Q&A With Senior Southpaw Preston Mott
Preston Mott is the truest example of a student-athlete. UC San Diego's fourth-year senior left-hander has registered 18 career wins and a 3.69 earned run average as a unanimous 2018 All-West Region selection, while maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average in pharmacological chemistry. The Clovis product has answered his head coach Eric Newman's starting call 14-plus times in each of his previous three years, including on Opening Day as a sophomore in 2017. "Preston is going to pitch at the top of our rotation again this year," says Newman. "Preston is such a reliable and proven starter. He's proven that he can perform in the big games, and for our team this year, especially early on as we're getting healthy, he's going to be a big piece of just keeping us stable. He's always been such a consistent performer, that we're looking for him to provide that same thing. Provide that consistent leadership at the top that he's given us for the last three years. It's a big luxury to be able to send a guy out there who's won almost 20 games in his career, and knows how to pitch and knows what the league is like and knows what this level of baseball is like, and how to prepare himself, so that will be a big help to our pitching staff." Heading into one final week of preseason preparation for the No. 14 Tritons' opener in Irvine on Feb. 1, Preston was our second Q&A guest.
Q: You've made 43 career starts, pitched in some big games, including two at the NCAA Championship. How much confidence does that experience give you on the mound, knowing you've been there and seen pretty much all of it?
MOTT: All of those games have greatly helped me develop into the pitcher I am today. Each game, whether the results were positive or negative, has provided countless opportunities to learn and become a better pitcher and person. Pitching in those bigger games has really helped me to simplify everything. I just remember that the rubber is still 60 feet six inches away from the plate, and I imagine the other team as just nine guys named Joe.
Q: You've been a part of a CIF championship dogpile in high school, and then a CCAA tournament dogpile and two more at the West Regional as a Triton. Just one more remains. What goes through your mind when you think about ending your career with one last dogpile in Cary?
MOTT: It makes me really excited to think about ending our season on a win, especially with the heartbreaks we've experienced the past two years. It would just be a satisfying conclusion that all of us have worked so hard for throughout this year and the previous ones.
Q: Out of many incredible moments, what has been one that has stood out to you the most from these back-to-back runs?
MOTT: The one moment that has stood out the most was when Michael Palos hit the walk-off single to send us back to the College World Series, really capping off an unbelievable West Regional and championship game.
Q: Last year's club produced an incredible 500 runs of offense. You lost a couple of heavyweights off that team. As a veteran leader of the pitching staff, how much of a luxury was that offense a season ago, and do you feel that there is any more pressure on your group to perform at a high level in 2019 to make up for those departures?
MOTT: As a pitcher, the offense shouldn't affect how we attack, since we are always trying to limit the runs that score, but last year was great because no matter what happened on defense/pitching, offensively we knew that we were only a couple of great at-bats away from being back in control of the game. However, seeing what the hitters have done up to this point and how much they have improved throughout the fall and winter, I have confidence in the 2019 offense to continue the tradition of high offensive output.
Q: What have you seen so far out of the new arms that Triton fans can look forward to?
MOTT: We have a lot of great arms on our staff this year, both returning and new. Transfers Luke Mattson and Brandon Weed have shown that they can dominate hitters and battle for us, and I'm excited to see the freshmen Lonnie Morris and Michael Mitchell step up into important roles.
Q: Among an entirely new staff for Coach Newman, you yourself have a brand-new pitching coach in Matt Harvey. How has that adjustment period gone?
MOTT: I think the adjustment to Coach Harvey has gone very well. He has taught us all of the work that has to be done to be great pitchers. He has high standards for us in all that we do, whether it's in the weight room, on the mound, or in the classroom. We have all responded well, and I think the work we have done together will take our pitching staff to the next level.
Q: Having fallen just short of achieving this program's first national title the past two years, what can you say about your team and individual goals for your senior season?
MOTT: Our team goals never change. It is to win the regular-season CCAA title, then win the CCAA tournament, then the West Regional and now a Super Regional, and finally end up dogpiling in Cary the last game of the season. Individually, I want to do all I can to help the team end up succeeding in all of these goals by being the most dominant pitcher in the conference.
Q: You're a pharmacological chemistry major and a two-time Academic All-District honoree. How much do you have left before completing your degree, and what are some of your future plans?
MOTT: I have six more classes left. Three classes this quarter, and three more in the spring. After graduating in June, my plan is to enter into a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company to develop drugs to help cure diseases and ailments.
Q: Is there a professional player or two, a left-handed pitcher or otherwise, who you admire and try to pattern your game after?
MOTT: Growing up, I always loved watching Cliff Lee pitch. He was always so calm on the mound, no matter what the situation was. He would just focus on what he needed to do, and would simply execute his plan.
Q: Between being an outstanding student and the staff ace, do you find time to do anything outside of school and baseball?
MOTT: If I'm not catching up on my sleep, I try to spend some time outside, at the beach, and hanging out with my friends and teammates.
Previous 2019 Triton Baseball Q&A Features
Alex Eliopulos (Jan. 17)
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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