VandyMania Interview: Freshman OF Aaron Garza

Vanderbilt freshman outfielder Aaron Garza returns this weekend to his hometown of Austin, as the Commodores visit Texas for a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional series starting Friday at 6 p.m. CT (ESPN, 560 WNSR-AM). In this VandyMania exclusive, Garza looks back on his outstanding rookie season, and talks about the upcoming series vs. the No. 1 Longhorns.

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VandyMania: Aaron, first, congratulations on an outstanding performance in the NCAA regionals in Virginia. What is all this like for you, not only to be going to the Super Regional, but to be going back to play the games in your hometown?

Aaron Garza: I'm really excited, needless to say. I can't believe that I'm actually getting to go home, and we get to play Texas. I'm all fired up, and so are all the guys, that we've made it this far. But we're definitely not done yet. We're planning to go back home, get a couple of wins, and then head on to Omaha.

VM: Did you do all your growing up in Austin?

Aaron: Yes, I grew up about ten minutes away from the University of Texas. I was definitely a Longhorn fan. Growing up, you know, you go to football games, basketball games, baseball games. It's a huge deal in Austin. Their city supports them. Everybody grows up to be a Longhorn fan. My friends and I would always go to whatever game was going on.

VM: You were one of the top prospects in Central Texas. Did Texas look at you or get interested in you at all?

Aaron: Not a thing. No letters, no phone calls, nothing. So I kind of take that personally, kind of a slap in the face, that I grew up my whole life ten minutes away from them, and they didn't give me a look at all. So I'm definitely looking to have a good series this weekend.

VM: Maybe a little extra motivation, then?

Aaron: I definitely want to go out there and show them what kind of player they missed out on.

VM: Your teammate there was [Vanderbilt freshman pitcher] Ty Davis. Was Ty interested in them, or they in him?

Aaron: No, nothing.

VM: You were part of an outstanding high school program at Westlake High School.

Aaron: Yeah, before I was there they won a state championship. Last year, my senior year, we went almost to the semifinals. Coach Jim Darswick and Bob Abbott do a great job building a program. They have a great legacy of winning. We won our district last year, then lost in the third round of the playoffs.

VM: The Virginia series was an incredible series for the team, and you were a big part of it. You hit very well. Can you talk about some of the emotions of going through this year, and how you felt when you finally won that regional?

Aaron: From the very beginning of this year, there's been an air of excitement. Everybody on this team knew that we had a good team. There's been a lot of excitement all through this year. The further you go in the playoffs, it's do-or-die. You have to win. The excitement just builds.

VM: What was it like on Sunday, when you guys got the final out?

Aaron: It was-- I don't want to say a relief, but it was kind of like, OK, that's done. Now we've got to move on, move ahead. It was kind of like an obstacle that we had to get out of our way.

VM: It was more businesslike, rather than a sense of amazement, right?

Aaron: Absolutely. We're not awestruck that we're here. We're not satisfied that, "Oh, we made it to the Super Regional, that's great!" That's not the case. We know that we belong here. We know that there are a lot more games that we're gonna in. Whether other people believed in us or not, that doesn't really matter. Because we always believed in ourselves, and our support staff always believed in us. We know that we belong here.

VM: Are you surprised as a freshman that you've played as much as you have, and have been such a big part of the team's success?

Aaron: I don't know about all that, but... I won't say I'm surprised. Not that I came in here saying, I know I'm going to start right away. I just came in and knew I had a shot at playing. I just told myself that if I go out and play the way I can play, I've got a good shot. So really it's more that I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to play every day.

VM: What's the biggest difference between the pitching you saw in high school and the pitching you've seen in college?

Aaron: Oh, wow... velocity! Easily. Everybody you see pretty much can throw 88, 92 mph in college. In high school we saw maybe 70 in some games. So definitely velocity, and also command. Pitchers know where their ball is going.

VM: You guys are out of school now, but academically, how did your first year at Vanderbilt go?

Aaron: It went well. I ended up with about a 3.1. They gave me so much support, the staff here-- you've got study halls, and you've got people to help you. They make it to where, if you go to class and do your work, that's really all you've got to do. It is hard work though, to go to class and play baseball.

VM: You guys are going to be on ESPN this weekend, so you're on sort of a national stage. You're facing maybe the best team in the country in its own park. What's the team's mindset?

Aaron: Mainly, I know that we're not scared. We're not intimidated to play there and play those guys. It's just another game, another series. We've had 15 of them so far this season, and it's just going out and taking care of business. If we just go out and play our game, we'll be fine.


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