Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
NCAA Tucson Regional Press Conferences
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 31, 2012
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May 31, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. - The 2012 NCAA Division I Baseball Tucson Regional opens up on Thursday with a scheduled 75-minute practice session and a pre-tournament press conference for all four participants.

The regional's top seed, host Arizona (38-17), begins with practice at 10 a.m. Second-seeded New Mexico State (35-22) follows at 11:30 a.m., while No. 3-seed Louisville (39-20) and No. 4-seed Missiouri (32-26) conclude the practice sessions. All press conferences will be streamed live at and archived.

Two media sessions have been scheduled, with New Mexico and Arizona taking the stage from 11-11:30 a.m. Missouri and Louisville will hold their sessions between 2-2:30 p.m.

The championship gets underway on Friday. Louisville takes on New Mexico State at 4 p.m. The nightcap will pit Missouri against Arizona at 8 p.m. Both games will be televised live on ESPNU.

Thursday Press Conference Schedule

Session I (Archived Video)
11-11:10 a.m. - New Mexico State
11:20-11:30 a.m. - Arizona

Session II (Archived Video)
2-2:10 p.m. - Missouri
2:20-2:30 - Louisville

2012 Division I Baseball Championship - Tucson Regional
Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes
Thursday, May 31, 2012


Head Coach Rocky Ward

On his team's disciplined plate approach:
"As a young baseball coach, my father noticed that his players were hitting the heck out of the ball, but right at people. The goal is not to get hits; it's to get base runners. Our philosophy is to not swing at pitches that we can only single on. We try to swing at pitches that we can double, triple and homer on. That's why you'll see us at the top or near the top every year in OPS, on-base plus slugging percentage, which is the number one indicator of how many runs you'll score. We happen to be number two this year behind a Utah Valley team that can swing the bat a little bit."

On the importance of winning the first game in the regional:
"Game one's important in any series, whether you're talking about the NBA Playoffs, the World Series or a regular season baseball series. Obviously you want to win the first game or else you have a long road ahead of you. The uniqueness of playing on the west coast in the Western Athletic Conference is that the travel is insane. And Arizona has to deal with this a little bit, too. We have to play five and six game weeks sometimes, which builds depth. So we're not worried about having to play a lot of games, but it is very important to win game one."

On Tucson native, freshman pitcher Trey Higginbotham:
"He's a freshman who got very little time early, but he's made the best of the work we've given him. He's a mature freshman who we want to be able to come out and give us a full inning, which he's proven that he can do. He has a bright future with this program."

Senior RHP Scott Coffman

On playing in the postseason for the first time in his career:
"It's exciting. It's something that every team strives for. It's exciting for our team and for Coach Ward. As a college baseball player, everyone dreams of this."


Head Coach Andy Lopez

Opening Statement
"We're excited. I'm happy for Tucson and the college baseball fans in the community. I'm happy we're home and I'm just happy for the community. We have to come out and play good baseball, which is what we've been doing the last few weeks. Again, I'm just happy we get to play at home and I'm happy for this community."

On the regional atmosphere at Hi Corbett:
"I was talking to my wife about it and I'm glad we're on TV. We recruit nationally and I'm excited that a player from Louisiana can see Hi Corbett and this atmosphere through ESPN. Being on TV might affect our attendance, but that's OK. I might be one of those guys to stay home and watch it on my couch."

On the home field advantage Hi Corbett provides:
"It's a big advantage. Being the head coach for 11 years, I really felt it this year (moving to Hi Corbett). This weekend was a perfect example. The crowd was electric on Friday and Sunday, and even Saturday. I mean no disrespect to Sancet Field, I love it there, but being here is special. You want to win so that you can stay at home at the end of the season."

On Missouri being "hot" entering the regional after winning the Big 12 Tournament:
"Honestly, you always expect someone to be coming into the regional hot. Somebody's going to come into a regional and you think, `boy, those guys are on fire.' Missouri might be that team, but for us, I remember looking at our schedule at the beginning of the year and seeing seven straight road games at the end of the year. We had to play three at Cal, a tough place to play, three at USC, and any trip to Los Angeles is difficult, and a game at our archrivals. We won six of those seven games and then came home to win two of three against ASU, so we're playing good baseball now, too."

On Missouri entering with an advantage due to already playing and excelling in postseason play, at the Big 12 Tournament:

"If I were the Missouri coach, I would say yes. But, I've told these guys that we've been playing postseason the last three weeks. After losing two-of-three to Oregon, I told them that we couldn't lose another series the rest of the way if we wanted to win the Pac-12 Championship. If we lost two-of-three in any of the last three series, there would have been no celebration, no trophy or white shirts that said, `Pac-12 Champions'. So, Missouri's been in postseason for one week, we've been in postseason for three weeks."

Junior RHP Kurt Heyer

On his plans in preparation for tomorrow's game:
"I was planning on going to Scottsdale tonight to see some people. I'm planning on waking up tomorrow and seeing a movie, I'm a big movie guy. This might sound weird, but I want to see that new Snow White movie. The game's not until eight I got time to get a good meal before coming out to the ballpark."

On the nerves this weekend:
"We've been through this for three years, so we know what to expect. This isn't much different from the Stanford or ASU series. I don't see it as much of a difference going out in the postseason and the regular season. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself and try too hard, I just have to go out there and make my pitches."

Junior Shortstop Alex Mejia

On the team's mental makeup heading into postseason:
"The biggest part is experience. Coach tells us sometimes that we're trying too hard, so we just have to relax out there and play good baseball."


Head Coach Tim Jamieson

On the school’s upcoming move to the Big 12:
“There are more elite teams in the SEC than the Big 12. You can speculate, but until you get there and you experience the travel and everything for a year, you don’t really know.”

On different experiences in the NCAA Tournament as a four seed vs. a one seed:
“This year it really feels like our conference tournament was a part of the NCAA Tournament. We’re excited that we still get to keep playing. Of course we want to win, but we’re happy that our season is still going. Obviously being the four seed, there’s less pressure. We’re not expected to win; anytime you’re expected to win there’s pressure.

On Hi Corbett Field:
“The first thing that stood out to me on the stat sheet was that Arizona hit a lot of doubles. Then I saw the field and I understand why. I can see that it holds a lot of people so there should be a crowd. Now we have to do our job and show them some good baseball.”

Senior Catcher Ben Turner

On what he knows about Arizona:
“Not too much. We haven’t played anyone from the Pac-12 the last few years. We know that they can swing the bats. They’re hitting well over .300 as a team so we know that we have to throw strikes and go from there.”

On game one starter Blake Holovach:
“Blake Holovach is a lefty, throws low 90s. He’s been working in a slider all season and had it working probably the best all year last week at the Big 12 Tournament. He’s going to compete for us. He’s not going to be intimidated. He’s seen and beat some the Big 12’s best pitchers and he’s confident coming off last week.”

On whether the team discusses the 2004 team, which made it out of the NCAA Regional as a four seed:
“A little bit. We know we have that history. We’ve done it before; we’ve been there before”

Senior RHP Jeff Emens

On the team’s run through the Big 12 Tournament:
“If you look a last year, we had the same type of run, but we just weren’t able to finish the job. So that experience gave us a boost this year. Also, we played right with the best teams in the Big 12.”

On Hi Corbett:
“It’s nice. It’s awesome. There’s a great atmosphere and there’s a lot of history. I know Major League was filmed here.”


Head Coach Dan McDonnell

On New Mexico State:
“Looking at their stats, they seem to be an aggressive offensive team, American League style, like how we used to be. I know they play in a pretty small ballpark, which would explain why they play the way they do.”

“We have balance in a lot of areas. We have four senior stars. You normally don’t have that many, maybe one or two, but we have four. We have a lot of young guys, too. We have plenty of arms. We want to be in the winner’s bracket, but if we have to fight our way back from the loser’s bracket, we have enough arms to do it. We’ve got a balanced lineup with a few guys that can hit it out of the park, a few guys that hit line drives and a few guys that can steal bases. So I like the balance that we have.”

On changing style of play:
“We had to change a little bit of everything, recruiting. We used to try and sneak two or three designated hitters in our lineup, but you can’t really do that anymore. You’ll see that our freshman class is very athletic.”

Senior OF/1B Stewart Ijames

On the team’s changing of its style of play:
“We used to be a three-run homer type offense. It used to be that we were an aggressive fastball hitting team. Even with two strikes. We’re still a fastball hitting team, but we have a better two-strike approach. We can foul good pitches off and hit off-speed pitches now.”

Senior RHP Derek Self

On taking two games from top-ranked rival Kentucky:
“I think it was our mindset. There’s a mindset that says, ‘they’re the number one team in the country and they’re better than you.’ But we knew we could beat them.”



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