May 31, 2012
NCAA Regional Central
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Army baseball head coach Joe Sottolanoaddressed the media at Davenport Field following Thursday's practice. The fourth-seeded Black Knights face top-seeded Virginia on Friday in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional.
Head Coach Joe Sottolano
(Ref.: opening statement)
"First of all, I'd like to thank the athletic department here at the University of Virginia for being such gracious hosts. We're proud to be here, and we're excited to be here. I'm sitting next to three outstanding coaches, who have taken their programs to places where we want to be. Obviously, the two to my left (Oklahoma's Sunny Golloway and Virginia's Brian O'Connor) have been here several times. And, we had the privilege of playing Appalachian State a few years ago, and it's no surprise that they're here as well.
"We're a very young club in a lot of ways. We start four or five freshmen each ballgame. I didn't know exactly what we were going to get out of this team this season, but when you think about West Point, you think about leadership, and that's really what our team represents. My hat goes off to our seniors and our captains for pulling together a very young team. I hope that each and every one of our kids command your respect for what they stand for, but this weekend, I hope you will also respect them as Division I baseball players. We look forward to this opportunity, and we appreciate the teams that we're about to face. They're going to be difficult foes, but hopefully we'll meet them head on and play to win. I congratulate the coaches to the left and right of me, and I feel privileged to be a part of this group."
(Ref.: the identity of the Army team this season)
"We lost a lot of very good ballplayers off of last year's team, but we brought in a lot of youth. I don't think we're an overly big ballclub, and we realized that coming into the season. We knew we had to play a different brand of baseball than what we're accustomed to. It was really going to have to be a total team effort, and that's exactly what we've gotten. What we tried to do throughout the year was to have the sum be greater than the individual. We always say that good teams beat great players, and we need to be the best team that we possibly can be. We're going up against some great players and some great teams this weekend, and we'll see where we stack up at the end of the weekend. For us, we're looking to stick with our philosophy; we're going to try to be the best team that we can be. We'll look to slow the game down, minimize defensively and take advantage of our "Wopportunities when they present themselves."
(Ref.: the performance of Gunnar Carroll this season)
"I think Gunnar has really developed (since arriving at West Point) and we're excited about that. When we recruited Gunnar, we recruited him two ways. We understood that he was a talent, but we also thought that he had a lot of upside. What we didn't realize was how much leadership potential he had. He has really taken on more of a leadership role this season. I think Gunnar's makeup is what has allowed him to be successful on the mound this year. He's a leader as a sophomore, and he's someone a lot of people look up to. He enjoys his time on the mound; you'll see him smile and laugh sometimes on the mound, and he keeps our guys loose. He throws three pitches for strikes and competes in the strike zone all day long. We're excited about the person Gunnar is, and he has the intangible of making other people around him better. I think he's wearing the right uniform; he represents it well."
(Ref.: how the long break between the Patriot League Tournament and the NCAA Regionals affected the team's preparation)
"The break was actually rewarding in some ways. We practiced through it and worked some things out. We stayed focused and tried to play the game at game speed. It isn't optimal, but it might have come at the right time."
(Ref.: the performance of Chris Rowley this season)
"Chris is very athletic, and he's extremely competitive. He'll throw three pitches for strikes at any given moment, and he has a lot of sink and run on his ball. He's competitive in the strike zone, and a lot of credit for that goes to our catcher J.T. Watkins, who does a tremendous job of leading him. Our defense behind Chris has done a nice job all season as well. Chris is very competitive and he's obviously able to do some things well. Overall, I always say the close ballgames are won by the pitcher's ability to field his position and be athletic, and Chris certainly shows the ability to do that."