Monday with Mike Fox

The Tar Heels (42-16) came up short of the ACC championship game over the weekend and now look ahead to hosting an NCAA Regional next weekend. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

Last Week: ACCT
Wed. 5/20 - UNC 8, Duke 2
Fri. 5/22 - UVa 11, UNC 1
Sat. 5/23 - Clem 4, UNC 3 (11 inn.)

The Tar Heels received an 8.1 inning career-long start by senior right-hander Adam Warren on Wednesday. Matt Harvey battled through six innings on Saturday, giving up two earned runs (three total) on nine base hits and one walk to five strikeouts.

Dustin Ackley provided the power in Durham, hitting three home runs to bring his season total to 20. He only needs three hits to eclipse Chad Flack as the all-time career hits leader for the Tar Heels - accomplished in only three years in Chapel Hill. Ackley is being projected as going as high as the second pick overall in the upcoming MLB Draft.

This Week
NCAA Regional - Chapel Hill, N.C.
May 29-June 1
UNC game schedule to be announced

NCAA Regional tickets are currently in pre-sale for UNC supporters and if any tickets remain they will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

First of all, congratulations on eight consecutive 40 win seasons and the fourth straight hosted NCAA Regional...
"Thank you, it is a credit to some of our players that we have had in the program and especially this year's team. I am very happy that they are able to play at home - I think they deserve to do that."

Can you give your impression of having the ACC Tournament in Durham and your opinion on the changes in format with the round robin play this year?
"Personally I like the format - I know it is not a true tournament with the double elimination format. I like that you are able to play three games and a day off is good, if it hits you on the right time. I thought that Durham did a very nice job because they got late notice to host. Fortunately the weather was very good and I thought the crowds at our games were outstanding. All in all I thought the tournament was a success."

Looking back on Adam Warren's career-long star on Wednesday …
"Adam was really outstanding. He has had an incredible year for us. I think it was so vital for our team not only because he returned but just the year he has had - it did not surprise any of us. Sometimes you don't know about seniors when they come back. Adam is not your typical senior baseball player who decided not to sign. He came back for other reasons, which I think is important. He is so driven and dedicated and prepares himself so well that success is going to find him. His performance against Duke is just what we needed and it was one of his better starts of the year."

What is the team schedule going to be like this week heading into the Regionals?
"We will practice today after the selection show, we are going to practice tomorrow morning and we will kind of do a simulated scrimmage/live batting practice to get some of our pitchers a little work. We have got recruiting tomorrow evening, so we will go a little early with practice. We will practice Wednesday afternoon and we will have a team function on Wednesday evening. I believe the [NCAA mandated team practices] begin on Thursday. If memory serves correct ours will take place on Thursday at 10 a.m.

How is hosting a regional at the new Bosh going to be different than in past years?
"I think most importantly it is going to make it easier on our operations and our ticket people because of the fact that we have assigned seating and have a nice ticket booth out front and we don't have to set up temporary venues like we have had to do in the past. I'm hoping that will be beneficial for us hosting the regionals - which I certainly think it will be. I think our fans will benefit certainly from our new facility. That is one reason why we wanted to build it. Certainly it helps in recruiting, but I am not certain how many recruits we will have attending during the regionals. Everybody is going to have a good seat and a good view and we are going to try to put on the best possible regional that we can and treat the visiting teams with class and do things the right way, which I am sure we have done in the past and I'm sure we will do once again."

Is there a silver lining in the extra-inning loss to Clemson in that the bullpen did not have to be extended or taxed after using Patrick Johnson in extra innings?
"I don't know - we were certainly looking forward to playing again and getting Colin Bates back out there again. You have four days really before the regionals, so I think some of those guys we probably would have liked to have used a little bit, but we got most everybody into the games so I don't think there will be any rust on Friday."

Can you comment on your team's play on defense during the ACC Tournament?
"Our defense I think has been pretty good all year long. We had a stretch there - one week - where we did not play well defensively. I think we made three or four errors during the tournament... I think Garrett [Gore's] was a hit, I think [Kyle] Seager had two errors and Patrick [Johnson] had the other one if I am not mistaken. But you know good defense to give our team a chance to win, that is important to us and we emphasize it all year. Our outfield has been outstanding all year. We just have to make plays on the infield and turn the double play in the regional when we have the opportunity - that helps you. We have got to do that this weekend."

Talking about the outfielders, it seemed like Mike Cavasinni was very comfortable in the spacious center field in Durham this weekend...
"As the season goes on, Cavi has improved every game - not only defensively but in the box as well. When you have not played in two years, it takes you a while. Some people may say, 'After a few weeks you should be fine,' but it is even more of a process than that - especially with his eye injury - to feel comfortable seeing the ball and running at angles. You have to indicate with your right and left fielder and we have two new guys out there. Defensively essentially we have three new outfielders out there. I could not have asked any more of all those guys, making the routine plays, not trying to be spectacular and throwing to the right base and always keeping the double play in order. I think Cavi has played a terrific center field for us."

With four regional hosts being selected from the ACC, what do you believe that states about the competition level and competitive balance in the league?
" I mean, honestly, we know how good our league is top to bottom. I think that is why it is critical that you finish at the top of the league during the regular season - either in is your division or overall - and be competitive outside the league to put yourself in position just to warrant a host or just at least a consideration to host. So, four out of our league - and we could have easily had another one in there - certainly speaks to the caliber of teams and programs that we have in the ACC."

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