Feb. 5, 2013

CBI CAA preview


Inside: With UNC Wilmington's Mat Batts

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com  @RoadToOmaha


Mat Batts (left) is a junior left-hander from Winston-Salem, N.C. He started his career at Western Carolina in 2010, going 3-1 with three starts out of 20 appearances. Batts fanned 27 in 24.1 innings.


After sitting out the 2011 season following his transfer to UNCW, Batts went 6-5 this past season in 16 starts for the Seahawks. He tied for the lead with 90 strikeouts in the Colonial Athletic Association and was second in the league with a 3.04 ERA. Batts walked just 20 in 100.2 innings. He registered a pair of complete games, including going the distance in a 3-2 victory over Delaware in the CAA Tournament. Batts was Third Team All-CAA as well as a member of the CAA All-Tournament Team.


Batts was selected to the 2013 Preseason All-CAA Team.


1. How difficult was it to sit out the 2011 season after transferring from Western Carolina?
It was extremely difficult having to sit out that season. It was the first spring since before Little League that I wasn't able to play. But, I think I really benefited from being able to be around some of the older pitchers that year and to see how they went about their business. It really allowed me to look at the game from a different angle.
2. Were you surprised you were able to go seven innings in each of your first three starts this past season for the Seahawks?
I wouldn't say surprised. Our coaches have always done a really good job of steadily building up our pitchers in the early spring so that we are ready to go come opening day. I think we were limited to 85 or so pitches for the first couple of weeks, and usually that is enough to get a solid start out of.
3. You had a pair of complete games in 2012. Do you have the mentality that when you take the mound, you want to finish what you start?
Absolutely. I think every guy that takes the ball as a starter wants to go deep into games and finish as many as possible. Our defense was so strong last year that I was able to approach every hitter with the goal of inducing contact and letting our defense go to work. That really helps keep your pitch count down over the course of a game.
4. You had 90 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 100.2 innings a season ago. What is the key for you keeping your walk total low?
Our pitching staff has always stressed first-pitch strikes and getting ahead of hitters. If you are able to do that more times than not, the strikeouts will come; but more importantly, the walks will be kept to a minimum.
5. What do the Seahawks have to do in 2013 to repeat as CAA champs and return to the NCAA Tournament?
We have always had a strong offense and I don't expect that to change this season. But I think our real strength this year will be our pitching staff. We have really gained some depth this year and I think all of the returning guys have improved from where they were last year. If we pitch to our ability throughout the course of the season, I don't see any reason why we can't repeat and even improve upon what we did last year.

(photos courtesy of UNCW Media Relations Office)