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May 23, 2016

Tom Walter

Durham, North Carolina

TOM WALTER: We are obviously excited to be part of the championship this year, and our team is pumped and ready to go. We've been playing pretty good baseball as of late. This past weekend, ran into a really good Louisville club obviously, but outside of that, feel really good.

We are healthy for the most part, and Parker Dunshee is going for us tomorrow night. He's on our ace and our go to guy all year, so obviously feel really good any time he's on the mound. We've got a rested bullpen, and like I said, healthy positionally. We know we'll have our hands full. Duke is playing really well right now and Kellen Urbon is throwing the ball well. We'll certainly have our hands full in the opener, but we're looking forward to getting back on the field.

Q. Your offense over the last month has really become like an offensive juggernaut throughout the ACC. Talk about those two guys, as well as what Will Craig brought to the middle part of your lineup.
TOM WALTER: Yeah, two through five in the lineup, starting with Mondou, then Fairchild, Gavin Sheets, really the lineup started to come together when we moved Mondou to the two hole and put Gavin in behind Will in the five hole, which really offered Will some protection.

Gavin swung the bat really well, and Mondou and Fairchild have been setting the table and getting on base. It's a lot harder to pitch around Will when there's two guys on than when there's none or one guy on.

Our lineup goes, as those guys around Will Craig go; Will is certainly in my opinion the best hitter in the League, and arguably the best hitter in the country and we have to put him in RBI situations to be successful. When Mondou and Fairchild are setting the table and Sheets is protecting him, our lineup goes, that's for sure. So I think you'd be hard-pressed to find four guys that row that are more dangerous than those four guys.

Q. What did you tell the team yesterday as you got the seeding and found out where you were in the tournament, and what did you tell them is the most important elements to having a successful week in Raleigh?
TOM WALTER: Well, going out there and playing with confidence I think is the key for us. I think when we're swinging the bat well and playing with confidence, we're a very good and a very dangerous team. When we don't play fast and we don't play loose, I feel like we get tentative at times, and I think that happened this past weekend against Louisville.

Now, obviously give credit to Louisville's pitching for the big part of that. We just never could grab any momentum in the series, other than the first inning of the third game there. But outside of that, Louisville's pitching kind of kept us on our heels all weekend.

We've just got to get back to that aggressive mind-set offensively, because we feed off of our offense and we feed off of Parker Dunshee when he pitches. Getting something going in the top of the first and having Parker come out and throw a zero in the bottom of the first is the key to grabbing momentum and taking control of the game early.

Q. What type of hitter is Will Craig, and can his swing one day be successful in the Major Leagues?
TOM WALTER: He will be successful at the next level. He's one of those guys, sometimes you see college hitters go on their front foot and just kind of get into pull mode, so to speak, and that works with the aluminum bat and it works against most college pitchers; not all, certainly not the elite college pitchers.

But Will's got one of those swings where he hits the ball to all fields. He's got unbelievable strike zone awareness and discipline and he hits the fastball and the breaking ball, so he hits all sorts of pitches. Will has handled upper-tier pitching. He'll handle velocity. He'll handle soft.

He's just a complete hitter. He's a guy that's very dangerous in all situations because his batting average, believe it or not, is better with two strikes than it is with less than two strikes. He's a guy that's not afraid to go deep in the count and not afraid to battle you, and can take you out of the ballpark to all fields, so he's a special hitter. I'm just glad he's on our team.

Q. Can he be one of those players that a team could build around for their future, as a clean-up hitter for somebody down the road?
TOM WALTER: Yeah, I think so. Again, you never know how that power is going to translate but as every scout's told me this year, there's just a real shortage of right-handed power in professional baseball, up-and-down professional baseball. You have a couple of guys with the Blue Jays that are pretty good at that.

But when you look at right-handed power hitters in the Minor Leagues and in amateur baseball, there's just a shortage of that right now and that's what he offers. We had Mac Williamson here a few years ago, he was another guy that had that type of power, but to me Will's power is a little easier, even a little easier than Mac's. He hits the ball in some places in our park that we haven't seen before.

Q. How much more difficult does the challenge become Tuesday when you're playing a team that's played 26, 27 of their home games on that field this season?
TOM WALTER: Yeah, I mean, again, it's their home park and they are the home team. We are going to have to go out and play well. That hasn't really entered our mind. They have played half their games on the road, but we're certainly familiar with that ballpark. We've played there before.

Again, that's nothing that's really entered our mind. It's just something that you have to deal with. I'm sure there's a comfort level for them, just having been there so much, but we'll come in there ready to go.

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