This Week With Mike Fox

The Diamond Heels had another perfect week, improving their record to 34-2 (15-2 ACC) with a sweep at Virginia Tech. The team returns home for a five-game slate at Boshamer Stadium, including a series against Duke. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox for the weekly interview ...

Can you give your perspective on the last week?
"Well, I guess that the story is that four of the five games were on the road. So that was a good sign for us that we can go on the road and get some wins. The week started with a big win at Elon then we were able to do just enough to get a win against a good Liberty team on Wednesday. Then the weekend was interesting up in Blacksburg. We won three games in sort of three different ways. We did some good things up there offensively and of course on the mound, not only late on Saturday but on Sunday. It was another good week for us."

Colin Moran has been swinging a hot bat, earning ACC Player of the Week honors. He is now leading the team batting (.401), on-base (.519), slugging (.648), and home runs (9). Can you discuss his play this season?
"Colin is just a terrific talent. You know that over the course of a season he is going to perform at a high level. The past couple of weeks he has been seeing the ball really well. He has always been patient. He has only struck out eight times all year. That certainly speaks to his discipline and his ability to put the ball in play. He was terrific over the weekend. The Saturday game he drove in four and scored five runs, or visa versa, and of course one of those runs he drove in was his own [on his home run]. But he accounted for 8 of 9 of our runs in one game. So a big presence for us in the middle of the order and it does not surprise us that he is swinging the bat as well as he is. We knew it was just a matter of time."

Hobbs Johnson went out on Sunday and ostensibly pitched his best performance of the season - six innings of shutout baseball...
"It certainly was a different game on Sunday, Hobbs had a lot to do with that and so did their guy. The ballpark was playing different on Sunday. But, Hobbs kind of pitched around the six walks he had and pitched in and out of trouble. He was effectively wild a little bit and had some two and three ball counts and made some pitches when he needed to. The story was he just didn't give up many hits, only two hits. We played good defense behind him and he made some big pitches, especially to the middle of their order a couple of times when they had a runner in scoring position and left some guys stranded for them. Glad to see him pitch into the 6th inning and give us a chance to win."

Chaz Frank returned from his hamstring injury this weekend and hit his first career home run, but then later in the weekend Skye Bolt was lost to the team indefinitely after fouling a pitch directly off his foot. Your thoughts on the ups and downs in the outfield this weekend?
"Chaz was obviously very excited to get back in the lineup. It showed with an extra bounce in his step. It is funny because Coach Jackson and I were talking about maybe this was what Chaz needed, sometimes a little bit of a break or a different perspective – we need Chaz Frank playing at a high level to be a good club and he gave us a spark on Friday night and really all weekend. His home run was, you know, ‘Finally.' So he will quit talking about hitting a home run. That is the best thing about his home run is that maybe he will stop talking about it now. But it was exciting for him and the look on his face coming around third was pretty special so I am happy for him. Injuries are part of it, part of athletics and part of this game. It is something that just happened. It was kind of a freak thing where Skye just fouled a ball directly off the top of his foot. It is extremely unfortunate. Skye will be back for us at some point. We will let the doctors and the trainers determine all of that. I guess if there is a silver lining we will have a little break during exams, that is always good for everybody to heal. But, certainly in this instance it will give Skye even a few more days because we certainly will not rush him back until he is fully healthy."

It's another busy week at Boshamer Stadium this week, hosting Coastal Carolina and Elon before a big weekend series with Duke. Can you discuss the coming opponents and the week ahead?
"Another big one for us with five really tough games. Coastal is playing very well they have won I think 8 or 9 in a row and will be a tremendous challenge for us on Tuesday. Our guys are kind of grinding it out academically with two weeks of classes left. They have a lot on them, not just baseball-wise but the academic part too. It is just that we have to be ready. The good news is that we did not use Chris Munnelly over the weekend so he is available to start for us on Tuesday night. Elon – here comes another good in-state opponent. Obviously we just played them last week so we will have our hands full with them. Then we are excited for the weekend just for a number of reasons. Military Appreciation Day on Saturday and then Versus Cancer event on Sunday and playing Duke and they have been playing well so maybe we will get some good crowds and the weather looks like it will be nice for us. It will be another good week."

What does Coach Jackson brings to the Diamond Heels in his role as recruiting coordinator and coaching the hitters and fielders for the team in his fifth year coaching in the program?
"You don't have enough room or enough space in this article for me to talk about Coach Jackson. He is just a relentless worker. I have never been around -- and not to speak around Bryant Gaines as he is pretty new to this -- but I have never been around a pair of harder workers than Scott Jackson and Scott Forbes. I am talking about being there at 7 a.m. and they were probably in there early this morning watching video on Coastal. Coach Jackson has such pride in what he does and like I said he does not leave any stone unturned. He is responsible for the scouting report on the opposing pitcher so he watches a lot of video and gives our hitters great reports on what to expect. He works with our hitters at any time. Any time a kid wants to work or watch video he is available. He is very special and I am very lucky to have him on the staff."

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It seems that the new Major League Baseball slotting and signing bonus pool program has taken some of the variables out of planning for the impact of the draft on college rosters. Can you discuss your comfort level with the new guidelines?
"Well, I am never comfortable with the draft. [Laughs] Or who is coming and going. Not completely, but maybe a little more now than in the past where there wasn't any of this structure in place. You never knew what to expect and it basically boiled down to what club selected our signees. I think I have a little better handle on it but it is still a process and it is still a matter of communication and trying to figure out who is telling which signee what and what they are telling them back. We feel like we have done our homework with a lot of these young men and we know what to expect in terms of their draft status and what they would sign for and bypass UNC so it is a tremendous challenge but I think we have a little better handle on it. I thought we had a good handle on it in the past - we really have only had one recruiting class in 2008 that really was difficult. Other than that we really have not been surprised."

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