Monday with Mike Fox

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- The Tar Heels improved to 10-1 on the year following a weekend sweep of Michigan. Inside Carolina caught up with head coach Mike Fox on Monday for an exclusive interview ...

Get your UNC baseball info and talk with fellow fans on Inside Carolina's Diamond Heels Message Board
What were your impressions of the weekend series against Michigan?

"It was a great series for us - certainly from a won/lost standpoint. We are ecstatic to have won three games and it is always a tough task against anybody. We certainly played our best game of the series I thought on Sunday and got a terrific start from Matt Harvey on Friday, which we really needed because their pitcher was very good as well – it was a great pitching matchup and a couple of big swings of the bat for us. Obviously we almost gave the thing away on Saturday but somehow prevailed. So all in all a good series. Michigan has a good team and I thought we were fortunate to win all three - but certainly we'll take it."

Greg Holt seemed to make a statement with his save opportunity at the end of the game on Saturday …

"Greg has a great mentality to be a relief pitcher. He is fearless and attacks hitters and obviously he has gotten better and better pitching wise and we have been focusing more on that with him. He has always had a good arm and in hindsight we probably should have spent more time with him on his pitching than we did in the past year than we had. He has a big league breaking ball and being able to drop that one in there on the 3-2 pitch on Saturday to the big left handed batter for Michigan. I think that took a lot of nerve to throw that pitch in that count and Greg has that right mentality and we may have found our closer - I don't know. We have three or four guys that have kind of been candidates for it but that was impressive by Greg on Saturday."

Nate Striz and Bryant Gaines both got their first action on Sunday after coming back from injuries. How significant is that for them and for your team?

"That was one of the most exciting parts of the day for me and I know for Coach Forbes and the rest of our team as well - to get those two young men out on the mound. We watched them battle back from injury and from surgery and all of the rehabilitation to get back to pitch. It was an emotional moment to see Bryant Gaines back out there after Tommy John surgery about a year ago and Nate Striz from elbow surgery in August. They have worked very hard and we were just ready for the right opportunity to get them out there. That is the best that we have seen Nate throw and Bryant has come a long way and it will be just a matter of time before we can get him back out there. So I thought both of them threw exceptionally well and were prepared and again it was a great moment for them and for us - and a good sign for us as well."

Can you discuss (freshman) Chaz Frank's performance at the plate this week?

"Chaz had a great week for us. I think he had like seven or eight hits in the games he played this week. We saw him swing the bat exceptionally well for us in the fall. He was one of our better freshmen and he got off a little slow in the first game - a little anxious. Just taking some reps and some at bats he got his confidence in the box. We saw him hit a lot of doubles in the fall down the right field line and he was able to do that yesterday which is a good sign. But he is a good player and he has a great chance to be a really good player here. He has a great demeanor and it is exciting to see him getting going because we are going to need some production from him."

How would you assess Ben Bunting's play in the field and at the plate so far this season?

"Ben is a good player - he is a good baseball player – and he came into his own last year. He works extremely hard and takes a great deal of pride in his performance in every phase of the game: offensively, defensively and baserunning. His conditioning, he is in terrific physical shape and really works hard at the game and he gets rewarded for it. He has been sensational so far - only striking out one time in 11 games and had some big swings of the bat for us yesterday - and played very, very well in left field and improved a lot defensively because he works hard at it and wants to be a great defensive player as well."

You've got your first ACC series this weekend against Duke and it'll be played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Is the team looking forward to returning to the site of the 2009 ACC Tournament?

"Well, we are certainly looking forward to starting ACC play. Our league is just going to be so, so good this year and it will start off with a very difficult challenge for us. It is going to be different playing Duke at the DBAP but obviously it is a beautiful ballpark and I know our players are going to be excited to go over there. We are familiar with it - at least the returning players are - and we are playing a night game and we are starting off with a night game which we don't play many of those this early so hopefully the weather will cooperate. Duke has another really, really good team and it will be a great challenge for us starting the ACC season."

Recruiting is obviously an important part of your job and it's a year-round process. Can you discuss what the itinerary is like for a typical official visit weekend for a baseball recruit?

"It depends on what time of year it is. We have a lot of them mostly in the fall. They will come in on Friday generally depending on where they are from and his transportation, whether it is airfare or if he is driving in. We try to have them in mid to late afternoon on Friday depending on if we are practicing that day or not. Depends on the flight - go out to dinner with the recruits, their families, their host players and the coaches generally on Friday night somewhere. Saturday if it is a home football game on Saturday morning we will take a campus tour and go to the academic center and meet with our strength coach and meet with our academic counselor and trainers and meet with their host. After the football game they sometimes will have a meal or a cookout over here at the stadium and they spend the night with their host on Saturday night and the coaching staff will spend some time with their parents on Saturday night but then have individual meetings on Saturday around the football game. Then on Sunday we will meet for breakfast then they are usually out because of the 48 hour limit. But that pretty much is our routine."

Can you discuss the relationship between Nike and the UNC baseball program?

"Of course we have an equipment and apparel contract with Nike and are one of the 28 sports that benefit greatly from that relationship. Nike has been exceptionally good for us with both equipment and apparel. They are always on the cutting edge of the technology - not only the equipment and catcher's gear, the bats and the new types of material for the apparel. We are in constant communication with them and they are with us. They want to represent us well and they want to be represented well by Carolina Baseball and I think that it has been a great relationship."

Inside Carolina Top Stories