Arizona previews Starkville Super Regional

Jay Johnson, Arizona head coach

Opening Statement…
“Very excited to be here obviously, last weekend was a great weekend for Arizona baseball. We couldn’t be more excited to be in this
atmosphere and in a community that care so much about college baseball. These players deserve to be playing right now and we can’t
wait to get it kicked off tomorrow night.”

On Zach Gibbons’ turn around…
“He’s got great hand eye coordination, for not a very big guy he creates a lot of bad speed. The biggest adjustment was to tap into his
lower half so maybe that helped a little bit. He’s got great quick twitch muscles. With his great hand eye, he can use the whole field
and he can hurt you on the inner half of the field as well. He has great bat speed, he’s just a really complete hitter. His willingness to
be coached and make some adjustments got us off to a good start. He had some immediate success in the fall which I think helped out
and he’s kind of been the guy that’s made our team go.”

On how Nathan Bannister succeeds a pitcher…
“That is a great story since I’ve met him, he came into my office shortly after I was hired in June and I didn’t know if I was looking at
Pac-12 pitcher or a 40-year-old with three kids. He needed to do some things with his body and he lost a bunch of weight, 37 pounds
to be exact, so his conditioning has gone to another level. That has helped him repeat his delivery and has helped him maintain his
stuff and the pitch ability is as good as it gets. From my opinion he is the National Pitcher of the Year and if he’s not nobody has meant
more to the success of their team than he has. I credit conditioning level, we did some unique things to get him to be where he could
do that and I would have gotten pummeled if I hadn’t started him.”

On what Mississippi State has done well as a program…
“This is a juggernaut and I’ve known coach (John) Cohen for many years and coach (Nick) Mingione is a very close friend of mine. They have recruited extremely well. The number of good players and pitchers and the depth is so great and that is the most impressive to me. Those guys have really developed. Players got older, little more seasoned, and they played extremely well. I’m not surprised after the familiarity I have with their program that they have done as well as they have.”

Zach Gibbons // Sr. // OF

On his offensive turn around…
“I give all the credit to the coaches in the fall, they were helping work on my swing and getting lower on my legs. I was
just talking to the seniors and we want to go out with a bang this last year and show the Tucson community what Arizona
baseball is all about.”

On summer ball helping…
“I was able to go out and play and when I was out there. Coach called me and introduced himself and right then I knew it
was going to be a great year. I definitely think the summer had a lot to do with my successes here and I’m happy.”

On his only career home run being in Starkville…
“Even if it is the site of my only career home run I don’t really remember much; it is kind of all a blur. I’m just going to
do my best to get on base for the team and give us as an opportunity to win. I’m just going to stay low and strong in the
middle of the field.”

On what he can remember about playing here before…
“Its definitely different having all the fans and trailers here in the background. It’s different but it will be fun. I heard they
heckle you a little bit, so I am definitely ready for that I think all in all this being our first Super Regional in a while, it will
be fun.”

On all of the travel they have done the past few months…
“It has been good. I give all the credit to our trainers and coaches. Our trainers have been working their butts off making
sure we are doing well. Our coaches are making sure we are getting rest with our meeting at night and going straight to
bed. I definitely think that is the main contributor each day.”

Nathan Bannister // Sr. // RHP

On going forward in the tournament…
“Last weekend was a blast. We got to Monday and it became a win or go home mentality. I think our team did a good job
competing on Monday. We have moved on to this weekend and how we can execute. We are here to show what Arizona
baseball does and we want to do it to the best of our ability.”

On how he is feeling physically…
“I feel great. I’ve gotten a lot of conditioning in, the fitness room at our hotel was really nice and it helped me be ready to
go. I am excited for the opportunity to play against Mississippi State.”

On the Mississippi State line up…
“I didn’t look much into them video wise, but looking at the stat sheet I know we’ve got some high averages and I think
our main thing will be to get lead off guy out. With the lead off guy out you can’t really run the action as much. I think
that is our main point and the most important thing for us to be successful. We are just ready to execute our plan.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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