Freshman catcher Joe
Caparis is having a big week, getting a walk-off single to lift the Waves over
Gonzaga in Sunday's finale to win the series, and then hitting his first career
home run against CSUN on Tuesday. He speaks about the nerves coming in as a
freshman, as well becoming comfortable with his teammates:
Q: The Waves just came off of a big series win against Gonzaga and another big win against CSUN. How do you feel these past two wins have been for the confidence of the team?
A: I think that going into the rest of our conference series, having one of those Tuesday games where we can explode on offense and show what we can do is huge for our confidence. We know that we can hit like that all the time, so it was nice to actually do it.
Q: You played a huge part in the win in the last game of the series against Gonzaga, getting the walk-off single to win the game. What did it feel like getting that game-winning hit?
A: I wanted to hit the ball hard. I knew that the guys behind me in the rest of the lineup would get it done, so I wasn't worried that we weren't going to do it. It honestly was really surprising that it was me to do it, knowing that I had been struggling that game at the plate. It was a really awesome feeling to get the win for the team.
Q: What have the nerves been like as a freshman coming in and playing as much as you have?
A: The first six or seven games that I played, my nerves were off the charts. Everything was all over the place. The pace of the game was so much faster than in high school. I couldn't keep up with everything going on in the game. But the past week and a half, two weeks or so, it has been starting to fall in place, both offensively and behind the plate. I think that getting the opportunity to get in the game and really show what you can do is really nice, because you never know how many games you are going to get to play.
Q: You mentioned that the nerves were off the charts. How have you been able to settle down and really get into a rhythm?
A: Knowing that I have already failed. I didn't do well at all for a couple games, and I heard about it from the coaches. I know that I am in there for a reason, and I wasn't going to lose this opportunity to go out and play the game I love, and play as well as I can.
Q: Along that point, did you expect to come in as a freshman and start the majority of games behind the plate? How have you become so comfortable back there?
A: Coming in as a freshman, I knew about Aaron (Barnett) and Austin (Bernard) and that they were both really experienced, and both coming off of great seasons last year. I just wanted to come in and compete. I didn't know what was going to happen, and I didn't expect what has happened. I kind of had it in the back of my head that they were going to get the majority of the playing time, so I wanted to use this year as a learning year and learn as much as I could from those guys, and be ready for when my opportunity did arise.
Q: Being a catcher, you have the unique perspective of working with both the position players and the pitchers, including the coaches. How does that help you know what is going on in the minds of the players and coaches when they make decisions?
A: When it comes to the pitchers, I think that it is extremely important to know each one of them personally. Knowing who they are, how they work and how they handle their struggles. A lot of it is also how I can help them through those struggles, whether it is keeping their eyes focused on the task at hand, or getting them through a tough inning. With the position players, we know that we are all playing a part behind our pitcher, and need to make plays behind them and for them, so we can give ourselves a chance to score some runs.
Q: How has the transition been from high school to college, both athletically, and academically?
A: It has been tough going from the academics in high school to the academics in college. Especially the time commitment. The average day in college is a lot more hectic, especially being a student-athlete. Overall you really need to be efficient to get the things done that you need to every day.
Q: What have you been able to learn from the upperclassmen so far this season? Both about baseball and about college life in general?
A: I have learned to work hard and get everything done, but also, more importantly, to enjoy the time here. We are out there with the guys more than with our own families during the year, so it is extremely important to become comfortable with each other and understand that we are all in this as a team.