Around the Bases with Tommy Coyle

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up with junior starting shortstop Tommy Coyle this week. The Chalfont, Pa. native is batting .301 on the season and leads the team in runs (27) and is tied for the team lead in stolen bases (6).

Can you talk about your patient approach at the plate?
"I feel like I am a better hitter when I see a couple pitches. I am not scared to strike out and pretty confident with two strikes. My game plan is to see a couple pitches and wait to see if I can get a pitch to drive or get some damage with. If not I feel pretty comfortable with two strikes."

Do you feel any more pressure to perform when you are at the plate now to drive in runs or get on base to score runs with Colin Moran's bat out of the lineup or does it make you utilize your patience even more?
"I think it is a little bit of both. I know there is pressure since it is hard to replace a hitter like Colin but you cannot let that get to you and you cannot put added pressure on yourself. Hitting is hard enough as it is. We do realize that Colin is our best hitter and we are without him for a little while and we are tying to step it up and have better at bats and that is all you really can do."

How have you and Mike Zolk been working together to solidify the up-the-middle defense at short and second?
"We get a lot of reps in practice and turn a lot of double plays. It is just repetition and getting comfortable with each other. We had a long fall and we are getting into the season and we will get better as we go on."

How do you balance keeping your arm strong at short in game action while getting enough practice repetitions without wearing your arm down. How different is that from your time at second base previously?
"It is definitely different. I have figured that out lately. Knowing when to let a few go and knowing when to rest it because it is a lot longer of a throw and I am not as necessarily as used to it. But you kind of have to know your body and take care of yourself in practice but still get something out of practice."

Your younger brother Sean Coyle (a 2010 signee with the Diamond Heels) is in Spring Training with the Red Sox. Do you have any updates on how he has been performing this spring and where he might end up to start his season?
"Not sure where he is going but I know he is doing pretty well. I saw him on TV in a few big league games so I know he got a few big league at bats. He is still very young and he is doing a good job and still waiting to hear where he will be at. I think he might be in (High A) Salem, Virginia to start off."

Can you discuss Cody Stubbs' power starting to come back as the weather warms up?
"He is a big guy and took some good swings. [The game versus Coastal Carolina] was a good example. He got a pitch he was looking for and put a good swing on it so the ball is going to go. It is getting a little easier seeing the ball fly with the weather warming up and hopefully we will see some more home runs out of him and go from there."

What have you seen from freshman right handed pitcher Mason McCullough?
"The first thing that stands out is obviously the fastball. You can't teach that. He was sitting 96 or 97 today at one point. I feel like he just keeps getting better every time he gets out there and you can tell he is getting more comfortable and he is starting to get a feel for his secondary pitches. He will be a pretty special player here for us down the road this season and in the future."

How would you describe this year's team to a casual fan who may have been focused on the NCAA run that the basketball team was on to get them up to date with the Diamond Heels?
"To get them to come out to the game? [Our win against Coastal] was a good example. We are going to play to the very last out and play hard and leave it all on the field. We are not going to try to make them all as close as they have been but we it is going to be exciting no matter what the score is."

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