Around the Bases with Ben Bunting

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Ben Bunting leads the Diamond Heels in runs scored and is third on the team in stolen bases. Inside Carolina caught up with the senior center fielder and leadoff hitter this weekend.

As one of the senior leaders, what did you tell the team after the first ACC series loss to Wake Forest?
"We try not to panic and freak out. It is a long season and there are a lot of ups and down -- we took it as a learning experience and we just put our heads down and worked hard and went as far as we could from there."

What is your take on Colin Moran, who has greatly exceeded expectations as a freshman at third base and at the plate?
"He is unbelievable. He has done everything that you could ask for, he is really clutch when you need him. He gets the big hit and stays calm and keeps his composure and makes the big plays when we need it."

Since you had the opportunity to play with his brother Brian at North Carolina can you compare their personalities?
"He is really quiet and you would not know he is there. He does not like to say a lot but he just goes about his business and gets his work done."

How's your fellow senior Patrick Johnson faring this season ?
"He is doing a great job. He had a couple rocky first innings but he is a senior and he knows what he is doing and kept his composure and has worked through it, battled and has some great starts for us."

The team seems very resilient this year bouncing back from giving up early leads and protecting leads late - can you discuss the mental aspect of this as far as the team is concerned?
"We are just doing a good job right now in that we are trying not to panic. We are just trying to take good swings and make the plays and we are trying not to get real down on ourselves or back ourselves in a corner. We are just trying to play the game and whatever happens - happens. We are just on the good side of it right now."

The new bats were a big story at the beginning of the season and you started off slowly at the plate. What is your perspective on the bats?
"At first everyone was talking about how they were going to make a big difference. We have hit a lot of home runs this year. Colin Moran has hit them and [Jesse] Wierzbicki has hit a lot. I don't think that they are making that big of a difference and if you put a good swing on a ball it is still going to jump off just as well."

How about your fellow outfielders, Seth Baldwin and Jeff Bouton, who are manning the right field spot?
"They are doing real well. They are switching out a lot between lefties and righties. They have to stay on their toes and be ready to get into the game and they have done a good job of staying ready and being prepared. Coach Jackson - we look at him between pitches and he moves us in and over and wherever we need to go. On days like today with a lot of wind we really have to talk a lot and communicate about who is going to get it."

The Diamond Heels have been very successful so far this season with keeping a high on base percentage - can you discuss your outlook every time you get to the plate?
"It has been really good. It has been a big key of ours - getting our pitch and not being cheated at the plate. I feel like we are doing a really good job of waiting and not hitting what the pitcher wants but waiting and getting our pitch."

Is there a competition on the team in stealing bases between you, Levi Michael and Tommy Coyle this season?
"Not really, it is not really talked about that much. If we get a good jump or good opportunity we try to take it."

What is the secret to being a successful base stealer in your opinion?
"You have to be confident in yourself. You cannot have any doubt or fear in the back of your mind. A lot of the pitchers in the ACC have really quick feet so we look for a guy with a really high leg kick or he gives away a twitch or with his front knee that is a tell on the mound."

Can you discuss your perspective on the BaseBald for the Cure fundraiser?
"It is a great event that Chase Jones started to support the pediatric cancer center [at UNC]. It is a great event that he is really excited about and passionate about going through and we are excited to raise money and help him."

As a senior looking back at your career what is the top moment that stands out in your memories of your time playing for North Carolina?
"The top moment was the first time that we got to play in Omaha. It has been a dream ever since I have been a little kid playing finally getting on the field in front of all of all of those fans and in the big stakes."

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