One-on-one with USC pitcher Jay Brown
Question: First Jay, will you talk about how fall practice has been going and how the team is looking overall?
Brown: "Yeah, fall practice has been going good. We were able to get out on the field for six weeks and really got some good work in. And overall, I feel good about our team this year. We've got some older guys with experience, and we've also got some freshmen that are going to be able to step right in and contribute."
Question: The team just concluded the Garnet & Black World Series, and you were the manager for the Garnet team and you pitched one of the games. Can you talk a little bit about your experience managing your teammates as well as just how you felt about your start?
Brown: "Yeah, first of all, managing my teammates, it was an interesting experience because you don't really think about it when you're a player, the ins and outs of managing the game. Who to pitch, who to pinch hit for, this and that, so it actually gave me an interesting perspective, a glimpse into Coach (Ray) Tanner's shoes for once. I was able to throw on Sunday for the team, and for the most part I felt good about my outing and we were able to win those two games on Sunday and clinch the series."
Question: I was going to ask you about your start. In particular, I saw you had four scoreless innings and four strikeouts, did everything feel good health wise and were you happy with that start overall?
Brown: "Yeah, the arm's been feeling great lately, and overall I was definitely happy with that start. The Black Squad, they had quite a lineup, and to keep them at bay for four innings, that was something that was pleasing. And you know, the rest of our pitchers on Sunday in both games were really able to keep the Black team at bay, so it really helped us clinch the series."
Question: I know you mentioned the seniors on the team. Besides yourself, who would you say are some of the senior leaders?
Brown: "Well, we've got Kyle Enders, he's a fifth year senior behind the plate, and he really has that experience (of) being a catcher, and you really want the person in that position to provide some leadership. We also have another fifth year senior who's also a catcher, Brady Thomas. Pitchers, we've got Blake Cooper, senior, and Sam Dyson and Parker Bangs are both redshirt juniors. So they've all been around the program for four or five years, with the pitchers and catchers. And then I guess in the infield and outfield you've got Whit Merrifield, who's been around a couple years, and then Nick Ebert and Bobby Haney to really round out a core set of leaders that hopefully this team can build around."
Question: After fall practice, what would you say is the biggest strength of the team heading into next year?
Brown: "I'd say, and I'm not really going to go for pitching or hitting, I'd say that depth wise that is just a strength that we've got. We've got 15, 20 guys that can play at this level, that are battling it out for positions. Depth wise is definitely a strength that we have this year."
Question: Last year, you guys came within an out of reaching the Super Regionals, what would you say is your team goals in general and as far as postseason play?
Brown: "Last season it was a disappointing end to the year. We really started playing good there at the end, and we made a run in the postseason and unfortunately came up short. This year, overall our general goal is to go to Omaha. We want to be (one of) the last eight teams in the country playing to win the national championship. In order to get there we have to have a good season, do well in the SEC and SEC Tournament, and then hopefully host a Regional, and try to propel ourselves to Omaha."
Question: Has it really sunk in yet that this is your last year as a Gamecock, and what do you want to accomplish personally?
Brown: "It's getting there, you know this is my last go round. I've had a few years to think about it with all the injuries. But yeah, it's starting to sink in, and this year I just want to be able to give the younger guys somebody to look up to, show them some good work ethic, and help lead this team to Omaha, that's really my goal for this year."
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