The four coaches in the top bracket of the College World Series met with members of the media on Friday to discuss their teams' upcoming runs in Omaha.
Dan McDonnell's comments are below.
THE MODERATOR: We'll introduce from left to right in his 12th season at Vanderbilt making his second trip to the College World Series, head coach Tim Corbin. In his eighth season at Louisville, making his third trip to the College World Series as a head coach, Dan McDonnell. Our next coach is in his seventh season at UC Irvine making his fifth appearance at the College World Series, including winning the title in 2001 with USC, UC Irvine's Mike Gillespie. And finally, making his 15th appearance as a head coach at the CWS with three national titles with Cal State Fullerton and two with Texas, Longhorn Skipper Augie Garrido. We would ask each of you to begin with an opening statement, and I'll ask first Dan McDonnell to begin.
DAN McDONNELL: We're going youngest, I guess, in order. That's sort of a joke. We're honored to be here. Obviously want to congratulate the other seven schools here. We know how difficult it is to get here and how much parity there is in college baseball. But really proud to represent the University of Louisville and our great fan base. Got a great group of kids playing hard, great coaches, and a fabulous administration. This is an honor for us, and we're really excited to be here again.
Q. First of all, coaches, congratulations for getting here to Omaha. I asked this question to the other coaches earlier. Just your thoughts on the style of defense that you play, speed in the outfield, arm strength, and your inner diamond, as well, shortstop, second baseman, catcher and center field as far as your defense and what that means to advance here and get to the two out of three.
DAN McDONNELL: We've got two senior catchers in Gibson and Crain that got to play in Omaha last year along with a talented freshman in Will Smith. Our middle infield, Sutton Whiting and Zach Lucas, two juniors that I think are very talented. The impressive thing about Sutton Whiting, he went through a slump about a month ago where I didn't realize it was like an 0 for 30 slump, but you would have never known that. Played great defense. That's tough for amateurs, not take their bat to the field and not expose their struggles.
Alex Chittenden, senior third baseman, has played great. I've got two first base mens in Danny Rosenbaum and Grant Kay, and in the outfield Jeff Gardner is the left fielder, but our other five guys who run around the outfield are center fielders, Cole Sturgeon, Corey Ray, Colin Lyman, Mike White and Logan Taylor. The emphasis of defense has been increased in our program with the change of the bats, and I'm not a big fielding percentage guy, but to me it's when you make errors as opposed to when you make plays is what really matters. So hopefully we'll continue to play good defense.
Q. Curious if you guys in both matchups feel like you play kind of a similar style of play as your opponent here. Obviously you guys are familiar with each other from last year and you guys have a long history together
I think as coaches. Do you feel like there are similarities with your styles, and if so, how does that impact these matchups?
DAN McDONNELL: Seems like a lot of similarities in our lineups. I think when you look at Vanderbilt and Louisville, I think the balance is there. They always seem to have a few guys with power, can hit home runs. They always seem to have some high stolen base threats in the lineup, they always seem to have a few guys that can bunt. Just seems to be 1 through 9 there's balance. There's never really a hole in the lineup or they're never one-dimensional in one area. They seem to be multi-dimensional, and they can do a little bit of everything, whether that's try to hit the doubles or the home runs or maybe even squeeze or steal a base or just seem to do a little bit of everything.
Q. When you have guys, players, 18, 19, 20 showing up, seeing this ballpark for the first time, this environment, any insights just by you observing them, aha experiences or words they said that kind of got you excited? Your thoughts about just observing your team show up here. They've all been on the field now, too, practicing.
DAN McDONNELL: I was fortunate to work with Mike Bianco for six years at Ole Miss, and of course he's from the Skip Bertman family. I was able to watch and learn, hosting regionals or super regionals. I used to talk to him about the media attention, and he had such great wisdom.
So we tried to create an atmosphere where we call it controlled chaos. We've got seven little kids on our staff. I shouldn't say little because a couple are in high school, but kids running in and out of the dugout during the season. We have great media outlets and support in a city like Louisville, Kentucky, so you try to create as much of a crazy atmosphere as you can, but obviously it's just not at this level. I do like how both coaches use the word trust, and the fact that we just keep telling our kids, keep the main thing the main thing, and let's enjoy this and have fun, but at the end of the day, it's trying to play good baseball, and hopefully the experience of coming here last year, still, you're going to be impressed and aha'd by everything as I am, but hopefully you just - you're a little more comfortable with it, a little more relaxed, because at the end of the day, you want to play good baseball.
Q. Mike has already announced his pitcher for tomorrow, but could the other three coaches announce their starters?
DAN McDONNELL: Sophomore, right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser.