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NCAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP REGIONALS: CHAMPAIGN


May 31, 2015


Mik Aoki

Cavan Biggio

Kyle Fiala


CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS

Wright State ¬Ė 4
Notre Dame - 0


MIK AOKI:  Firstly, wanted to say thank you to Illinois and the NCAA for a great tournament.  Secondly, I want to take my hat off to Wright State.  And their kid, I thought he pitched a heck of a game.  I thought he came in with a plan.  He did a phenomenal job of executing their plan and best of luck to them moving forward it. 
For us, obviously, difficult day to lose two.  Felt like we had a really good chance to get into the winner's bracket today with the way things were lining up.  But it wasn't meant to be.  I thought Brandon Bielak pitched very well.  I thought Brad Bass pitched very well.  They just made a few more plays, a few more swings of the bat.  College baseball season comes to an end in an awfully big hurry.  This one came to an end in an awfully big hurry today.
Proud of our guys.  Proud of our team.  Probably my biggest disappointment is the fact that I'm not going to be able to wake up tomorrow and not have an opportunity to continue coaching these kids.

Q.  Talk about what this season looks like and how you'll look back on it?
CAVAN BIGGIO:¬† Sort of the biggest thing is the comeback from the year we had last year.¬† Our nine or ten seniors with their leadership, to bring us back for a year that we weren't very proud of last year, and to have a success and make a regional for the first time in nine years‑‑ the biggest impact on this year is that‑‑ how much fun we had as a team doing it.¬† I'm going to miss all the seniors, and we're going to be back here next year and make it a yearly thing.
KYLE FIALA:¬† I think this season was special.¬† I think like Cavan said, coming back from last season, we came in with a plan this off‑season with the coaches and this team.¬† We established a whole new culture and we all bought into it.¬† We didn't let that go for one day.
We just all bought into it and we had an awesome classes ahead of us who led us along the way and helped us along the way.  It's a special, special team this season.

Q.  Why was he so tough today?
KYLE FIALA:  He was going away with a lot of his stuff.  He had a little cut on his fastball that he was going away with.  We just had to go to the plate looking at the opposite field.  The kid did an awesome job.  He commanded his stuff well and kept us off balance and he did a good job.
CAVAN BIGGIO:¬† As a left‑hander, he liked to come in with a cutter and he wanted you to roll over on him and hit a ground ball out to the right side.¬† The coaches did a great job with their defensive alignments.
We hit the ball pretty hard.  We hit it right at the second baseman, the first baseman; so we have to tip the hat off to them.

Q.¬† Obviously your off‑season is going to be a lot different than it was last year.¬† Between now and then, what's the next step for this team and this program?¬† How do you get to the next level?¬† What do you do during the off‑season, which obviously will be different than what this past one was?
CAVAN BIGGIO:  Well, I think we just kind of do the same thing.  Right after this, most of our guy also go to summer ball and they will work on their individual game and they will work on things that they were not able to do during the school year because they had class.
I think with a good transition this year, that guys are able to work in summer ball.  And in fall, we're going to just keep doing the same thing, build team camaraderie with the new freshmen coming in and build the same culture that they did this year.
KYLE FIALA:  I think we'll all go out and play and have little things that we want to improve on.  When we get back in the fall, I think the biggest thing with calf and I and all the guys is just we'll welcome these new guys in, into this team, and we'll immediately get after it.
We have a job to do.  We have got to lead those new guys and show them how it's done, and luckily we had classes ahead of us who showed us how to do it.  So now we've kind of got to fill in and do that to these young guys coming in.

Q.¬† Is there any whiplash‑‑ I can't imagine what it's like to go to the winner's bracket to out of it completely in six hours.¬† What's that like?
KYLE FIALA:  I think the toughest thing is to see this season come to an end.  It was such an awesome season with such a special team.
So, yeah, it's just tough to have it come to an end today.  We'd like to keep playing but things didn't fall the way we wanted them to, and I thought we competed all day.  You know, we didn't get the wins, but it's just a special team and we did a lot of good things.
CAVAN BIGGIO:  Like Coach said, waking up this morning, we thought we had a good chance to get into the winner's bracket and kind of win this thing and on to the next round.  But it ended so quickly with these two games.
Right now, I didn't know what hit me or us.  We're going to wake up in the morning and we're not going to be able to go to the team room and have a meeting or get ready for batting practice.  That's just the biggest thing is that it just ended so much quickly than we thought it was.

Q.  What do you want to do now between now and then?  Obviously it's going to be very different for you and the coaching staff compared to last year.
MIK AOKI:  Well, I think like every year, whether it was a, quote, successful year or not as successful year as you might want, I think you take the time to reflect back on it and try to figure out what you might have done a little bit better if you could, what things really worked, what things resonated.
I know in the immediate or the next two days, we'll get a chance to sit down with a lot of these kids and get feedback on different things that did and what worked and what didn't.  As Cavan and Kyle both alluded to, a lot of them will go off to summer baseball and try to work on getting better in their own personal development and I think that's a big part of it. 
I think you look at two guys that did an exceptional job of doing that.  You look at a kid like Ryan Smoyer that did an exceptional job; Scott Tully; I think the list goes on and on of maturing and developing.  So that process will go on.
There will be a few guys that are back on campus and some of our younger arms that we'll shut down based on the number of innings and appearances and different things that they had.  Those kids will be in summer school and get themselves developed academically and all those things, and then we'll get back to it in the fall.
The challenge is, of course, that college athletics in general is such a transient thing where you have them for three years or four years and they move on.  It's a whole new group of kids.  Maybe some of your core is the same but the challenge is to get them to meld together somewhat like this one did.
It will be different.¬† It can be just as special.¬† It will be a little bit different, though, because the personalities will be different and then as a coaching staff, you just go out there and you hit the recruiting trail and you just kind of‑‑ you keep grinding through it and trying to sharpen the axe a little bit.

Q.¬† The numbers did not always bear it out offensively but you made such progress in terms of approach and quality at‑bats.¬† But you still have a ways to go.¬† How do you‑‑ that particular aspect of your game, how do you take that to another level?
MIK AOKI:  Well, I think a little bit of it is reflective of the fact that we were pretty dinged up for the majority of this season.  Jake Johnson never got back into our lineup.  He was a really big catalyst for us early on.  Lane Richards is a kid that we'll shut down because his elbow has been really inflamed for the past three weeks.  There are times where Ryan Bull wasn't in the lineup because of the separated shoulder.  Just we've been like a M.A.S.H. unit with center field in particular.
I think some of that will be reflected in just kids who are a little bit more consistently in the lineup and things like that.  And we just, you know, we just keep improving and just keep trying to hone it and get these kids going.  But at the same time, it's not an easy league to have a ton of success when you're in the ACC and you're facing the type of arms that they do and you wear the name Notre Dame across your chest, you tend to have a little target on your chest.

Q.  For the 63 teams in the tournament, the season ends in a loss; what are those conflicting emotions like for you right now?
MIK AOKI:  It will be difficult.  I've always marveled at how quickly a college baseball season comes to an end.  You're going, you're going, you're going, you're going, you're playing, and bam, all of a sudden, you're not playing anymore.  And you're not going to wake up and see this group of kids again.  You're not going to wake up and think about, okay, what do we need to do next to get this ready for the next thing.  It's incredible how quickly you have to transition.
But, you know, I think that you're proud and right now, you're hurting.  You know, it's like I told the kids, those guys, for those seniors, this is heartbreaking for them.  For a lot of those guys, it's the last highly competitive baseball they are going to play and that's a heartbreaking thing.
And they are leaving a pretty special place in Notre Dame and they are leaving some really special bonds with some kids on their team.  It's a heartbreaking thing.  But like we talk about working with pitch to pitch, we get by it.  We soldier on.  These kids are going to look back at the season ten years from now and they are not going to worry about the strikeout.  They are not going to worry about the home run that they hit or any of those things.
They are going to look back on all the great bonds that they made, the friendships that they made; all the stupid things I may have said to them during the course of the year; all of the stupid things they did together during the course of the year.  And a lot of that is what makes this game so special, and then doing it at a collegiate level so special.
If you look at Van Horn, he comes in with guys hitting almost  .310 off him.  And I know he was one of their staple guys but that was his second start for the whole year and he absolutely shoves it on us.  That's the great part of it.  It stinks to be on the wrong end of it, don't get me wrong.  But that's the special part of this thing; that you've got to go out there and you've got to play it and all of the emotions and everything else.  This isn't for the faint of heart, I'll tell you that.

Q.  You snuck up on guys this year.  How do you approach next season?  How do you tell the team to prepare being in that position next year?
MIK AOKI:  Well, for some of the guys, it's going to be a matter of getting healthy.  For some of the guys ares, it's going to be going out and playing and getting themselves better and working on their games and working on their craft.
For programatically, I think you talk about trying to get one percent better all the time.  Sharpen the axe on a daily basis just trying to get better.  That's what we are going to go about doing.
I think that for us, the future is incredibly bright.  We have got some really good kids coming in.  I think we are going to be better than we are this year.  We are going to face a bear of a schedule next year, but I think we are well equipped to go and do it.
And if our kids just go in there and take up that mantra of just trying to get a little bit better on a daily basis from now until next year, I'm hopeful that we'll be playing beyond this and this will be a victory press conference, rather than a losing press conference.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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