Around the Bases with Tommy Coyle

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up with UNC shortstop Tommy Coyle this week.

Can you discuss what freshman starting pitcher Benton Moss has showed you working his way into the weekend rotation?
"He has been a competitor since day one. He has a lot of talent and he goes out there and competes and gives it everything he has got. So he has been doing a good job and you can see that he is doing a better job every outing and it is good to have him in the weekend rotation."

Can you talk about your chemistry with Mike Zolk and how you have been working on solidifying the middle infield defense?
"It is just going at it in practice every day. Taking ground balls in practice and during batting practice. It is all about repetition so we try and get as many reps together as possible."

How is your relationship with Coach Jackson?
"I do a lot of extra hitting with him. He is always there to throw BP or flips. He is a great coach to have. He knows hitting and he is good to help you with your approach and everything that goes with hitting."

Can you discuss the work that you have put in to getting a good jump off of first base stealing?
"That is something that I have worked on with Coach Fox since he is a big baserunning guy. We work on that in the fall as we do most of that stuff in the fall. It is just kind of instinct - you have to trust yourself diving back into the base before you can think about stealing a base. I just try to get a decent lead and have confidence getting back on a good pick off move and let your speed take over."

Can you talk about what makes your game suited to being able to hit triples?
"I guess if I can sneak one past the first baseman and get enough on it to the wall in the corner I guess I just have the natural speed to turn it into a triple. Then I think that early in the season I had one off the wall and you kind of get lucky and the outfielder goes up for it and it happens to roll back towards the infield. Triples - there are a lot of luck involved in it."

Chaz Frank was duped by a fake tag on a stolen base where the ball squirted into center field against Liberty and was not able to advance. Can you discuss the play from a middle infielder's perspective and how deception can be part of the game?
"It is kind of hard to work on since you don't have game situations with live base runners in practice. It is something you think of in the moment. If it is a hit and run and someone pops the ball up you try to deke the runner into sliding and stuff like that. Most of the tricks you can do happen in the middle infield so you try to learn those when you see them."

Can you discuss what Michael Morin means to the Diamond Heels and the confidence that the team has in him?
"He is a great guy. He is a great competitor and he wants the ball no matter how many innings he has pitched in a given week. He is going to give it everything he has got every time out and he has done a great job shutting batters down. He does not give up a lot of hard hit balls and gets a lot of swings and misses. He has done great."

How has the team been able to keep a positive outlook in the absence of Colin Moran from the lineup?
"I think we have just tried to not think about it. It is tough because Colin is such a good player and such a key part of the team. You just have to put it on the back burner and move forward with your season and the games coming up and take it one game at a time. We know we will get him back eventually and we will just try and almost act as if he is not here and continue as smoothly as possible."

Can you discuss how difficult this time of year is for student-athletes on the baseball team with final exams looming on the horizon while you all are in the thick of your regular season schedule?
"It is definitely tough. This is the real hard part near the end of the semester. It is hard to balance when you have to wake up and go to class and next thing you know you are back here for a pre-game meal and then you get into batting practice and the game. You try to manage it as best you can and try to get your sleep. It is hard to do when you have so much work to do. It is tough but we get through it somehow."

You mentioned earlier this season that Cody Stubbs is your roommate ... and he has some of the longest hair on the team. How is he taking this weekend's BaseBald for the Cure head shaving that is coming his way in the series against Georgia Tech?
"I can already tell you he is not excited about it as he has a little mop going. I'm excited about watching him getting it all shaved off. I know some people don't want to get their hair cut but we are excited about the event and what it stands for. We have seen how BaseBald has grown and taken over college baseball and baseball in general around here and Chase Jones has done a great job promoting that and all the things he does around here. We are excited about it coming up this weekend."

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