Q&A With Husky Shortstop Brent Lillibridge
March 15, 2005
Junior shortstop Brent Lillibridge, a two-time All-Pac-10 first-teamer, has been a big part of the Husky baseball team's recent upswing. After getting off to a 4-7 start, Washington came home to Husky Ballpark and won seven straight games to improve to 11-7 on the season. After some time off for final exams, the Diamond Dawgs get back on the field this weekend in a three-game series at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
Lillibridge, who hit four home runs in three games last week, was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week today.
Monday, Lillibridge sat down with gohuskies.com and talked about the team's recent success, the time off, playing with his younger brother (freshman infielder Kiel) and also about the latest hot topic on the Seattle sports scene -- the Husky basketball team. Here's what he had to say:
gohuskies.com: What has made the difference in the team turning things around?
Brent Lillibridge: The big difference was obviously our offense. You watch major leaguers or college guys, you see that you just have to swing the bat. It started to come together, but we were just in the wrong type of ballpark. Texas A&M had a pretty big stadium. We hit a lot of balls hard that got caught. But coming home, we had great weather and the balls started flying out. We just had to keep on swinging and not get frustrated. That kind of translated into our defense. Pitching has been the backbone. The defense has made come big plays. It kind of came together. The old saying goes that hitting is contagious. It's a weird thing with hitting. Once someone gets it started, it just keeps going.
gohuskies.com: Were you happy for the break [the Huskies had eight days between the Pacific game on March 10 and the Cal Poly game this Friday], or would you have rather kept playing?
BL: I wish we were playing. It's a little frustrating. In my case, I was seeing the ball great. I know six or seven other guys were too. It's hard because we were rolling. In baseball, you want to take the hot streaks and keep on going with it. We also know there's no reason we can't get it started again on the road this weekend. We know the kind of ball we have to play to win: play good defense, get on base, work the counts, and see good pitches. We learned a lot this past week with the success we had.
gohuskies.com: Has the team's attitude changed any since the team started to win more?
BL: We've had a lot more confidence, obviously. In the last game against Pacific, they went ahead by four runs early in the game. There was a little bit of pressure that we all felt. Then we just said to ourselves that it's a great day to hit. We've been hitting great. There's no reason we can't score 15 runs today. We just needed to stick to the plan and good things would happen.
gohuskies.com: Have you ever seen a Husky team as hot as you guys were during that homestand?
BL: I don't think so. That's definitely the best swinging I've seen in my three years here. We have some great hitters. We always knew that and it was nice to see every single guy feeling good. It was a big stat-booster for the whole team, adding some home runs. Even the younger guys that came in were hitting the ball out of the park. It's a good feeling.
gohuskies.com: Both you and your younger brother Kiel hit a home run in a game last week. It just happened to be your father's birthday as well. What did your dad have to say about that?
BL: He pretty much just said `thank you.' It's something for him to talk about for a while. I was glad that we played well that game. I got my home run and I hoped that my brother would get to play. The best way for that to happen is to blow a team out. He got in there and had a couple of good at bats. He's a great hitter, he got a pitch and it was great to see him hit it out. It might never happen again, or it might happen a lot the rest of the year. My dad was pretty excited about it.
gohuskies.com: How are you enjoying having your brother on the team with you?
BL: It's good, though we've played a lot of baseball together in the past. We both learn a lot. He's a real smart kid and he tells me what I'm doing with my swing. He's seen it for almost 20 years. He knows exactly what I'm doing wrong most of the time. He can tell me what's up and back up what Coach [Joe] Ross tells me. He helps me to say level. For him, he's having to sit on the bench like I did at the start of my freshman year. You want to play and feel like you should be, but there's no spot for him right now. So, I'm helping him with that, letting him know that his time will come.
gohuskies.com: What do you have to say about the Husky basketball team as they head into the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed?
BL: That's awesome. We were practicing when I heard it, it was just a great compliment for that team. This team has just built and built and that's a big credit to Coach Romar and some great leadership from those players. For us to get so good at basketball is great. We've been really good at baseball and most of the time, at football, so it's great to have another great team here.