6-2-10 WCWS Meet the Press


June 2 2010



Session 1 Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes

Wednesday, June 2

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium

Oklahoma City, Okla.


Opening comment:

“First of all I would like to congratulate the other teams, players and coaches.  This is the place you want to be at this time of the year.  Most of the time, it confirms that you have had a pretty good year to this point.  I’m very impressed with the parity around the country and there are some very tough challenges here.  We’re looking forward to, hopefully, a great week of competition instead of a couple of days.”

On playing Tennessee again in the WCWS:

“They’re probably a little better-tested than they were back then.  I think, obviously, Monica (Abbott) was a tremendous pitcher and I think a lot of the eggs were put in the basket that she was going to carry the team.  What I see right now is a very good team that is very well-balanced and has some good ingredients.  It’s going to be a very competitive game.”

On the shift of power hitting in collegiate softball:

“The game has progressed so much over the years.  I remember 25 years ago when the composite bat wasn’t around and I really believe that the composite bat has changed our game.  You don’t have to look any further than baseball and what they’ve decided to do.  What I see down the road is maybe a shift from the composite bat back to the aluminum bat.  I think the power numbers would go down quite readily.”


On being an underdog at the WCWS:

“The sophomores and the juniors don’t know what it’s like to win a game at the World Series.  They haven’t won one yet.  Sarah (Akamine) and I know what it’s like to win, we want to win.  The sophomores and juniors want to win, the freshmen want to win.  Everyone wants to come here and do our best to win every game we play.  I know everyone has a different mindset because everyone is sick of losing.  We want to come out here and show everyone that even though no one believes we can do it, we can do it as a team.  We just want to prove everyone wrong.”


Opening comment:

“We’ve had great competition through the year to get here and we are very proud to be here with the other teams that are here.  Also, we are very thankful for the hospitality that we have been shown here, from our host, bat girls and everybody involved with the tournament.”

On the parity between the SEC and the Pac-10:

“I agree with (Tennessee co-head coach) Ralph (Weekly).  We have to get a national championship and bring it to the SEC and then we will see if we can say that.  I do know that our conference is working really hard and putting strong teams on the field, and we are having grinding conference matches.”

On the pressure of the World Series:

“I think pressure is what you make it.  It’s self-inflicted.  They need to enjoy the game and have fun.  This is a game they have been playing since they were 7 years old so they might as well just live the dream today.”


On her team’s experience at last year’s WCWS:

“It definitely just gave us more of a fight and a want for us this year because we knew we could do it.  This year, our goal has been to win a national championship.  Last year, of course we wanted to win, but the main goal was just to get to the World Series.  Now, it’s just much more beyond that.  The fight and the grit has just multiplied.  


Opening comment:

“I’d also like to congratulate everybody who got here.  I echo what the other coaches said about how hard it is to get here.  I can tell you after being here in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and not getting back the last couple of years, it’s the greatest place in the world to be this time of year, it’s the greatest event I’ve seen and we’re just happy to be here.  Our kids ready to compete.”

On the SEC catching up to the Pac-10:

“As long as the Pac-10 has all the national championships there still isn’t parity. We are working really hard in the SEC.  We still have to hoist the national championship (trophy) before we can talk about parity.”


Opening comment:

“It’s been an awesome year for us so far.  Just being able to watch the amazing games Saturday and Sunday after our (super regional) games got done, it just lets you sit back and see how amazing this game is and how tough it really is.  Everyone that’s been here has had a similar great season.  I think that people have picked us now, because Michigan and Alabama are gone, to be the one.  And it really doesn’t mean anything to us.  I’m pretty sure that everyone here doesn’t think that they can’t beat us and I think it’s going to be an exciting time.  We’re going take it for what it is and play hard and have fun.”

On if winning a second straight national title would feel different:

“Each year is different.  I think it would be just as special.  We didn’t know what it was like before.  Hopefully every coach that gets to the finals gets to experience that because it’s amazing.  But every year is a new year and it’d be awesome.”


On going from the hunters to the hunted:

“I think that this being my fifth year — I’m kind of old — allows me to really look at the game and just kind of analyze it and see what I see for our team.  I think that if anything this year, I just cherish every single pitch and opportunity that I’ve had to go out and play because I know that it can be taken away from you so shortly.  Thursday, we lost (to Oklahoma in the super regional first game) and it could have been the end of our season.  It’s just finding a way to grit your teeth and just grind it out.  This whole year the biggest thing that I’ve said to myself is that I just have to compete.  And whether we’re the hunted or we’re hunting, bottom line is that if you just go out and play your game you’re going to be just fine.  I’m not stressed about people trying to take us down.”

On whether the heat is going to play a factor:

“It’s mind over matter, at this point.  I mean, yeah it’s obviously hot, but when you’re out there you’re not going ‘Oh my God, it’s hot.”  It’s in your head.  You have to push past that.  It’s just a game, you just have to go play.  Who cares if it’s hot or if there’s thunderstorms.”

– END –


Session 2 Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes

Wednesday, June 2

ASA Hall of Fame Stadium

Oklahoma City, Okla.


Opening comment:

“First of all, just want to say thanks to the NCAA, the Amateur Softball Association and the Oklahoma City All Sports Association.  It’s great to be back.  It’s a great venue, it’s just a really good overall experience for all of our student-athletes to be here.  They’ve worked so hard to get here their whole lives and have seen this on television.  To actually have this come true for not only our seniors, juniors and sophomores, but also our seven freshmen. Thanks to everybody and we look forward to some great competition.”

On returning to the College World Series, which is just 25 minutes from the University of Oklahoma, where he played baseball and was an assistant softball coach:

“It’s a great feeling.  I was thinking that in the 29 years of the Women’s College World Series, I’ve been able to experience six of them now.  It’s really good.  Our first year here was very different.  The first game it was difficult to adjust to everything that was going on.  You live and learn.  Sometimes you just come in and you just do it and you adjust as you go.  It’s been fun.  Obviously, Oklahoma has been home away from home for me for a long time.  Being able to win a couple national championships here in the state has been very rewarding.  I’m optimistic.  Just coming back here and looking at what we get to do and seeing UCLA and the number of times they have been here and Arizona and the number of times they have been here.  Now new faces like Hawai’i and what they’ve been able to bring to the sport and the notoriety and the fun, excitement and passion they play with — it’s neat.  The game has grown so much.  Obviously a lot of it is because of television, but I think it’s a lot because people love what they see on the field.  They see these young kids go out there and fight really hard and play really well.  It’s very meaningful for me on a very personal level.  It’s a lot of fun.”

On the advantages of playing in three straight World Series:

“I look at it from a different perspective.  I thought long and hard about changing the hotel and finding a new place to go play.  I look at it from a different angle, that the last time we played on this field we lost.  It’s exciting but in the same sense you have to have that short-term memory.  You have to be able to put things away and let those memories get out of your sights.  I think one of the advantages is that you know how the field plays.  I know it played very hard last year, I know the sun in right field is brutal.  We’ve been practicing, turning the outfielders around and throwing balls up in the sun and we just tell them ‘you have to find a way to find the ball because, to be honest with you, at the College World Series, this is how it is.’ As soon as you say ‘College World Series’ it seems like the players buy into that a little bit differently.”


On playing in her third World Series:

“It’s very special.  I remember watching my older sister (Christina) play (for Oklahoma) and going to the World Series.  Watching her on TV, I thought it was so cool that she can go and play there and I hoped that one day I would have the opportunity to be there.  The first time was just unreal and being able to come back is just so surreal.  It’s really an amazing feeling to know that I get to come here.”


Opening comment:

“Aloha, everyone. This is our first time here and we are really excited.  We want to thank everyone for the process along the way.  We’ve been on the road for 23 days — this is our 23rd day right now — and we are loving every moment of it.  Once we got done with finals, the young ladies pretty much settled down and have been professional softball players ever since.  We’re excited and looking forward to our first competition here at the Women’s College World Series.”

On the team’s focus at the College World Series:

“We experienced a little bit of a bigger crowd than we are used to at Alabama, a very fanatical crowd at Alabama.  We went from a very small amount of people at the WAC tournament, to a bigger group at Stanford to a very fan-oriented place at Alabama.  Here, it was the dream of a lot of these young ladies to walk out on that field and play.  They’ve practiced now and I don’t think we’re going to have any problem focusing.  We’ve been on the road, we’ve been in the same routine that we have been for the last three-and-a-half weeks.  We haven’t broken routine in regards to our lift days and our practice days.  Everyone has been very cordial in letting us practice at facilities that we never dreamed that we would practice at.  It’s been very eye-opening for the players to see the different stadiums and different locker rooms.  They’re getting a lot of information as to what they would like to see done at our place and back home.  Right now, I think they’re just taking in the moment.”

On if the weather will have an effect on the team:

“In Hawai’i, we have the humidity.  That’s something we play in all the time.  We have about 80 percent to 95 percent humidity all the time so we’re used to playing in this type of weather.  The high heat is not something we experience because of the trade winds.  The weather stays constant between 80, 85, and 88 degrees year round.  It might get down to a wind-chill factor of the high 60’s at night.  But we’re used to this weather.  The humidity is something that we’ve played in since we’ve been on the road.”


On fighting distraction during their first trip to the College World Series:

“We definitely need to stay focused.  A lot of our team has been star-struck, just walking into the stadium and thinking about how many people are going to fill up the stands.  Getting this much media attention is definitely really awesome and really cool but we need to stay focused.  We do have softball games that we are going to have to play and hopefully get to win.  We just need to stay within ourselves, not try to do too much, not try to show too much and just stay within Hawai’i ball and play our game.”

On if upsetting Alabama gave them confidence heading into the World Series:

“We got a lot of experience playing in front of a humongous crowd.  They were all against us.  It definitely shows that we do have heart and we can pull together as a team.  We are playing a lot of good teams while we are here and we just need to stay focused and play the way that we have.  This year we have tried to focus on what jersey we are putting on and not what team is in the other dugout.  That’s been our mentality the whole season, so we are going to stay that way while we are here.”


Opening comment:

“About two months ago, most people counted all my girls out, didn’t think we had much of a chance.  And they hung in there.  They just continually quietly kept winning games.  I’m very proud of them for their resolve and not giving up this year.  I’m looking forward to a great week here and have a lot of respect for all the teams in the tournament, and looking forward to competing.”

On the difference coming in this year versus last year:

“Last year we never had our feet under us.  After coming back from California and heading straight out here, it was too much of a whirlwind for us.  All the ESPN attention and all the bells and whistles that go along with the College World Series were so distracting that we forgot we had to  play a softball game.  So this year it’s been a process of trying to slow everything down and to continue to remember that no matter what we go through on a day-by-day basis here that we have a softball game on Thursday at 12 o’clock against a very good Hawai’i team.  And that’s the focus for us right now in front of everything else that goes on.”

On playing a home-run-hitting Hawai’i team:

“Well you are certainly trying to shut down their strength, which is their home-run power and there’s not a blanket statement that you can put on your entire lineup that says this is how we’re going to shut it down. It’s a player-by-player thing that we’re going to need to find a way to try to get each hitter out.  Every one of their hitters has different strengths and different weaknesses.  Preparation for us hasn’t changed.  It’s the same way it would be if we played anybody in the Big 12 during our regular season.  Again, it’s just an individual thing about how we get each hitter out.  But yeah, they’re a home-run-hitting team.  Kind of like in baseball, if you keep the Phillies or the Yankees in the park, you’ve got a chance to beat them. I think that it’s a slight advantage in the fact that the fences have been moved back and raised.  And hopefully the wind will be blowing in.”


On the difference coming in this year versus last year:

“We’re honored to be here, but right now it’s not about taking all this in front of media and all the stuff that comes with the College World Series.  It’s about winning games and taking it one at a time.”


Opening comment:

“I’d just like to congratulate all these teams, as well. You know, we’ve been part of this for awhile.  The road to get here — much respect, a lot hard work, a lot of teamwork, a lot of experience to be able to get to the point where you can be at your best when you need to be at your best.  This week will be a great week of softball, I look forward to it.  For us, we’re just playing our game and loving that we’re here being able to represent the school and doing everything we can to play our game.  So thank you for having us back.”

On how the game has changed since she played:

“This sport has grown, the facilities have improved.  The coaching has definitely improved across the board.  I think the student-athletes’ commitment to excellence across the board is outstanding.  There’s so much that has grown in the sport and I credit a lot of people who have walked before us — people like Dot Richardson and Sharron Backus and Sue Enquist.  And not just Bruins.  There are so many pioneers in our sport that have been able to develop this game.  So I’m very proud of where we’ve come from. 

“When you get to this point, you’ve just got to fight.  As (Florida coach) Tim (Walton) was saying, there’s an excitement out there, to be able to see this sport played.  It’s a different sport than I played back in the day with a white ball.  The ball can leave the park at any time.  The pitchers have to be mentally tough.  It comes down to defense still.  Can you play catch?  But ultimately, the commitment level across the board — there are some great things that are happening to the sport.  I think it’s going to be a great week of softball.”



At the end of each formal session, reporters are given an opportunity for additional questions of individual coaches and players.

SPY asked Candrea, famous for his analysis of hitting, about the recently published baseball “two strike” study which noted changes in players and managers when the count shifted from 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1  and 0-1, to 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, and 3-2, a study of a reported 5,000 players at-bats, with noted drops in batting averages even for the best hitters.  The same phenomenon occurs in softball, Candrea said, some players will take a chance on a fourth ball, while some will swing at pitches outside their zone, feeling they have to go after it.  Their comfort and confidence levels change. The game situation guides the coach on what they should do. There are exceptions, Candrea noted, hitters who were exceptional at fouling off pitches to get the pitch they wanted, even after two strikes.  Ted Williams and Paul O’Neill were cited as examples.

Earleywine was asked about Hawaii’s home run power – 154 this season to date, including the 2-run shot which kayoed Alabama in Super Regionals – and noted that the fences had been moved  back and raised  — which he intimated could be factors in playing Hawaii.  The fences are 200ft down the sidelines and 220 in center, a change from 190/210 in previous years.  SPY asked Enea about the difference; she has played left field at both depths.  Francesca said after the Gators warmed up, and conducted hitting and fielding drills, that the change makes a difference in the angles a fielder plays.  Inouye agreed that the longer distances put a premium on fielders who can make accurate throws to the bases, and could result in coaches making defensive substitutions late in games.  (UCLA lost starting center fielder Katie Schroeder earlier this year to a back injury.) 

Coolen expressed pride that his team not only includes players from virtually all the islands, (and more top recruits from the USA mainland), but also draws fans from all the islands.  He noted that 1200 people  came to watch the key games against Fresno State, a traditional WAC power, and came again the second day.

Marvelled at the army of ESPN technicians working to set up the cameras, computers, wires and cables needed to broadcast every game.



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