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Eastern Illinois Press Conference
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
05/29/2008
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NCAA Lincoln Regional

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eastern Illinois Press Conference

 

Head Coach Jim Schmitz

Opening Statement

“The key thing is how well we’ve played at the end of the year. It took a while for us to develop. Towards the end of the season things started to develop, we pitched well the entire year. We went into the tournament with a lot of confidence and racked up four straight wins so we’re excited to be here but we’ve been playing really good ball the last couple of weeks so we’re pretty encouraged coming into this weekend.”

 

On shuffling the lineup throughout the season

“I think the key thing was awhile back I had Brett (Nommensen) in the three spot and moved him into the lead-off spot and put Zach (Skidmore) into the lineup. We had four games in the conference that I believe we didn’t score a run and with aluminum bats, that’s pretty unlikely. I went with more of an offensive lineup at the end. Alex Gee got into position there and played first base. We kind of struggled mentally in the middle of the year when we weren’t scoring runs or pitching well and that’s hard on everybody, so at the end we started scoring runs and it makes everyone more confident. Once the bats started going, the pitchers started going too and we pretty much had everything together on offense and defense at the end.”

 

On freshman pitcher Josh Mueller

“I think it’s amazing. I think the article in the paper made a comment about how he’s only a freshman. When he came into our program, we knew he had a lot of potential, and he kind of started as the No. 3 arm, then moved to No. 2 and No. 1. He handled the pressure situations in conference play really well, and he’s the guy that does a great job with his fastball. The thing for him is just how well he handles the pressure. To me, it doesn’t matter, the No. 1 pitcher is the guy who has to handle the pressure to have a big weekend. He’s done extremely well to give us a chance to do what we’ve done this season.”

 

On preparing Mueller for the Haymarket Park atmosphere

“We told him pretty much the same as always, don’t let all the fans get to you and just go out and play your own game. We played Missouri a couple of weeks ago, and the umpire was making it kind of rough on Josh. He didn’t handle it well, and it was a great experience for him. He learned a valuable lesson. The next couple of outings were phenomenal. Being a freshman, he learned things along the way, and that’s going to have a lot to do with tomorrow.”

 

On big crowds

“I think the crowd is in it if you don’t play well. If you start playing good baseball, then you take the crowd out of that. We haven’t talked about it at all with the team, but they’ve seen it on the internet. We really think our focus as a staff, even in the tournament, is that we didn’t talk a lot about the other team, we just talk about doing the things we do well. That’s why we’ve had such success.”

 

On scouting Nebraska

“We don’t give them the scouting report till about 20 minutes before game time. We used to break it down so much to the point that players didn’t play well. (Nebraska) likes to get hit by pitches, we know that, so we’re going to try to widen the batter’s box tomorrow. We go over that tonight, and then we try to touch over it tomorrow before the game.”

 

 

Outfielder Brett Nommensen

On reacting to the Haymarket Park environment

“We’ve all been online looking at the internet about all the crowds they’ve had all year. For us, it’s not a new experience to get a rush of the crowd when you first run out there. I’ve been telling the guys, they’re not really going to be on our side, so stay focused and go out and play ball. We’ll have fun out there if we’re playing good baseball.”

 

On his role

“Since I got back to a leadoff position, I’ve been there for pretty much my whole career. The first at-bat, my goal is to pretty much take as many pitches as I can and to make the pitcher work. When I’m up there, I’m just trying to get on base for the guys behind me to hit us in. For me, I’m not a real big guy. I’m just more of a run guy, trying to get in scoring position for the other guys to hit me in.”

 

On Nebraska throwing a mid-week starter

“It’s their preference. For me, it’s kind of like any day, any team can come out and win with good baseball. If they want to go ahead and save their No. 1 and they get unlucky and we end up winning, it’s their fault. For us, we don’t care who they’re pitching. We’re just going to go out and play. We have the scouting report on them, and they have the scouting report on us. They’re going to know a bunch about us; we’re going to know a bunch about them. We’re just here to play baseball and have fun.”

 

 

Infielder Jordan Tokarz

On being viewed as an underdog

“I feel like we are kind of (an underdog). No one is expecting us to do anything here, and as a team, we feel like we can do something. We’re playing really good baseball right now, so we’re just coming here to try to play some good baseball and have a little fun.”

 

On Nebraska

“I just know that it doesn’t matter who they pitch, they’re going to come with a good arm at us. They’re not one of the better hitting teams, but I know they’re going to be able to hit. That’s basically all I know about that.”

 

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