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North Carolina

Tar Heels' perseverance pays off

Posted May 28

For the University of North Carolina baseball team, just getting into the NCAA tournament isn't normally the goal. Generally, the Tar Heels are in contention to host a regional or be a national seed.

However, this year the team did not perform as well as expected, and had to wait just to hear their name called when the field was announced.

Perseverance was the key for this ball club said head coach Mike Fox, whose team lost many close games throughout the season but continued to fight down the stretch.

“We’re in, and that is the most important thing right now,” said Fox on 620AM The Buzz Wednesday. “But we just kind of persevered, you know. Up and down, we lost so many close games, and they take so much out of a team… I’ve got to give our kids credit. They just kept on playing.”

UNC will join Long Beach State and College of Charleston as part of the Gainesville regional hosted by the University of Florida and many people are looking at this as the toughest regional in the field..

“We can’t be picky. When you wait to the very end for your name to be called, it doesn’t matter,” said Fox. “College of Charleston is the number four seed in our region. We played them in the beginning of the year and they beat us two out of three, so that tells you what you need to know about this regional.”

By recent standards the ACC had a down year as a whole, even though the league received seven bids, just one fewer than in 2013.

In 2013, five schools hosted regionals, as opposed to three this season, and four went on to host super regionals.

“If you look at the conference, we were a little top heavy with Miami, Florida State, and Virginia at the top,” said Fox. “I think the rest of us were fighting for hopefully fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh bids. That’s probably the reason this year. I think we’re pretty fortunate to get seven teams in this year.”

Shortstop Michael Russell, suffering with a back injury should have no problem playing, but Fox will be cautious as he looks out for his star’s future health.

“Michael’s ok. He’s day-to-day. We certainly need him to play for us and playing healthy,” said Fox. “The whole injury thing is something you kind of have to walk a thin line in that regards, from a personal standpoint. But it’s nothing serious. It’s just aggravating.”

The Tar Heels went on a slide to end the regular season, dropping four of their last six conference games to Miami and Florida State.

Fox said he is thankful for how the schedule ended in UNC’s favor, giving them experience against two top teams.

“I think we’re playing with confidence,” said Fox. “We really thought we played well at Miami. As it turned out, the back end of our schedule I think helped us. Had we been in that same situation, and not had Florida State and Miami down at the end, we might have won more games and not gotten in.”

Defense wins championships as the saying goes and Fox agrees whole heartedly.

“We’ve just got to play defense. That’s just the whole key for us. There’s a small margin of error for us. Our games are going to be really close; most of them are, in the regional because there’s really good pitching in the tournament. That’s why teams are there. You can’t make any mistakes or the other team will capitalize. One or two runs could win the game,” said Fox.

UNC returns several players who have previous NCAA tournament experience but has a host of freshman that will be gaining their first exposure to the tournament.

With the mix, Fox believes the Tar Heels will have an advantage this year and for years to come.

“We do have a nucleus of guys that are back, but we do have some young ones. That’s the great thing about going to the tournament. That not only helps you this year, but it also helps you down the road,” said Fox “I think our experience is going to help us on the mound especially.”

Fox believes with the perseverance his team has showed throughout the season, anything can happen.

“Now everyone is 0-0, so it’s kind of a new life force,” said Fox.

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  • Tar Heels Blue May 29, 9:11 p.m.

    Anyone who is an ACC sportsfan in the Triangle has probably seen footage of the State/UNC ACC Tournament baseball game and we have had the luxury of watching Turner's slide in at home plate. There were plenty of what ifs...what if the home ump had not been turned away from home plate as Turner started his approach....what if Turner had reached home plate a second sooner....what if Avent had started Rodon. I had no pony in the show, but had the call gone in favor of State, it is entirely possible that State would be heading to Gainesville. Nonetheless, UNC has possibly the toughest path to the CWS. Long Beach State is no pushover, nor is Florida, and if UNC wins that series, then they would most likely face Miami in the Regional. I wish the best for the ACC and most definitely for UNC.

  • 4tarheels May 29, 9:19 a.m.

    Way to stick it out in a down year. GO HEELS!

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh May 29, 5:50 a.m.

    Good luck to the Diamond Heels!

  • 45HEELSFAN45 May 29, 5:12 a.m.

    Keep it going Heels!!

    Still standing unlike others....

  • 903 Free Paul Frampton 2 May 28, 10:13 p.m.

    enjoy losing to long beach st. and college of charleston... again...

    Form Image

  • ncguy May 28, 9:27 p.m.

    Got lucky heels
    Make the best of it

  • ACC: North Carolina at Virginia

    Tomorrow at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Seattle at Carolina

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

    Sunday at 4:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Logan Zone with Steve Logan

    Tomorrow at 10:00 am on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
Final
CHA 79
IND 88
Final
DET 109
PHI 103
Final
NOP 88
DAL 85
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
NYK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
MIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
PHO
 
10:00pm Tonight
LAL
SAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
DEN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
 
Final
ECU 31
UCONN 21
Final
VT 6
MIAMI 30
7:00pm Tonight
CIN
SFLA
7:30pm Tonight
SALABAMA
TROY
9:00pm Tonight
BSU
BYU
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
OREG
Final
BOS 2
NYI 3
Final
DET 4
PIT 3
Final
MIN 2
ARI 0
Final
NAS 3
CHI 2
Final
STL 1
VAN 4
Final
CAL 5
CAR 0
Final
LOS 2
BUF 0
Final
SJS 4
CLB 5
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
WIN
TAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
VAN
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
CAR
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CLB
 
Final
DEN 35
SDC 21