Coach Leggett, Taylor Harbin Preview Tiger Baseball’s Trip to the College World Series

Coach Leggett, Taylor Harbin Preview Tiger Baseball’s Trip to the College World Series

June 12, 2006

Jack Leggett, Head Coach

How does this team stack up against the other teams you’ve taken to Omaha?

“Our starting pitching is real good. Our defense has been good. We’ve gotten some clutch hits. When our starting pitching has faltered a little bit, our relief pitching has picked us up. We’ve been coming up with some timely hits lately, which is a real positive at this time of the year. Hopefully we can keep that up. The competition gets ratcheted up just a little bit in this next tournament. I think we’ll be ready for it.”

How do you feel about the first round matchup against Georgia Tech?

“It’s a good thing in that they know us and we know them. It’s nice to know you’re not going out to Omaha and facing an unfamiliar team in an unfamiliar spot. They’re a good baseball team and we know what we’re up against. They’re very dangerous offensively, so we’re going to have to do some good things pitching-wise. We can’t give them any extra outs.”

Since nobody on the team is familiar with Omaha has there been extra talk with the team about preparations?

“We’ve been explaining to them how it all works out there. You have to relax, go out there and play as if it’s your home field. You have to play with no fear of failure, with reckless abandon, and play on that edge that we’ve always had. We need to play with confidence. We’ve talked about all the obligations there are with the media, the practice schedules, and how you have to pack. A lot of things have to be taken care of today.”

What has been different about coaching this team versus your other teams from the past?

“We’ve got a little more speed on the bases than we’ve had in the past. We have some power and good two-strike hitters. We can bunt a little bit. Normally, we play pretty well defensively. Our pitching, from top to bottom, is probably as deep as we’ve had. I’m hoping that we can go out there and just play like we’re capable of playing. That’s the thing we’re interested in seeing. We have to go out there loose and play like we know we can play.”

Will there be any reshuffling of your pitchers or how will that work in Omaha?

“That’s a good question. The format in Omaha is totally different. We went out there in 1995 and Kris Benson never pitched. Then, in 1996, he got two starts. It all changes a little bit because you have space between the games. It’s not like at the ACC Tournament when you have the possibility of playing five games over four days. Which is what we did. If you remain in the winner’s bracket, you have more opportunities to use less pitching. Some guys’ roles could change. Some guys that have started may be used as relievers. Some guys that relieve could be used as spot starters. You just never know what bracket or situation you will get thrown into.”

What did you learn in your last trip (2002) that you could take with you this time?

“I think we had a good combination in ’02. What happened to us was that we played two tough games and played well, then had to sit around for three days. We sat around all day Monday and Tuesday and didn’t play again until Wednesday night. I think we kind of lost our rhythm and had too much time to think about it. I’ll just try to keep these guys loose and have some fun with it. But at the same time, you have to be intense. We can’t play like we did the first three innings in the games her this weekend (Super Regional wins over Oral Roberts) and expect to get by with it. We have to have a little better focus, but at the same time we need to relax and not play tight.”

Taylor Harbin, Second Base

Have you had a chance to reflect back on the weekend yet?

“I think it has set in a little bit. It’s kind of like I’m living a dream. I think it’ll really set in when we touch down in Omaha and walk out into Rosenblatt Stadium. But right now it’s kind of like a dream; you just can’t believe it.”

How will the team approach the College World Series?

“There will definitely be a mix of nerves and excitement going there. Watching it on TV will be a huge difference from actually playing there. After the first couple of innings in the first game, I think the team will settle down and it’ll just be another game. We’ll keep playing the way we’ve been playing all year.”

What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been going into a game?

“I would probably say last year’s third game in the Super Regional against Baylor. That’s the biggest game I’ve ever been a part of in college. Knowing that was an elimination game for both teams and the impact of the game itself, it was huge on both teams. I think that’s probably the most nervous I’ve been in a game.”

Can you draw something positive from that experience?

“I think so. Having that first big game in college was a learning experience for me. I know how to approach it now. I can help some of the younger guys on the team and how they approach it. We’ve been in front of big crowds before, so that won’t be a big difference for us. It’s just a new environment, but I think we’ll be up for the challenge and ready to go.”

Has your preparation for the length of this season helped you and can you relay that experience to some of the younger guys?

“Some of the guys talked about feeling a little run down. I just told them a big part of this was getting in the weight room and conditioning a few times a week during the season. It’s such a big help in the postseason like this. Sometimes you’re gone and not playing at home and therefore might not have the luxury of some of the equipment we have here. By us getting in there once or twice a week, I think that’ll be a big help for everybody.”

Have you felt the excitement on campus?

“Everybody’s real excited for us. Everywhere we go, people are always telling us ‘congratulations’ and ‘good luck in Omaha’. This summer, a lot of people are still around and rooting for us and following us. It’s been a great feeling.”