Mark Marquess on Selection Monday

Monday gave the Cardinal a big lift when they found out their at-large NCAA Tournament bid and #3 seed in the Austin Regional. Immediately afterward, 30-year head coach Mark Marquess talked with The Bootleg and local reporters about why he thought Stanford was selected, how the system can work against Western teams, the importance of pitching this weekend, the UC Davis losses, NC State, and more.

Thoughts as the Selection Show came toward an end

"You don't know.  You just don't know.  The unfortunate thing is that we are disappointed for our league.  We have four teams, and obviously we're the fourth.  There are reasons for that.  I think one of the comments on the show by Kyle Peterson, who knows us, is the parity.  The disappointing thing from my perspective as a Pac-10 guy and a West Coast guy is that this is the strongest our conference has been in 20 years.  You could have had five teams with a better record like we did last year if we had weaker teams.  We just don't have weaker teams.  We were the last regional to be selected, so obviously we were anxious.  But that is the situation when you are an at-large.  Again, we are happy that we made it, but at the same time I'm really proud of this team.  We've faced a lot of adversity - 3-9 at one point in the league; a game below .500 - and we really bounced back and played our best baseball the last 15 or 20 games.  We are very pleased, but they were very anxious moments.  It's tough.  I think we got some teams [out West].  In the Big West, I think Long Beach dropped off because they got swept by Fullerton, which isn't a big shock because they're pretty good.  But it was good that USF and San Diego made it from the West.  It is difficult because there is so much parity."

On the RPI and selection system disadvantaging West teams each year

"I don't think there is a question about that.  It doesn't favor the West Coast teams.  Now if you look at the strength of schedules that I have seen, the first seven teams by strength of schedule are all West Coast teams.  Now, that's not RPI.  That's strength of schedule.  We have always played Fullerton and TexasUCLA played at North Carolina State, who we open up with.  They swept North Carolina State there, beat Mississippi two out of three, played Miami - so they have really played some intersectional games.  Arizona State played Auburn and swept them.  They went to Baylor and beat Baylor two out of three.  I think we are making an effort to play those national teams, but it's difficult.  The other thing we know out West is that whoever you might play in non-league, whether that is San Jose State, Santa Clara or Davis - whoever it is - they are good teams.  I think we know that out West, but I don't think the RPI reflects the strength of the teams out West.  You can then go into why, but I'm not quite sure.  Anybody who tells you they understand the RPI is lying to you because I haven't talked to anybody that understands it.  I do know that you are much better off playing better teams - and this has served us here - and even getting beaten by better teams.  I think the ironic thing about this year's team is that it is just the reverse of last year's team.  I didn't think we were playing well at the end of last year, and we lost some series early - lost two out of three to Fullerton and got swept by Texas.  We just reversed that this year.  We swept Fullerton and beat Texas two out of three and played much better at the last 15 or 20 games of the season."

On his immediate knowledge of opening NCAA Regional opponent NC State

"Not a thing.  In some ways, having done this a number of times, it doesn't really make any difference.  It really has to do with how you are playing now and your match-ups.  More importantly, is Greg Reynolds going to pitch a great game?  Or are we going to face a guy who is 'on'?  As you guys know, it gets to pitching and how you pitch.  Last year we opened up with TCU and faced one of the best pitchers in the country.  I don't know about North Carolina State - they may have that guy.  That's the tournament.  It's just who gets hot."

On Stanford's pitchers for this weekend past Reynolds

"I don't know.  I really don't know.  It's unpredictable.  You don't know what you're going to get.  Are you going to get the Nolan Gallagher who pitched at UCLA and pitched a complete game?  You don't know.  That's the thing.  But everybody is that way to a certain extent.  Everybody has one guy, usually their Friday starter.  You have to go play Texas and beat Texas, and they have a great team.  When we faced them, they were a young team and had a lot of young arms.  Those young arms aren't young anymore.  They'll be tough, and North Carolina State will be tough.  Everybody is tough at this time.  Even if your record isn't good overall, you are playing well now.  You either won a tournament or you finished strong.  I think one of the things they have put emphasis on the last few years is how you play at the end.  That's a big thing to the committee, which means that anybody that is in it probably played well at the end of the season.  Kansas won the Big XII Tournament.  We know Kansas - they beat us two out of three here.  What was wrong with you there?  Well, they were pretty good, and they're playing very well right now so they're dangerous.  I think they're playing up at Oregon State.  That is what you worry about, even if you are a strong Oregon State team and have great pitching.  Do you face that hot team?  That is what makes the regional so exciting.  You never know."

On playing his veterans versus freshman in the post-season

"It can be anybody.  It can be a freshman.  It can be a guy who hasn't done it.  It's just a guy who gets hot, whether it's a pitcher or whether it's a hitter.  In the [Major League Baseball] playoffs or World Series, the MVP may be a guy who has been a so-called average player, or a pitcher comes in and pitches well.  You just don't know.  Again, that makes it exciting, but it makes it a little bit worrisome for the coaches.  You are not quite sure where you are going to be."

On the turnaround by Chris Lewis during the season

"Chris has done a great job.  Right now he is probably our hottest hitter.  He's very dangerous.  He can hit the ball the other way.  He has a little power.  He has been really steady defensively.  He and [Chris] Minaker and [John] Hester have been our team leaders from Day One since we came back in the fall, as far as position players are concerned.  I think one of our keys to success these last 15 games or so has really been Chris Lewis.  He has been playing well defensively, and he has been really clutch.  He might have more RBI than anybody else in the league.  He has come up with some clutch, clutch hits for us in the last part of the season."

On Lewis not 'getting down' during his slump start to the season

"He didn't.  One of the things about being a senior and playing in a leadership role is that you really cannot afford to do that.  If you get down, then it affects everybody else - especially when we have a lot of young freshman players.  He didn't get down, and he kept working at it.  He was inconsistent there defensively for the first half of the season.  We played him at third a little bit, and we solidified ourselves defensively when he got back to second base and played really steady there.  Offensively, as we mentioned, he really came on."

On the damage of the two losses vs. UC Davis

"What you have to realize is that at the end of the season, in all of those tournaments the at-large teams lost two games.  Every team.  Rice lost two games.  Nebraska lost two games.  All of those teams that didn't win it lost two games.  We lost two games.  Then again, we were out-of-league, so it's kind of weird.  You think, 'Oh my God, that really killed us.'  But for me, the loss that was more critical for us was the Sunday game at UCLA.  If we win that game, we are going to be 12-12 and probably tied with them in the league.  And they were going to go.  I thought we were going to go.  Somebody asked me before Friday night, 'Do you have to win one or two?'  Then after Friday night, 'Is it a must win tomorrow?'  And it wasn't.  You say to yourself and say to your team that we have to win this, but it isn't.  It's the overall picture, and I knew our RPI was good from general knowledge of it.  Yeah, we were disappointed because we wanted to play well - especially on Friday night when we had Senior Night.  But we got it stuffed to us.  You talk about pitching - if you face the good pitcher who is dominating.  [Saturday] I thought we played pretty well and hit the ball pretty well, but we just faced a hot team.  They were just playing really well and hit three monstrous home runs.  It gets back to quality wins, strength of schedule/who you play, and obviously sweeping the Huskies who I thought might make it.  We hurt them sweeping them.  Sweeping Fullerton, beating Texas, beating Fresno State - we had a lot of things going for us.  RPI, strength of schedule and the people who we beat."

On what to address with the team this week to get back on track after Davis losses

"We have some pitchers who didn't throw this weekend because we only had two games on the weekend.  We will do a little bit of intersquad game.  We will get an umpire to come out here so that it is a little more game-like.  It will take two and a half to three hours.  Then we just need to get out of here because they have to arrange their classes.  We'll probably have to leave Wednesday.  Finals start I think a week from this Friday, so they have tomorrow and then have to leave mid-morning or early afternoon on Wednesday to get there.  We'll work out Thursday.  Practice is very limited.  It'll be more about today because tomorrow we will be bustling around trying to arrange their classes and stuff."

On the timing of a #2 starting pitcher decision and announcement

"We may not do that until we find out who we'll be playing.  It depends.  You don't know who you are going to play - winner or loser.  We'll match it up and see.  Obviously we will go with Reynolds [on Friday], but after that we'll just have to TBA and see who we are going to play."


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