May 15, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - As the Broncos head into their final weekend of West Coast Conference action, Santa Clara sits just half a game behind second place No. 13 Pepperdine. The two teams play this weekend for a trip to the WCC Championship Series (May 23-25), where the winner will face the Toreros of San Diego.
Sophomore Jon Karcich has been atop the Broncos statistics all season long, and currently leads the squad with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs. The shortstop from Serra High School checked in with SantaClaraBroncos.com this week to talk about his remarkable sophomore campaign, his summer in Maryland and Tom Brady.
SantaClaraBroncos.com: How does this season differ from last season for you?
Jon Karcich: I have more confidence this year. I played every single game as a freshman and not many freshmen get to do that. I was fortunate to be in there and learn as I went along. This year I put all that experience together. I've been more mature about everything and slowed the game down and made adjustments right away. Last year I would wait two weeks before I made one adjustment, but this year it only takes me a day or even one at-bat.
SCB: How would you define your role?
JK: Playing shortstop, it's defense first, which, at this point it's not where I want to be lately. But with hitting where I'm at right now, it is a big bonus for my position. But as the infield captain I have to make sure we're all on the same page. If I have a bad at-bat, I can't let it affect me.
SCB: What has been the most memorable moment for you this season?
JK: The team beating Cal on a walk-off was really exciting. It was a great game. Also, beating Stanford. That was an intense game. Winning is fun and what we've been doing as of late with our streaks and winning a lot of games, that has been memorable.
SCB: Has there been a particular individual moment?
JK: The two home runs against Gonzaga was a nice moment.
SCB: Speaking of home runs, how did it feel after home run No. 11 against Saint Mary's last weekend?
JK: It was the last thing I was thinking of because I was just trying to advance the runner over to third with two outs. I was looking for a pitch I could work with, and the next thing I know I got a pitch and I was trying to go to right field and it got elevated. It was exciting because that was a big home run that put us up a little more. I definitely did not expect to have 11 home runs at this point.
SCB: How big is this upcoming weekend?
JK: As a team, it's huge. We know what we're playing for. This is what we want to play for. The chance to go to the championship series and a potential automatic bid to the playoffs is what you play for. With Pepperdine coming to our place when we're a half game back is huge.
SCB: What's going to be the key?
JK: Playing our game. Playing how we've been playing. Worrying about ourselves and not about them. Sticking to our plans and not getting too carried away with everything going on, and just playing the game and having fun.
SCB: What is it like playing on a team with guys that you've played against either in high school or over summer?
JK: Part of my decision to come here was that I've played with Nate Garcia and Tommy Medica since I was 14 on summer teams and I thought, `they're coming to Santa Clara and they're good guys and good players.' We all joke about which team is better, which high school is better and we just have fun with it.
SCB: After living in California your whole life, how was your summer in Maryland playing with the Bethesda Big Train?
JK: Different. The people were way friendlier everywhere you went. The people really care for baseball there. They care for what you do and they will stand and clap for you. The people here don't embrace baseball like they do back East. It's just a different atmosphere.
SCB: While you were there, what did you do with your time off?
JK: We played night games, so we would have camps sometimes in the mornings. But it was a lot of playing. We did have two days off where we floating down to the Potomac River on tubes. There was a lot of lying by the pool.
SCB: Do you have any pregame rituals?
JK: Since conference games started, I have been hitting little beans before the game with David Abraham. We hit them with a broomstick handle; it's called a thunderstick handle. It helps with focus and hand-eye coordination. We also have handshakes that we do before the game out in right field, but nothing too weird or crazy.
SCB: Rumor has it that they play "Sweet Caroline" because you requested it. What's the story behind that?
JK: It seemed like every park we went to during the summer played it. I like that song. This summer they'd play it after the seventh inning stretch and everyone would sing it. That's where I first got it in my head.
SCB: What do you do to unwind after games or class?
JK: I play video games a lot. I played HALO a lot. The guys would joke that there would be a HALO party at my house. But now I've moved on to Call of Duty. My roommate Ryan [Conan] plays it more than I do though. That's the main thing I do to relax.
SCB: As a communications major, is there a class here you have enjoyed most?
JK: I like taking Interpersonal Communications right now. We have to do community service for the class. You have to pick a certain event to go to weekly and what I'm doing is teaching Spanish immigrants how to speak English for when they take their citizenship test. I do need help on communication skills and it helps me work on that.
SCB: What's your favorite food?
JK: Favorite home cooked meal would be Mom's turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans. But overall, eating out, I would probably say pizza. Hawaiian pizza.
SCB: Favorite movie?
JK: I'm a huge fan of Denzel Washington. Remember the Titans always sticks out there for me.
SCB: How about your favorite time of the year?
JK: Baseball season. [laughs] Spring or summer. The weather is nice. Sunny days to play baseball.
SCB: What is something that most people don't know about you?
JK: I'm more of an introvert. I don't like to go out all the time. My personality is more outgoing. I do funny things. You would think I'd be the guy who always wants to go out but I'm mostly just a homebody.
SCB: What fellow Santa Clara athlete do you admire?
JK: Ryan Conan. We're roommates. It's rare that you see a senior living with a sophomore, but he took me under his wing, critiqued my swing and helped me out with stuff.
SCB: If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
JK: Probably Ted Williams for someone that was dead and Tom Brady for someone alive. Ted Williams because he was the greatest hitter of all time. With his whole approach to the game, it would be great to talk with him and learn from him. Tom Brady went to my high school. He's a great athlete, played baseball as well, a great leader, very focused, knows what he's doing and is a great role model.