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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

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Tonight at 11:35 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:58 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    Tomorrow at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at Baltimore

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Pittsburgh

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: NC State vs. Boise State

    Tonight at 7:00 on WRAL-FM

  • HSFB: Millbrook at Wake Forest

    Tonight at 7:30 on 620am

  • CFB: NC State at UNC

    Tomorrow at 12:30 pm on WRAL-FM

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Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
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PIT
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CHA
GSW
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UF
UNC
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TULSA
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BOS 102
CHI 109
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ATL
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MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
 
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
 
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
 
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
 
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
 
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
 
4th
MIZZ 14
ARK 14
 
4th
SALABAMA 27
NAVY 35
 
3rd
ARZ 35
ARST 21
 
3rd
AFA 17
COLST 10
 
3rd
UCLA 10
STAN 28
 
8:00pm Tonight
VT
UVA
8:30pm Tonight
TULSA
ECU
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
 
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
 
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
 
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
 
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
 
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
 
2nd
OSU 66
JMU 50
 
2nd
TXSOU 63
LAM 51
 
2nd
TAMCC 68
MVSU 60
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
 
2nd
BUCK 70
PSU 78
 
2nd
PROV 63
YALE 55
 
2nd
UGA 30
MINN 43
 
2nd
WISC 42
OKLA 35
 
1st
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NORST 22
 
1st
PEAY 28
STEPH 44
 
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UAB
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11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
2nd Intermission
ANA 1
CHI 3
 
1st
WAS 2
NYI 2
 
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