This Week with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina continues its weekly interview series with head coach Mike Fox after the Diamond Heels were swept by Virginia to end the regular season and finish 33-22 (13-16 ACC). They open ACC Tournament play against Virginia Tech on Tuesday at 3 p.m.

The Diamond Heels celebrated Senior Day on Saturday, honoring Benton Moss and Trevor Kelley. Can you look back on their contributions on and off the field?
"Senior Day is always pretty special - two great Tar Heels. You cannot put into words what those two have meant to our program both on and off the field. They both followed somewhat different paths but have both done a lot for the program in terms of leadership and they both are very strong character kids who have been involved in a lot of things off the field as well as on and earning their degrees. Everything you could ask for in two seniors - they have given their heart and souls to the program. It is greatly appreciated by me and our coaches."

Tyler Ramirez hit his ninth home run this weekend and leads the team with 17 stolen bases. Can you discuss his overall performance this season?
"Tyler has that kind of skill and he showcased it all this weekend with his home run and the one that he pulled down the line. He was pretty much our only offensive weapon for the weekend and almost enough to get us one win. He has some ability to hit for power and run and he has played a good solid right field for us. He can be streaky and right now I think he is on a good streak and I hope that continues."

With the opportunity to play your way into the ACC Tournament’s pool play, what strategy are you planning to advance and bolster the chances at qualifying for the NCAA postseason?
"Well, there is not much strategy involved. It is win Tuesday. From a pitching standpoint it is all hands on deck. We have to do whatever we can to try to hold down a really good offensive Virginia Tech team. We want to keep the ball in the ballpark as they have some guys who can pop it out over there. We could use J.B. Bukauskas in relief. We cannot think about Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. We are not in that kind of position. Hopefully Zac Gallen will give us another quality start and we can go to Trevor [Kelley] and a couple of other guys and close out the game if we have a lead."

Can you discuss the performance that you had on the mound from Zac Gallen against UVa and the confidence that you have in him for this Tuesday game?
"Zac has pitched well for us all year long. He has had some great quality starts for us and unfortunately he did not get the win on Friday but boy he sure put the team on his back and gave us a chance to win. It was a terrific start for him and we've seen obviously a complete game from him so he is capable of going out there and keeping us in the game. He is going to need to do that for us tomorrow for sure."

Sometimes you learn the most about leadership in moments of crisis or failure - what did you learn about the leaders on this team after getting swept the last two weekends?
"Our team hurts when they lose. You can see that in them. They are competitors. They have some pride and it stings. They are not out there trying not to do well - they have invested too much time, effort and energy. It's baseball and as we all know it mirrors life and you are going to have ups and downs. Now you have a choice of how you want to respond. Do you want to give up and give in and let it deflate and defeat you or do you want to respond and I think this team has the leadership and the character and certainly the latter is what they wish to. They have had the last 72 hours to reflect on the weekend - but hopefully they won't take that long - over and done with. I expect us to go over there and play well and play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and give us a chance to win."

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