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Rising Star

In 2009, freshman first baseman Dave Ciocchi produced one of the best rookie seasons in the program's 53-year history. Recruited as an outfielder, the 5-foot-10 slugger was thrust into the starting role at first base just before the season began. With Ciocchi firmly entrenched in the starting lineup, the Bearcats embarked on a record-breaking season that featured a first-ever America East title, inaugural NCAA berth and the program's first NCAA victory. He hit a team-best .381 and drove in 41 runs in 41 starts. Ciocchi was named America East Rookie of the Year and a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. He took time to answer questions about his background, his and the team's remarkable 2009 season and his goals as the 2010 season approaches.

Q: Looking back to last year's historic championship season ... what do you attribute the team's success to?

A: I feel that the team's chemistry and motivation to win the conference was what brought us success. We knew we should be the ones representing the America East Conference and we proved it.

Q: What were some of your most favorite or memorable moments of the
2009 season?

A: As far as memories go, I enjoyed the whole season. It was a lot of fun competing all year and then getting rewarded with a trip to an NCAA regional.

Q: You jumped into the lineup at first base and played a key role in the team's success. What were your expectations heading into your freshman season and how did that mindset change as you became an everyday starter and ultimately an all-star?

A: I expected to use my freshman season as a building year. I wanted to make the adjustment to college baseball as quick as possible. Once I got comfortable and became a starter, I became motivated to do the best I can and help the team out in any way possible.

Q: You were recruited as an outfielder. Had you ever played first base before and how did the transition come about? How difficult was it?

A: I never really played first base at all. I looked at it as a new opportunity to improve myself as a player. At first it was a challenge, but after constant repetition I was able to settle in and find that comfort zone.

Q: You produced perhaps the best freshman season by any Bearcat in program history. What challenges did you personally face in the transition from high school to Division I level baseball and what do you attribute your success to?

A: The transition from high school baseball to college baseball isn't the easiest thing to do. Whenever I would struggle in a certain area in the beginning, I made sure I worked to the best of my ability to improve before the season started. I think my success came from the motivation to do well and the support of my coaches and teammates.

Q: What do you most like about the sport of baseball?

A: I would have to say hitting. It's always been the thing I enjoy doing the most.

Q: What are your goals - both personally and for the team - as you enter the 2010 season? What do you think are the team's strengths?

A: I would love to get back to another regional. That's definitely my main goal and it's definitely a team goal. We know we are capable of repeating what we did last year and possibly even more. We have a lot of starters returning so experience is a team strength. We can use this to our advantage to accomplish our goals.

Q: Off the field, what are some of your interests or other favorite sports to play or watch?

A: I like to play basketball. My favorite sport to watch is football.

Q: At what age did you first start playing baseball - and what are some of your first memories of the sport as a kid?

A: I started playing baseball when I was 5. My greatest memory is hitting my first home run when I was 11.

Q: Who are your role models?

A: My parents. They have always supported me with anything I do.

Q: Tell us something people wouldn't necessarily know about life as a college baseball player.

A: Being just a college athlete in general is a tremendous commitment. The amount of time put in can be physically and mentally draining.

Q: You were 6-for-14 (.429) with eight RBI in the three NCAA tournament games ... and the last game against East Carolina you delivered two hits and five RBI with two strikes. What was that atmosphere like, how nervous were you and how do you alter your hitting approach with two strikes.

A: East Carolina was the greatest baseball experience I've ever had. The atmosphere was definitely different from what we were used to. As far as nerves go, I was able to get them out of the way after seeing the first pitch of my first at bat there. When I get two strikes on me I expand the zone and swing at anything close.

Q: You seemed so confident at the plate in the late season ... how do you view the "art" of hitting and what is your approach when you come to the plate?

A: I just react. I try not to think about a lot when I hit because it only becomes a distraction. I have the mindset to just hit the ball hard somewhere.

Q: What is your favorite stadium you've played in in your career?

A: I once played at Shea Stadium. That's my favorite place I've ever played.

Q: What is your favorite part of road trips (besides the games)?

A: Being with the guys on the road is a lot of fun. The bus rides don't seem as long when you have your team with you.

Q: Did you come across any former teammates or friends who play for other schools BU played this past season?

A: I have a friend who plays for Albany and I know of a couple of players who played on opposing teams throughout the season.

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