In just a few short weeks, the 2010 University of Dayton baseball team will open the season on the road in North Carolina.
DaytonFlyers.com had a chance to sit down with Head Coach Tony Vittorio and he gave his outlook on the upcoming season and his thoughts on defending the Atlantic 10 regular season title.
DaytonFlyers.com: Last season you had a program-record 38 wins. There are a few changes in your pitching rotation and at a few key positions, but overall it’s a very strong team heading into 2010. How do you feel about this year?
Coach Vittorio: Without a doubt, we are very proud of our team's accomplishments last year. We can always say that we are the 2009 Atlantic 10 Baseball Champions. Nobody can take that away from the members of our 2009 baseball team. I am really happy for our seniors from last year's team. They were an integral part of starting a new beginning. At the present time, that was last year. We are now preparing for the 2010 baseball season which we are excited about.
DF.Com: Where do you see this team in comparison to last year? Do you see them continuing this tradition of success?
Vittorio: It is very hard to predict what young people are going to do in this day and age. I do not spend too much time on that. I can say that we have enough offense back from last year's team and enough experience within our pitching staff to be optimistic about this year's team. Now it is up to our daily preparation as to whether we perform at a high level.
DF.Com: Let’s talk a little bit about your non-conference schedule. Last year you played Creighton, Notre Dame and Gonzaga in your own tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. That was a very good test early in the season. This season you open up against Army on Feb. 19 and Wake Forest on Feb. 20 and 21 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Talk a about your non-conference slate.
Vittorio: Our non-conference schedule is always geared towards two things. One is to gain individual and team confidence going into the conference season. The other is to play against programs that we could see in regional play. We are excited about this year's schedule because I think it is set up for exactly these two things. Our non-conference schedule should prepare us for the conference season.
DF.Com: The Atlantic 10 Tournament was strong last year and the Conference probably could have had more than one bid into the NCAA. Can you talk a little about the strength of the A-10 this year?
Vittorio: Over the course of the 10 years that I have been involved with the Atlantic 10 Conference, it has become a very good and competitive baseball conference. There are outstanding coaches that run quality programs within our conference. The league is the strongest that it has ever been from top to bottom. I personally feel that the NCAA needs to pay more attention to our conference because there were two, if not three, teams that were good enough to be in regional play last year.
DF.Com: Switching gears a little. Your players had a lot of individual accolades last year. For example, Cameron Hobson was named a freshman All-American and catcher Scott Dunwoody was on the Johnny Bench Award watch list last season. How do you view this team, do you feel like every year you progressively get better?
Vittorio: Whenever you win a championship there are higher expectations. With higher expectations there are more responsibilities. Some may say that there is a target on your back, but this is not how we look at it. We look at it as an outstanding opportunity to build upon what last year's team accomplished. We look at it as an outstanding opportunity to carry on tradition. We want to continue to get quality student-athletes and prepare them to be the best that they can possibly be in the classroom, in the community and obviously on the baseball field. We want to help them make their dreams become reality.
DF.Com: One last question coach. How tight-knit is this group? Working towards a championship last year, and defending that championship together has to have a major impact on team chemistry. What are your thoughts?
Vittorio: Our team chemistry is outstanding. This is because, overall, we have enough of the right people involved. We have great leadership from players like Cole Tyrell and Jimmy Roesinger. It has carried over from the leadership from last year. Scott Dunwoody was not just one of the best players that I have ever coached, but he was also one of the best people that I have ever coached. You can put Quinn Haselhorst in that same category. Our camaraderie and cohesiveness of our team is probably our strongest attributes. I am very proud of our players about how they go about their business and how they lead in the classroom, in the community, and on the baseball field.
DF.Com: Thanks Coach.
The Flyers travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. and open the season on Friday, Feb. 19 against the Army Black Knights. Dayton will also play Wake Forest on Saturday and Sunday of that weekend. The voice of Flyer baseball, Mike Ivcic, will call the games live on 1660 Information Radio and www.DaytonFlyers.com.