March 14, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Over the past eight years Villanova head coach Joe Godri has taken pride in the two home tournaments that the Wildcats host each season during the lead up to the start of conference play. Villanova has traditionally been a very strong home team and has also attracted teams from all over the Northeast region and beyond to play in tournaments coordinated by the Wildcats and other Big Five teams.
The second of two tournaments for the 2013 season is this weekend, when Villanova joins with local schools La Salle, Saint Joseph's and Temple to host the Big Five Baseball Bash. The three opponents the Wildcats will face during the weekend are Chicago State (Friday, 3:15 p.m.); Marist (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.); and Wagner (Sunday, 12:15 p.m.).
One of the strong points for Villanova this season has been the weekend starting pitching. The trio of junior Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas), sophomore Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) and senior Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) has combined to make nine starts with a 3.38 ERA and an average of 5.9 strikeouts per nine innings. As a group they have made five quality starts and average just under six innings per start, even with lower pitch counts generally being the norm early in the season.
In advance of the tournament this weekend Godri sat down to talk about the Wildcats progress over the first four weeks of the season, as well as preview the teams that Villanova will face during the coming weekend. Below are his comments.
After two weekends where there were numerous weather delays and cancellations the team has been able to get on the field consistently over the past two weeks. Being able to get on the field just about every day early in the year is critical to the team's preparation for the rest of the season.
Godri: The most important thing for the young guys on this team is to get into as many baseball games as they can. They need game experience more so than they need practice, just to better understand the game and the speed that the college game moves at.
What do you look for in terms of the team making progress as they get more game experience?
Godri: The younger players need to understand our goals of putting balls in play and winning the on-base percentage battle every inning. We need to be able to consistently do those things in order to force opposing defenses to make plays. Right now we are not putting enough pressure on the other team's defense.
At this point in the season I look for the team as a whole to go out on the field and get better every day. We are still at a point in the season where measuring our progress as a ball club doesn't need to be about results yet but we need to be able to get better every day because when conference play starts then it becomes about results.
Is that an important message for the players to understand, that there needs to be progress made, sometimes regardless of the results?
Godri: The two midweek games we just played were a good opportunity for the younger guys to get that message. After a very tough day at Saint Joseph's where we had a big lead and lost the game we were back into a typical Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth game with cold temperatures and a lot of wind, where it was going to come down to winning the on-base game. We put men on base consistently against University of the Sciences but weren't able to drive them in with two outs.
The starting pitching has looked strong early in the season.
Godri: Our starting pitching has been very good. On the weekends with Pat Young, Josh Harris and Stephen Ostapeck we are getting a quality start nearly every time out. The starting pitching has become something that the rest of the team can rely on and it will be a staple of our success moving forward this season.
There have been five players to start in the infield that are first or second year players on the team. How have they performed to this point?
Godri: Each of our young infielders has demonstrated a very good arm at whichever position(s) they have played. The thing I like to see is that they are starting to play more relaxed in the field and that is an important step in their progress. It probably helped them to come home and play on the infield in Plymouth, where the ball moves a little slower because the field is still soft. In North Carolina and in Florida the infields are a lot harder and the ball moves much faster. Getting back to playing in our home park has definitely allowed the infielders to relax and be able to just play the game.
Can you give a preview of what to look for in the Big Five Baseball Bash this weekend?
Godri: Going into our second home tournament this weekend I am not as concerned with who our opponent is each day as I am with seeing us continue to focus on our daily approach to the game and to the process of being prepared to play. With that said however, I am very excited about the three teams that are coming in. Chicago State is playing in the Big Five Baseball Bash for the first time and I am eager to welcome them to our tournament. Marist and Wagner are teams that we have hosted before. With those two teams you know going in that they are well-coached and that they are going to play hard, play good defense and do all of the little things that give you a chance to be successful in a baseball game.