This Week With Mike Fox

Inside Carolina caught up with the head coach of the Diamond Heels after his team was swept by the Blue Devils, pushing the losing streak to six games. The Tar Heels host UNCW on Tuesday before heading to Boston College for another ACC series this weekend.

Can you reflect back on the challenging week behind the Tar Heels?
"It was a very challenging week and one that we are unaccustomed too. We didn't play well in any phase of the game all week in our statistics for the four games. It showed that. We get back to the drawing board today and get ready for a week ahead of us."

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One of the bright spots on Sunday was the relief appearance of Henry Sisson, who entered in the first inning and logged nearly four innings of work without an earned run.
"It was very important for us and it did give us the chance to hang in there. We talk a lot with players all the time about being ready and you never know how the game is going to go. Henry has been patient and waited his turn and got an opportunity to get out there in the first inning - which I'm certain he didn't expect to - but he was ready and gave us three and two thirds and kept us right there. That was important."

The Heels committed 8 errors in the weekend series. How did you categorize these errors and what does your team need to accomplish to reach its fielding goals?
"Obviously I hope that it is all fixable. It is confidence right now. Some of it is mental. We had Tommy Zengel over there at first base and he has not been there much. We had some moving parts a little bit and that always concerns me whenever we move guys around. It is something that we have to do right now. It has been somewhat all over the field a little bit. A bunt ball in the dirt and you pick it up and it doesn't make it to first base but just bounces. Some of them are just errors but we are trying to make plays so as long as we are not tentative with it and we are trying to make plays we cannot fault the kids, but we have to get better defensively to give ourselves a chance."

Sophomores Skye Bolt and Landon Lassiter are both recovering from nagging ankle injuries and off to a slow start at the plate this season. Are you more concerned with their physical or mental state right now?
"I am not concerned about their mental state more than their physical state. But, the physical state - you have to play hurt. If the trainers tell you that you can go you do. You don't feel good every day, that is just part of the game. It is only going to get more difficult as they go on and play games. The little nagging things you just have to deal with and not let them turn into mental things. Right now it is more mental and confidence and not feeling really good and comfortable [at the plate]. I hope that the physical part of that does not play into that and I don't think that is the case. Physically I think they both are fine and certainly well enough to play."

Freshman Colby Barnette started at third base this weekend after Landon Lassiter started at DH. How would you assess his performance in the field and at the plate?
"He is another one of those ones that have been patient and works every day. He has been given an opportunity and we felt like we needed to make a change and give Colby a chance. We are going to continue to give him an opportunity. He wasn't scared and I thought he made a nice play, of course got a base hit up the middle and got a bunt down for us. I think that will give him some confidence and he will continue to improve and get better."

Can you update the progress by junior Chris McCue after his blood clot in his shoulder? How is he handling it and what is his timetable for recovery?
"He is fine. Chris is fine. He is in really good spirits. Unfortunately we can't travel with him as he is not on the travel roster. He ducked in the dugout [in Durham] just quickly with his smiling face and has been very supportive of his teammates. He has always been a good leader for us. He is just going through his medication for the blood clot but the main surgery is not scheduled for a little bit later on in April."

In McCue's absence who would you consider to be the key relief pitcher coming out of the pen?
"Right now it has been Reilly Hovis for us. We have not put ourselves in a save situation very much since Chris has gone out. We have not had to answer that question yet. I would like to be able to answer that question and get in a situation where we have to get a save and have a lead late. But, all our relievers are going to have to step up and we put some guys in over this weekend who did well and then we put some guys in who did not do well and they just have to learn from their outings and everyone has to move up the ladder. We are going to have to put some young guys out there and they will have to perform with a trial by fire and they will have to help us as best they can."

Last week you discussed that you would have a better grasp on where your team was after this week - what did you learn about your team in this challenging week?
"I think we played hard and competed. We played hard. I think that we all were. I think our players were in good spirits when we went over there on Saturday. We talk about that. Your response and you hear about it all the time that life is about 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond. We don't have any options here. We are going to keep playing hard and competing and working. We know no other way. So I thought our players made the most of a pretty miserable day. We go over there and the wind is blowing out and we have lost the first two games. We started off going against a kid (Michael) Matuella, who has not given up a hit or a walk in 10 innings and is throwing 96-97 mph out there. We really competed in the batter's box there after a very uncharacteristic start from Zac Gallen - all of a sudden they have made contact with one pitch and with one ball we are down 2-0. I was so proud of our team for just battling through and getting out of that inning and getting back and taking the lead 3-2. Then we turn right around to start an inning with an error and a walk and let them back into the game. Those are the things that we have to get better at but you have to give Duke credit for responding every time we got a lead or made a mistake."

This season has been filled with instances of the weather moving game times and dates. How big of a challenge has the day-to-day needs of the team been affected by the winter and rain?
"Everybody has had to deal with the challenges of the weather. We adjust and adapt as best we can. Our grounds crew has been sensational. Those guys just get it and have been so accommodating with whatever we have needed to do. We feel like we have had put that tarp on the field a hundred times already. Our trainers and our strength coaches have had to adapt on the fly. It is what it is. It is just par for the course. It is going to 80 degrees here and we are heading to Boston where it will be in the 40s. So, you know if that gets us down we are not a very strong team mentally since that is something we have no control over."

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