Ohio State outfielder Steve Caravati recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Caravati is one of the top players in the country and is a returning senior for the Buckeyes. After being chosen as the Big Ten Player of the Year following the 2004 season, the Ohio native was recently named a 2005 Preseason First Team All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
The Buckeyes have started the season just 2-3 but get a chance to get things back on track this weekend in Jacksonville, FL. Caravati has battled injuries early this year and has played in just one game. The senior was one for three with a couple of runs and a walk in that contest.
STEVE CARAVATI, OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: At Dover High School in Ohio, you set the school record for career homeruns and RBIs. After ending your career at Dover, what other colleges did you consider, and why did you ultimately choose Ohio State?
Caravati: "I was not highly recruited out of high school. I had some Division-II colleges after me but very few Division-I schools. I chose Ohio State because of the atmosphere and tradition."
SCS.com: This will be your fifth year on campus in Columbus. You hit for a .346 average in 2001, your freshman season, and capped it off by being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. How much pressure did you feel coming in and playing immediately, and how were you able to have so much success right off the bat?
Caravati: "I did not feel much pressure at all from my teammates because I was only a freshman, but I demanded a lot out of myself. After having success at every level I played at previously, I felt I could succeed at the college level as well right away. I had such confidence in myself to do well, and once I did, my teammates had it in me as well. That is what made it easier for me."
SCS.com: After redshirting in 2002, you hit the field again in 2003 and have since become one of the Big Ten's best players. You were named Third Team All-Big Ten following your sophomore campaign and were then honored as the Big Ten Player of the Year following last season. How have you been able to consistently improve each season, and how honored were you to be named the conference's best baseball player?
Caravati: "Because I am another year older, it makes it that much easier because of experience. I knew I could go out and have the season I did last year if I was healthy, and I was. Every year, I train my body that much harder to succeed everyday, not only physically, but mentally as well. Being named Big Ten Player of the Year was a great individual accomplishment, but my ultimate goal of reaching the College World Series was not reached. Individual accomplishments, although terrific for the person, are not as important as the team's overall goals. I would gladly have traded in being named Big Ten Player of the Year to have a chance to get to Omaha."
SCS.com: The recognition you received has not been limited to that from the conference. National publications have recognized your excellence as well. The National College Baseball Writers Association named you a Third Team All-American following last season, and that same group has chosen you as a 2005 Preseason First Team All-American. You were also recently named to the 2005 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, a list of 58 players in the entire country nominated for the national player of the year award. What does this national exposure mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Caravati: "Obviously it is a great honor to be named not only locally but nationally as well. This program means the world to me. I respect every player, coach, fan, and alumni who has worn the scarlet and gray. I only hope to wear the uniform to the upmost of my abilities. Ohio State is such a great university, and I am glad everyday to be a part of such a terrific program as this."
SCS.com: Back in November, your teammates voted you and fellow senior outfielder Mike Rabin as co-captains for the 2005 Buckeyes. Obviously this shows that not only are you a good player, but you are also well respected by your fellow players. How honored were you to be chosen as a co-captain by your teammates, and what special duties or roles does that position require?
Caravati: "It is a tremandous honor to be named captain by my teammates. This honor means more to me than anything because it shows that the team trusts me in leading them both on the field and off the field. I have duties such as making sure everyone is on time for practice, leading by example on the field, and doing certain community functions as well."
SCS.com: You led OSU to a 36-25 record overall and a second-place finish in the Big Ten last season. You and the Buckeyes advanced to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game but came up short against Minnesota. As a team on the bubble, you were then left out of the NCAA Tournament, marking only the second time in the previous six years OSU had not advanced to Regional play. After such a great season, how disappointing was it to lose the conference tournament title game and then be left just on the outside of the NCAA Tournament?
Caravati: "Well obviously the NCAA favors southern schools more than northern schools, which I believe is extremely biased. However, we did not get the job done on the field, which is our fault as a team. To leave our tournament (hopes) in the hands of a committee is the last thing we wanted to do, but we did and it did not work out as we wanted it to."
SCS.com: Though last season ended on a sour note, things look good for the team this year. Six starting position players return, as do nine pitchers. A good group of newcomers also join the squad. How will the bad ending to last season motivate you this spring, and what are the expectations for the Buckeyes in 2005?
Caravati: "Well, we all have a sour taste in our mouth after last season, and this year's squad is on a mission. If everyone plays to their capabilities and we stay focused mentally about each game and realize that the season is not just one at-bat or pitch, then we will be fine. Several publications do not figure us to be in the race for the Big Ten title at the end, but that is fine with us. The key thing to remember is that it is just preseason rankings and the one at the end matters the most."
SCS.com: Playing at Ohio State allows you to visit some great ballparks around the country, both in and out of the Big Ten. Last season, for example, you made trips to several southern states, including Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida. Then there are also the Big Ten games on the schedule that have you traveling to places like Purdue, Michigan State, and Minnesota. Where is your favorite place to travel, and what is the atmosphere like at the opposing teams' parks?
Caravati: "My favorite place to travel is Minnesota because we stay right beside the Mall of America. Usually where we stay there is never anything around to do, so that keeps us from being bored. Also, the conference title is usually on the line when we play each other. My worst place to play is anywhere in Florida. Seems like every year I cannot hit in that state. Hopefully I can change that this year."
SCS.com: When Ohio State plays at home, they get to host the opponent in the beautiful confines of Bill Davis Stadium, one of the nicest facilities in the Big Ten. Recent expansion has taken capacity to nearly 4,500. Once you take the field, how much difference does it make where you are playing? What is the biggest advantage to playing at home, and as a player, do you actually hear or pay attention to the crowd while you are on the field?
Caravati: "Playing at home gives us a distinct advantage because that is where we practice and where we are used to the atmosphere. But perhaps the biggest advantage is being able to stay at our apartments and not in a hotel. It allows us to get proper rest and food. I love listening to the crowd be loud and support us. We have some of the greatest fans, and when there is a clutch situation and the crowd is fired up, I want to be in the batter's box so I can make them be louder even more. It is a tremendous feeling to have that much support around you."
SCS.com: Four of your teammates from a year ago were taken in the 2004 Major League Draft last spring, two of them going in the top thirteen rounds. Have you had a chance to talk with any of those guys (or any other current pro player), and if so, what advice have they given you regarding your current college career and possible future in pro baseball?
Caravati: "They just said to keep doing what I am doing. I think it was a shock to almost everyone last year when I was not drafted. It made me think a little bit more about my life possibly without playing baseball. I know to go out there and give 100%, and everything else will take care of itself. If it is meant to be, it will. If not, then there was nothing I didn't do."
SCS.com: Your head coach, Bob Todd, has been on campus for seventeen seasons, six of those resulting in regular season Big Ten championships for Ohio State. Ten of those seventeen years have seen OSU make the NCAA Tournament, and Coach Todd is now the winningest coach in the 121-year history of Buckeye baseball. Much of the team's success has come since the late 1990's as Ohio State has truly become a power in the Big Ten. What makes Coach Todd such a great coach, and how has he been able to get some of the top baseball talent to attend Ohio State University?
Caravati: "I think Coach Todd is not only one of the greatest coaches but (one of the greatest) people as well. He demands perfection out of not only his team but his coaching as well. I think he gets recruits to come here because of the tradition Ohio State has to offer, as well as being in the title run every year."
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Caravati: "My favorite memory is winning a regional in Auburn in 2003. Everyone predicted that we would lose, and we go out there and beat two powerhouses in Clemson and Auburn twice. I think winning there was by far the greatest moment in my life."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Caravati: "One person I admire on the field is Derek Jeter. He is a class act and conducts himslf in a very professional manner. Off the field, it is my parents, John and Connie. They have been such an inspiration to me. They are the reason why I am the way I am today. If it was not for them, I would not have had the success I have had. Everyday I want to make them proud of me both on and off the field. They are my life and my inspiration."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Caravati: "I am really into lifting weights and listening to music. I am a huge fan of country music as well as classic rock."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give him?
Caravati: "I would advise them to have fun. When you do not have fun, at any level, it is hard to do well. Remember that baseball is just a game, and if you go out and give 100% effort, then that is all you can ask of yourslef. If you can mix having fun with perfection, then you will be successful at anything you do!"
SCS.com would again like to thank Ohio State's Steve Caravati for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Buckeyes the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
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