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Notre Dame Baseball

Shawn Stiffler & Zack Prajzner Notebook | Post-Wake Forest

May 26, 2023

Notre Dame baseball coach Shawn Stiffler and Zack Prajzner spoke following the loss to No. 1 Wake Forest on Friday evening.

On the loss: 
"Congratulations to Wake Forest. Unbelievable year by them as it continues - 47-9. To do what they did through this league is really quite remarkable. They showed a lot of resiliency tonight. Very proud of the way we competed. Those guys - you almost have to play a perfect game against them and we just weren’t able to do that. We kind of lost the groove there in the 5th inning when we had a two-run lead. They were able to put some balls in play and hit in some clunky spots. We did a good job getting out there, but very proud of the way we competed and swung the bats.” 

On Wake Forest head coach Tom Walters saying he wanted to see Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament and if he feels the Irish should be in the Field of 64: 
“You go 15-15 in this league - if you’re not one of the top 64 in the country and do that, then I don’t know what else it could make you. Certainly, feel like we’ve done a good job from that standpoint. I think our resume was good enough at the end of the regular season. 

“I think conference tournaments should never hurt you. They should only help you. I don’t think you should get knocked by what you did in your conference tournament. They should only be designed to help you, not hurt you.

“That’s my opinion, but I’m not on the committee. We left it in their hands a little bit and we’ll see what they have to say. I know it’s my first year in the league, but my understanding, I’ve been told it’s never been deeper, it’s never been better and it’s as good as this league has been in the last 15 years. If that’s the case, let’s go.” 

On Wake Forest pitcher Derek Crum took momentum in the 5th:
”No. They are so loaded in their bullpen. You know that you’re going to be against the ropes and you might get some space. You got to kind of bob and weave a little bit. They can match up - probably the best of anyone in the country. 

“They have the guys who can get them out of those jams and they can matchup from in those scenarios. I never felt the wind was out of our sails. I thought we competed. We got an opportunity to turn that double play and didn’t quite make that and that run proved to be huge. Wilken hit that one in the 8th that proved to be huge too. I felt we competed the whole way through.” 

On what he learned about Notre Dame in his first year as head coach:
”In my opinion, it's the great institution in the country. These are the greatest young men you can get to work with. I’m extremely humbled and privileged to be here. That’s all I have to say about it.”

On what he took from VCU to Notre Dame: 
”It’s about the players. It’s always about the players. You really have to continue to press as you build your culture. We will look at this season - how everything kind of matters. The season is almost like a baseball game. Everyone thinks you lose a game in the 9th. You don’t lose in a season in the 9th. You have opportunities to build momentum. You just have to stay patient, keep at it. 

“It goes back to the players. I don’t know if I’ve been more proud of a group than I am of this group. They’re impressive for sure.” 

On what the future of Notre Dame baseball:
”It’s the standard his group (Zack Prajzner) has set. His group picked the program up from the cellar a few years back in 2019. The standard they have set, the example they have set - that’s the thing I’m the most excited about. People understand we are a baseball program that is moving forward and continuing to move forward. You’re not always going to finish in Omaha, but I think everybody will look up and say this program is certainly re-established.” 

On his thoughts on the ACC:
”Every game - the margin is so small. You look at tonight’s game and the difference in that game was probably 12 pitches. The season is so slight in who gets in and who doesn’t - and who gets into the ACC Tournament and who gets into the NCAA. It’s an unbelievable league. 

“You learn things. I learned working at Notre Dame how ready we need to be game on and I learned from coming out of the gym what we need to do and things like that. I hope we’ll improve as we go.

“The league is aggressive. It’s extremely deep. I still think one of the best offensive teams was Pitt when I sit there and think about who was really tough to get out. You think about how Louisville isn’t here. 

“There was a four-week stretch where we played a top 8 team four weeks in row. It’s tough to catch your breath. It’s a lot of fun and makes it worth it. To do what Wake did is unbelievable.” 

Zack Prajzner
On team chemistry after coaching change:

”We came a long way in the last couple years. We really wanted to stay and make sure that legacy remained in the program. Coach Stiffler did a phenomenal job coming into a team that went to Omaha and the coach left. I think he did an awesome job. He was very successful this year. 

“The chemistry was always amazing. It was never an issue or a doubt at all. Coach Stiffler deserves credit.” 

On if this is a team that could do some damage in the NCAA Tournament:
” Absolutely. I refused to believe this is the last game we play here. I know that nobody wants us in a regional. I really believe that 15-15 is good enough to get in the tournament. It’s been that way for years and years. I firmly believe we should be in it. We’re ready to go wherever to play whoever. We believe we can do some damage.” 

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