Around the Bases with Ryan Graepel

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- As the end of the Diamond Heels regular season draws near, Inside Carolina caught up with senior shortstop Ryan Graepel ...

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Can you give your perspective on your career at North Carolina?
"It has been an incredible ride, that is for sure. I got a chance to play with a lot of great players and be around a lot of great people. I got to see the transition of the stadium - that was an incredible experience, being able to play in all three stadiums during that time. Basically during my career here I have got a view of how far this program has come and that has been really special to see."

Speaking of UNC's future, what have you seen from your double play partner, second baseman Tommy Coyle, and how you have observed his development as a freshman starter with the Diamond Heels?
"He is a great player. He works very hard. You have seen the improvements every day on the field. He is only going to get better. He came in here with a good knowledge of the game. I think that second base was a little bit new for him. Every day he goes to second base he gets a little bit better. Next year he is going to be a great second baseman."

How difficult has your role as a senior leader been on you personally with the roller coaster season that the Diamond Heels have experienced?
"It has been hard, but everybody on the team understands that you can only control what you can control and what is done is done. We have had some really tough losses this year and some really freak things have happened to us and we understand that another game is coming and we have a really big series this week and we will find out what we are made of. With the way that we have stuck together and continued to play hard I would be really surprised if it did not work out for us to make the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament for that matter."

Can you discuss Matt Harvey's performance this year?
"He should be an All-American he may be the best pitcher in the country right now. He has been out of this world for us. He has worked really hard in the offseason and he has put in the time and he has put in the effort and you are seeing the rewards of that effort that he has put in. It really helped him to be behind Alex [White] and Adam Warren last year as well and the year before that. He really learned from those guys and you can kind of see it in the way that he pitches now. He has really matured over his time here."

What do you attribute the Diamond Heels improvement in fielding defense as the season has progressed this year?
"Well, that is something that we really take pride in. Even the young guys that came in were very defensive oriented. Everybody has done a really good job, especially with how many guys are sort of playing out of position. Levi [Michael] moving to a new spot. Dillon Hazlett has been in a different spot no matter where he has been all year. Tommy [Coyle] playing second base has been a little bit different and moving the outfielders around a little bit too. It has really been a tribute to how hard we have worked in practice and the time that Coach Fox and the rest of the coaches have put in with us as well."

Speaking of the coaches, what has assistant coach Scott Jackson brought to the North Carolina baseball program over the past two years?
"Coach Jackson has been great for us. He is always willing to help at any time, to throw BP any time you need it, to going over video. I could not describe a better hitting coach to you than Coach Jackson. He is willing to work just as hard as you are. He will stay in here late hours with you to make you better."

What plans do you have for your last semester and your future in baseball?
"Who knows - we will see if professional baseball works out or if that doesn't I'll come back here and finish out my last semester [of coursework at UNC]. That is the great unknown right now; it will have a little bit to do with what happens in the June draft. We will see where things go from there and I'll figure it out after that. It is kind of one day at a time right now."

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