Around the Bases with Hobbs Johnson

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Inside Carolina caught up with junior southpaw Hobbs Johnson after his 11th start of the season in a five-inning victory over James Madison on Tuesday. Johnson is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in 54 innings for the No. 1-ranked Diamond Heels.

What was your exam schedule like this past week?
"I had two last week and two this week and finished with Anatomy on Monday. So I am glad to be done with that. I think everybody is excited to be done and any fatigue will go away shortly."

So how does it feel now that you are done with exams?
"It is awesome. This is all of our favorite time of the year where we have one focus now. "

Can you discuss your comfort level with Matt Roberts behind the plate?
"It is awesome. Matt is an awesome catcher and my comfort level with him is huge and I know that he is going to make some pitches look like strikes much like Jake [Jacob Stallings] used to that might have been give or take it."

How does your arm feel now?
"My arm feels great. The first half of the year perhaps a little bit not as good. But since Virginia Tech I have been 100 percent."

What have you been working on this year with your different pitches?
"We always work on fastball command. I have always thrown a ton of fastballs and that is what I pitch off of. Sliders, just my main focus has been just getting it out front and letting it work at the plate instead of starting it early. Because if I start it early it will be up and [with the] curveball it is kind of the same thing. I have just worked on getting it out front and with the change up I have been trying to throw it like a fastball and trying to keep it from running off the plate except for when I want it to."

How much contact have you had with Major League scouts as a draft eligible junior?
"To be honest with you we don't talk about it at all. The way I look at it is that it will be what it will be. If I am good enough then they will draft me where they want to anyways. With me they have not started calling yet. I think that will happen later on this month. I think it will be fun going through it."

Can you discuss your perspective on the improvement of senior Cody Stubbs at the plate this seaso,n batting .375 as compared to last year at .258?
"He is swinging it unbelievably. With that him just being here another year and he has gotten that much better. Last year he probably did not swing it as well as he wanted to. But I mean it was the first time that he was playing against the teams that he was playing against too. I feel like he is playing with a ton of confidence and that he will continue to hit."

What was your reaction when you found out Coach Fox had put you onto the lineup as the designated hitter earlier in the season?
"To be honest with you I did not know about it. I was sitting in the bullpen out there and Coach Forbes told me to go look at the lineup and told me I was hitting. Coach Fox kind of played a little joke on it. He wanted to save from burning a DH. It took me back to high school. I had not put a helmet on or grabbed a bat in probably three years. It was awesome."

When the Diamond Heels pitching staff earns a shutout of an opponent the pitchers get the opportunity to take batting practice. What's your perspective on the practice and who would make the best candidate for DH?
"For us it is an exciting part. We don't think about it when we are out there. But then after we shut out a team we always talk about having tokens to be able to take batting practice. Probably if I had to guess the best DH would be Kent [Emanuel] or Tate [Parrish]. One of those two."

... Who hits the most home runs among the pitchers when you get the opportunity?
"Trevor Kelley has been hitting them lately. He has been putting some -- well a lot out, actually."

How have you worked on improving your pick off move and management of the opposing team's running game this year?
"With us it is just that we focus on the hitter all the time. All our preparation has taught us to be quick to the plate and short and just let our catchers work. So for me at the beginning of the year I was a little bit long and a little bit slow on my lift so I have been working on quickening it up and getting my hands to separate a little bit earlier."

What is your favorite off-site venue to visit as a player in your career?
"Without a doubt the top two would be [NC] State and Florida State. Just because State is close to home for me and I have a bunch of friends come out. I just love the atmosphere when the people are ragging you and stuff too. I enjoy it and I feel like it makes me play better."

Can you discuss your perspective on Michael Russell's play at shortstop this season?
"He has unbelievable range and has a great arm. I mean, he makes a bunch of plays that I feel that most people would not get to. Even on plays that he can't get it in play he keeps a ton of balls in the infield to keep people from scoring."

What personal goals do you have for the rest of this season?
"Just give us a chance to win every time I go out and just help us get back to Omaha and hopefully win."

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