Mike Cavasinni always had the green light to steal a base during his time at North Mecklenburg High, where he graduated in 2005.
Cavasinni's high school coach, Mark King, said he gave him free reign because he was a smart base runner, but most importantly because of his speed.
"Mike was the fastest athlete I've ever coached in my entire life," said King, who's still the head coach for the Vikings.
"Everyone in the ballpark knew he was going to run. They just couldn't do anything about it."
And King's trust paid off, as Cavasinni single-handedly forced defenses to adjust to him. He went on to break the state high-school record in career stolen bases, which he still holds with 109.
Cavasinni said he treasures that record and the memories of the good times he had playing for North Meck.
"That was when baseball was a lot of fun," said Cavasinni. "All my close friends played baseball."
Although Cavasinni and his friends didn't get the opportunity to play for a state championship, the outfielder from Huntersville got the opportunity to play for a championship at the college level.
Cavasinni said the transition to playing college ball at North Carolina was significant, especially in pitching.
"You get there and every pitch you face is a good pitch," he said. "There's a lot more of adjusting at the plate than in high school."
But Cavasinni, with the help of UNC's Mike Fox and his coaching staff, thrived that first year in Chapel Hill, hitting a career-best .317 and earning a starting role on the team.
"To come in at the right place, right time and earn my way to playing every day was just a dream come true," he said.
His first year as a Tar Heel, the team made it to the College World Series finals, where they lost in a three-game series to Oregon State.
"It was probably the most nervous, but also excited, I've ever been - adrenaline was pumping, it was just surreal," said Cavasinni.
But the highs of that first season didn't last long. Cavasinni had to endure a few potentially career-ending injuries the next two years.
He suffered an injury to his left eye from getting hit in the face by a foul ball, which nearly blinded him. That came only months after breaking his collar-bone in a summer-league game.
These injuries forced Cavasinni to miss much of his sophomore season.
But bad luck didn't end there. Cavasinni suffered a torn ACL in his left knee that forced him to redshirt the 2008 season.
He had to endure sitting on the bench and rehabbing to get back to where he could again contribute for Carolina.
Cavasinni said it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do, but he was able to go through it because of his Tar Heel family.
"They were always supporting me, regardless of how hard and impossible it seemed to me," he said.
King, who said he still texts with Cavasinni, said he knows how hard it was for Cavasinni to watch from the dugout.
"He was always bouncing off walls - always needed to do something," he said. "He only knows one speed - full speed."
Cavasinni struggled to get back to the way he played his freshman year. He said he was more than 20 pounds above his baseball weight when he returned to the diamond last year.
"I couldn't rely too much on my speed - on my way to play baseball," he said.
But after putting in a lot of work, Cavasinni had a consistent season last year, batting .272 and adding a career-high 24 RBIs.
After working hard in the offseason, Cavasinni was more confident about his knee and regained his speed.
This season, the senior has been one of the leaders for the Tar Heels, who are 36-20 and were on the bubble to make the NCAA tournament.
Cavasinni has hit .277 this season and has the highest stolen-base percentage on his team - having 14 steals in 17 attempts. His number of steals is second only to the 16 he had his freshman year.
Cavasinni, who graduated with a degree in exercise and sports science May 9, hopes to land a job with a sports protective gear company.
Cavasinni knows his days of playing the sport he loves are coming to an end, but he also knows that he played baseball with his all.
"I'm not the best player, but every time I play, I give as much as I can - I play as hard as I can."
King considers Cavasinni as one of the best players he's ever coached.
"He was something special," he said. "I didn't coach him, I just stayed out of his way."