Q&A with Mike Fox

Inside Carolina's exclusive Monday morning interview with Tar Heel baseball coach Mike Fox, whose No. 2-ranked team (42-9, 20-6) won the weekend series at Virginia and now enters the final week of the regular season -- a home finale Tuesday versus Winthrop and then a big weekend series at No. 1 Miami.

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Tell me about the weekend, winning the first series in Charlottesville since 2004...

"We played well, we pitched well and got some big timely hits. We got the first, which was huge, and of course getting the second one on Saturday with a good start from Adam Warren and then Rob Wooten coming in and doing what he did was sensational. Dustin Ackley had a terrific weekend for us as well as a couple of other guys, Kyle Seager... we are certainly happy to go on the road and get two wins against a really good team."

Can you talk about the decision to let Rob Wooten finish the game on Saturday night?

"Well, he pitched one inning the night before. We tried to use Rob in the middle of the game where the other team maybe looks like they can break the game open or have a big inning...that was our thought processes bringing him in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. He looked so good against those two right handed hitters, we sent him back out there. He was sharp and he was aggressive and looked like he had good velocity. We just keep staying with him and he kept saying he felt good. As it was going on they were not even getting base hits off of him—we were a little concerned about his pitch count, but we let him finish the game. He wanted to so we let him."

You mentioned Dustin Ackley's big weekend. How important was his play?

"Dustin was terrific. Got on base for us a lot as our leadoff hitter, putting pressure on Virginia each and every game starting off. He came around to score to give us a lead and drove in some runs. He was true Dustin Ackley this weekend up there. They could not get him out, he got some huge two strike hits."

Are there any lessons to be learned after the tough loss in the rain shortened game on Sunday afternoon?

"There is no lesson to be learned. You deal with the circumstances as they are. We had no control up there—of the weather, or the game times and the decision they made on when to play the game or when not to in terms of not playing two on Saturday. It just happened to turn out that was it was just unfortunate. We probably should not have been in that situation that we were in anyway in the sixth inning. They got three hits and got it done in the sixth inning. We would have stayed up there as late as we needed to finish the game. We had nowhere to go, it is not in our hands, it was in the hands of the umpires and they were ready to leave."

Tell me about the importance of Seth Williams' defense in centerfield this season...

"Seth has been maybe a little bit overlooked about his defense and people are just now starting to notice, because sometimes he makes some sensational catches. He also makes routine catches in the gap that are not so routine. He has done a terrific job out there. We have thought he was our best outfielder the last two or three years and he has been invaluable out there this season for us."

This season the players on the team consistently discuss not looking past any opponents. How important have the team leaders been in making this happen?

"It is very important. We have been through this before—you come off of an emotional weekend and you have to come back around and play again. It is our last regular season game out there. Our guys don't have anything else to focus on right now, now that school is over. You have to trust your leaders, we will address this later today. We will deal with travel and this weekend when it gets here, let's make sure we are prepared. I trust this team because I think we are playing well and playing with a lot of confidence and think our guys are swinging the bat well this time of year. I would be very surprised if we did not come out ready to play. Especially after not getting it done yesterday and losing. We have been pretty good at responding after a loss and hopefully that will be the case tomorrow."

Recently the Academic Progress Reports came out and Adam Warren was named to the All-District Academic team. How do you feel about the team's academic performance?

"We are very proud of it. It is something we emphasize. I give credit to our academic support staff and Brent Blanton, who is our academic counselor over there. The work he has done and the emphasis that our players put on their academics and Adam is just a good example of that. He is a terrific, terrific student and is in the business school and taking some extremely difficult classes this semester—all upper level business classes—while trying to compete and pitch on the weekends. It is a tough chore and I tip my cap to Adam as he is certainly our leader and academic team captain and sets a great example."

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