March 2, 2011
WILMINGTON, N.C. - With five games down and two to go on his team's Spring Break trip to North Carolina, head coach Joe Godri gave his weekly Coach's Corner update on Wednesday afternoon from Wilmington, where the team will play its next two games before heading home.
In this week's update, Godri discussed the challenges that come with playing five days in a row, the opportunity to get a look at a number of different players and lineup variations, and what the team can expect in the final two games of its trip. This week's update is below. Video of Godri's weekly Coach's Corner will return next week.
Godri is giving a weekly update in his Coach's Corner for the eighth straight season. His updates will be released each Wednesday during the season. This year for the first time many of Godri's updates will be via video as he discusses recent news and stories about the Wildcats, highlights key player performances and previews the upcoming week's opponents.
March 2 Coach's Corner
On playing five consecutive days: This is the second straight year that the team has had a stretch of five straight days playing games and I am not sure it is something I ever want to do again. One of the things we have done is play around with the lineup and batting order a little bit and I think we have used a different batting order each day. To some degree that is a good thing because we have been able to incorporate some of the freshmen in there. This early in the year we are trying to figure out a lineup that is going to gel and I don't think that has happened yet, and may not happen until [junior infielder] Tyler Sciacca returns to the lineup. This is part of the development of a ball club every year and especially this year when we see our offense as an area of development.
On the progress he has seen the offense making: We have a good ball club and what we need to do know is put together complete innings and complete games. In the second game at Duke I think we had runners on base in six or seven of the nine innings but we had trouble finishing things off. We hit into a double play with the bases loaded and one of our faster runners at the plate. It seems like we have had some bizarre double plays. In some of these games it seems that every little mistake we make has come back to haunt us on the scoreboard. The team has done some really nice things offensively with hitting for a good average or in our bunting and running game. Those things look nice on the stat sheet but so far they haven't paid off for us on the scoreboard.
On freshmen Michael Erb and Connor Jones: We have had an opportunity to get both of these guys into the starting lineup in several games and for the most part they each have done a nice job. Erb has done well offensively when he has been in there. Jones has had a couple of tough days in there but he also had an at-bat with the bases loaded where he drove a ball into the gap and it was caught on a diving catch in the outfield. That robbed him of some RBIs in a spot where he hit the ball well enough to get a pretty big hit for us.
On junior pitchers Kyle Helisek and Kyle McMyne: We see these guys as being two of the better pitchers in the BIG EAST and they both have lived up to our expectations in their first two starts. It is certainly a good sign to see each of these guys throwing the ball so well. Helisek has pitched extremely well in both of his games. In his start against Duke he had them shut out and had them beat but came out with a lead after the seventh inning. A few more weeks into the season he might have had a chance for a complete game but at this point in the year we still have all of our pitchers on a pitch count. McMyne has thrown the ball very well and after an inning at Duke that included two walks and a hit batter he shut them down the rest of the way as well.
On the team's freshmen pitchers: Our young pitchers are very similar to the position guys that we have talked about before. The pitchers are getting their feet wet and that can be tough. Matt Lengel and Max Almonte were really good versus Norfolk State but they got it handed to them a little bit against Duke in front of a bigger crowd. That is part of the development process with young pitching and that's okay. We are seeing a lot of good things in the innings thrown by our young pitching and it is good for them to get experience against quality offenses so early in the season. It is only two weeks into their career but these guys are going to pitch meaningful innings for us this season and they are going to lead us to some meaningful wins.
On playing a game in Durham Athletic Park: The park in Durham is a historic site, the former home of the Durham Bulls and it opened in 1926. There is a lot of history with Hank Aaron having played there and our guys really could appreciate all of the history once we got there. In addition to all of that the field is also a training site for minor league grounds crews. As a result the playing surface itself in the stadium may have been one of the best we have ever played on. The surface was very fast but the field was manicured to perfection and it reminded me of playing in Citizens Bank Park. The upkeep of the field is as good as any pro park I have seen.
On playing a game at the USA Baseball Complex: The USA Baseball facility was great. We had a chance to see the stadium and we played on one of the side fields. Every field we saw had a beautiful, major league quality infield. I feel that it is very important to give our guys an opportunity to play games in a big-time venue or somewhere that has a lot of history to it. The players really appreciated those opportunities on this trip so we got what we wanted out of that.
On the next two games against UNC-Wilmington and Holy Cross: We are going to have our hands full in both games. UNC-Wilmington is perennially a CAA champion caliber club and a team that can get an at-large bid to a regional. We are going to face their top starting pitcher. They are also very aggressive offensively on the bases and we will need to play good defense. When we face Holy Cross, we are going to see a left-handed pitcher who was rated as the top pitcher in the Patriot League by College Baseball Insider. He is going to match up against Kyle Helisek and we should see a great game from both teams.
On what Villanova will look for in the next two games: We need to find a way to play well in these next two games. We will have a workout on Thursday and more so than the opponent right now we aren't playing very well ourselves so the team has to get back to playing complete games. When we get back onto the field on Friday against Wilmington we will try to win the first inning and go from there. Then it will be the same thing against Holy Cross. After these two games we head home and we will certainly look forward to being back on our home field.