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Friday June 5, 2009UF Baseball Pre-NCAA Super Regional Quotes

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and several members of the ninth-ranked Gator baseball team met with the media on Friday prior to their final practice before starting NCAA Super Regional action tomorrow at 3 p.m. against No. 17 Southern Miss.

 

Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan

On Southern Miss:

“They kind of remind me a lot of us. They’re balanced up and down the lineup, they’ll bunt for hits and they’ll hit and run a bunch. They have a great closer at the end of the game like we do, and they have quality starters too. They’re really similar to us.”

 

On the approach to this weekend’s series:

“We’ve pretty much taken the same approach to be honest with you. Obviously, there’s more riding on this weekend but we haven’t approached it any differently than we would any other weekend. I think playing in the SEC certainly helps you with that approach because every weekend the margin for error is so small. You have to approach every weekend the same, whether you’re playing a team that made the conference tournament or not, everybody’s pretty good. I think it’s the same thing here.”

 

On the keys to the game:

“I think [getting into the opponent’s bullpen] is probably key for anybody right now. I think momentum is a big key. I think we’ve certainly had some innings where we’ve spread ourselves apart from the other team because of momentum. We’ve played really well at home and hopefully we’ll continue to do that. We went through our losses at home, and if you take away the three Miami games at the beginning of the year and the two Ole Miss games, that’s five of our eight losses at home. We’ve only lost three games at home without those two series. We play awfully well at home and hopefully that will continue.”

 

On the Southern Miss starters:

“They’re real good. J.R. Ballinger’s got a good arm, the ball sinks, he’s got a lot of movement and he’s aggressive. I think the biggest thing I’ve seen out of their pitchers is that they’re very aggressive. They’re a lot like us; they want to pound the strike zone early in the count. (Todd) McInnis, the Conference USA Pitcher of the Year, is a competitor. He throws four different pitches for strikes. We certainly do have our hands full. This is a really, really good Southern Miss team and we’re going to have to play well.”

 

Sophomore Second Baseman Josh Adams

 

On Preston Tucker’s evolution throughout his freshman season:

“I am not surprised at all with how he has progressed. I was here over the summer with him. Defensively, you can’t get worse when you take 200 ground balls a day out here. I expected his progress hitting because his batting practice has gotten a lot better from the fall until now. When we first got here, everything was off the scoreboard and now he can hit them into the bleachers if he wanted to.”

 

On opposing pitchers pitching around Preston Tucker:

“That’s actually something that I haven’t seen. He told me earlier that I have actually helped him because pitchers want to throw to him even though he has better stats than me. That’s just because he’s a freshman but I don’t understand it. I’m hitting well, but if I had to pick which one to throw to, I would definitely rather throw to me right now. He’s a freshman so he’s going to get fastballs because he’s younger but that will definitely change next year.”

 

On Southern Miss:

“I know that they’re a scrappy team. They play like we do and they have a couple guys on the mound that are good. Playing in the SEC, we face that every weekend but we know it’s going to be a battle. At this point in the season, it’s not like we are going to face a team that just got in somehow. We’ll be ready. Everyone is focused.”

 

On playing at home:

“It’s definitely an advantage. Last weekend, we were shocked when people were already in their seats when we went out to take pre-game infield. The fan support has been great the past couple of weeks. It’s just nice to play at home because we are comfortable here in our stadium and in our dugout.”

 

Senior Left Fielder Avery Barnes

 

On the fan support:

“We are all hoping we have as big of a crowd as possible. We haven’t hosted a Super Regional since 2005 so we hope this place will be absolutely packed and be a nice environment to play in. We’ve gone to places like LSU and Georgia where the crowds are really into the game and I’m hoping that for this Super Regional that our fans will be just the same.”

 

On the College World Series just one series away:

“Obviously, that is in the back of our minds but we try not to look that far into the future because we still have a tough task in front of us. We only have a couple guys on this team right now who have been to Omaha and they know what it’s like to be there. Most of us have never been there but we know what a tradition it is and that it’s the pinnacle of college baseball. That’s always been our goal and after this weekend we are hoping it will be a reality.”

 

On being the leadoff hitter:

“I love it. I love the opportunity to be the guy who starts the game off. It’s up to me the very first at bat and it’s fun to be that guy who gets things going. It’s a role and a responsibility that I like to accept and hopefully this weekend things will work out for me in that role.”

 

On his plate discipline:

“It’s definitely something that I’ve had to develop. I’ve always been a free-swinging type of guy but this late in the season I know how important it is to have as many guys on base as possible. You can’t score runs unless you have people on base so that has been my role any way that I can. As long as I can do my job and give guys like Preston and Josh the opportunity to get some RBI, then I am happy.”

 

Junior Right-Hander Billy Bullock

 

On adjusting to becoming a reliever:

“Coach O’Sullivan really helped me a lot. I had never been a closer before so talking to him has really helped me to understand my role. Also, watching guys across the country on television do the same thing really helps a lot too.”

 

On being aggressive toward batters:

“It makes you a lot more at ease because you know that earlier in the count they are supposed to hit the ball. We have a great defense behind us so it takes a lot off of my shoulders.”

 

On the season, both personally and as a team:

“This year has been a very good one for me personally but also for the team. If someone had told us after the first week of SEC play after we got swept by Arkansas that we would be playing at home in the Super Regional, I don’t think that many people would believe that. I think our younger guys grew up a lot and our older guys picked each other up throughout the season to get us here. It helps a lot when a team has confidence in the younger players to go out there and make an impact on the game.”

 

-UF-

 

 

 

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