NCAA WOMEN’S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
May 30-June 5, 2013
ASA Hall of Fame Stadium
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Game 11: Tennessee 2, Texas 1
- In the 11th game of the 2013 Women’s College World Series, No. 7 NCAA Tournament seed Tennessee (52-10) posted a 2-1 win over No. 4 seed Texas (51-10) to eliminate the Longhorns.
- With the win in their fifth-ever semifinals appearance, the Lady Volunteers moved to 3-0 in this year’s WCWS and secured a spot in the championship series for the second time (lost in three games to Arizona in 2007). Tennessee is now 15-10 all-time in the WCWS.
- Tonight’s contest marked the fourth time Texas and Tennessee have met. The Tennessee win tied the all-time series at 2-2. The 2010 matchup featured the same starting pitchers, Texas’ Blaire Luna and Tennessee’s Ivy Renfroe, who were freshmen at the time. The latest meeting came in 2012, a 3-2 Texas win.
- Texas finished 2-2 in this year’s WCWS and is now 7-10 all-time in the event.
- Tennessee improved to 31-0 this season when leading after six innings.
- Tennessee senior Lauren Gibson belted a two-out solo home run in the first inning for the game’s first run. It was Gibson’s team-high 19th home runs this season. She hit her first collegiate home run off Luna in the 2010 meeting between the teams.
- The Lady Vols took a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning when pinch hitter Lexi Overstreet drew a two-out bases-loaded walk.
- Texas freshman Lindsey Stephens cut Tennessee’s lead to 2-1 by hitting her first career home run over the center field fence. Prior to this season, Texas had four home runs in its WCWS history. This year, the Longhorns hit three.
- Tennessee starting pitcher Ivy Renfroe improved to 22-4 on the season after pitching 4.2 scoreless innings. The senior allowed two hits and two walks while striking out six.
- Junior pitcher Ellen Renfroe picked up third save of the year. She pitched the final 2.1 innings, giving up one run on three hits and striking out one.
- Texas senior pitcher Blaire Luna (32-7) pitched a complete game, allowing two runs (both earned) on three hits and two runs while walking eight batters and striking out 12. Earlier in the day, Luna tossed a complete-game shutout in a 3-0 victory over Florida. She threw 288 pitches on the day. The game against Tennessee represented Luna’s 25th double-digit strikeout performance of the season and the third of the 2013 WCWS.
- Tennessee will meet Oklahoma or Washington in the Championship Series.
Tennessee – 2
Texas – 1
An interview with:
TENNESSEE COACH RALPH WEEKLY
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Tennessee co‑head coach Ralph Weekly and student‑athletes Lauren Gibson, Ellen Renfroe and Ivy Renfroe. We’ll start with an opening comment from Coach and go to the floor with questions.
COACH WEEKLY: On behalf of Karen, Marty, and Marc, my staff, for whom all this would not be possible, we love this team and we commend this team for doing what they’ve done. You saw three of the greatest pitchers in our era on the field tonight, and I’m serious about that.
Ivy and Ellen are both fantastic. As I said the other night, they would have had 30‑win records if one of them would have pitched on their own. And Blaire Luna was sensational. I take my hat off to their staff and their coaches and their team for their run here at the College World Series.
I’m just very proud to coach at Tennessee. I’m very proud to coach these young ladies, because, again, it’s all about the players.
Q. Lauren, just talk first of all about the home run, and then the second run which turned out to be critical?
LAUREN GIBSON: Well, the home run I just went up there looking for a good pitch to hit. I know Blaire Luna is a really good pitcher. She’s had a great four years, and I was just going up there looking for something that was in my zone, saw it and hit it. Obviously, the second run was critical. One run is great, but to put two on the board for our pitcher to have a little cushion for when we went out into the seventh inning and sixth inning was a really big deal.
Q. Was your first career home run off Blaire Luna?
LAUREN GIBSON: Yes, my first career home run was off Blaire Luna.
Q. Ivy, talk about your night and the illegal pitch. What happened there?
IVY RENFROE: I was a little confused. I think I stepped out of the box or something. I don’t even know. That’s probably not good to not know that, but I think that’s what happened. (No Microphone) I give it all to the Lord, because without him, being with him I relaxed, because I was pretty nervous for going out there. But, yeah, I’m just giving glory to Him.
Q. Did you sense anything slipping there in that inning or not?
IVY RENFROE: Maybe a little bit, just thinking too much. But like I said, thanks to Ellen for coming and having my back. I love her.
Q. Can you talk about what it means to get to this point and obviously now that you’re in the finals?
LAUREN GIBSON: Honestly, this is what we’ve all worked for. This is my third time going to the World Series, and this will be my first time in the World Championship Series. I can’t even explain the feeling. Just so excited and feel so blessed to have this opportunity to play another game with my teammates and my friends, and just to continue our season.
ELLEN RENFROE: Oh, yeah, I think it’s pretty much another opportunity to play with a great group of girls. We all love each other and I think it just gives us another day to continue to play. It’s obviously what we’ve worked for all year. From the very beginning back in August our goal was to win a national championship, and this is just another step that we had to take was winning tonight’s game to get to the championship series.
IVY RENFROE: It’s just very surreal. It’s hard to think right now. It’s like we really want to be playing in the championship series, but we’re just so blessed and it’s an honor to play with these girls. It’s been such a fun ride and I’m glad to see it keep going.
Q. What was the basis for them calling an illegal pitch?
COACH CLARK: What happened was Hannah Akamine who has been perfect all year just stepped out of the box. You’ve got to stay in the box. You’ve got to keep at least one foot in the box when you’re taking those throws, and she stepped out of the box. It was just inadvertent and something that she never does, but we did. That was the only thing. It wasn’t on Ivy.
Q. Ellen, just talk about coming in in this situation, and how did you feel coming in there?
ELLEN RENFROE: I felt pretty good coming in knowing that Ivy had worked so hard and I needed to hold them to no runs. So I was just going in and doing it for my sister.
Q. Lauren, refresh my memory, when did you hit your first career home run off Blaire Luna?
LAUREN GIBSON: I think it was March, maybe. It was our first time we’ve ever played each other my freshman year. I don’t remember the date or anything, but that was the first time I hit a home run off her.
Q. Ivy, when did you find out you were going to get the start today?
IVY RENFROE: Ralph, do you remember?
COACH CLARK: It was at our pregame meal.
IVY RENFROE: Sorry. It feels like a long time ago.
Q. Ralph, could you discuss Lexi Overstreet and putting the freshman in in that situation? It was a pretty high‑pressure situation, and the fact that she was able to work it off?
COACH CLARK: Yes, as her teammates know up here, we’re blessed, to use that word, we’re blessed to have a pretty deep bench. Lexi Overstreet would play on most teams and be one. She’s the kid that hit the walk‑off home run to win the Gold Nationals a few years ago. She’s a really good player. But she’s a catcher, and Hannah has been doing most of the catching. So we felt pretty good putting her in.
Q. Obviously you were in this position a few years ago. Would you talk about getting back to the finals and how you feel heading into it?
COACH CLARK: I almost don’t remember that. I’m serious. It’s been a long time ago. I do remember how amazing it was, and I’m so excited for our players to get to experience it, because all of America tunes in for the finals. I just remember that we won the first game and then lost the second one in 11 innings, and the third one was a tough game, but 0‑0 for five innings. But whoever comes out on the other side, it’s going to be a great series, I’m sure.
Q. Ivy and Ellen, talk about what it means to be here at this stage. But as sisters, what’s it mean to have gone through all these years together?
IVY RENFROE: It’s just tremendous to be together and for me to come with Ellen and Anna too, it’s really cool. It’s really awesome for the Lord to be able to bless us like that, to come to the World Series. It’s all softball player’s dream to come to the World Series, and to come with my sisters is really cool.
ELLEN RENFROE: It is an amazing opportunity for all of us to be here together. This is something all three of us will cherish for the rest of our lives.
Note: NCAA transcript is wrong, the UT coach is Weekly, not Clark
Tennessee – 2
Texas – 1
An interview with:
TEXAS COACH CONNIE CLARK
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Texas head coach Connie Clark and student‑athletes Taylor Hoagland, Blaire Luna, Mandy Ogle and Lindsey Stephens. We’ll start with an opening comment from Coach and go to the floor with questions.
COACH CLARK: Obviously, it’s tough to be done with our season a little bit earlier than we would have liked. But we talked to the team. I’m very proud of this group. I thought they had an exceptional year. We had tremendous, tremendous leadership from our captains — from our senior class specifically — and they always gave credit to the underclassmen because they said they were great followers. Just tremendous team chemistry. Really one of probably my most enjoyable years coaching, and I’m absolutely proud of the way we battled in this tournament and very proud of this 2013 team.
Q. Blaire, I think you had 280‑something pitches, faced 52 batters. Can you talk about how you’re feeling right now? Could you have gone longer, I guess?
BLAIRE LUNA: Yeah, I think I could have gone a little bit longer. Only thing that was really bothering me was my forearm was just kind of tightening up and a little blood blister on my finger. But I think I could have gone a couple more innings.
Q. Can you talk about your day as a whole? Like she said, 288 pitches, 26 strikeouts, can you just take us through what it takes to do something like that on a day?
BLAIRE LUNA: You know, it’s just about fighting and just staying the course. Like I’ve said this whole time, my mentality was just really work ahead and spread the zone; and that’s kind of what I tried to do. I think that’s why I had so many strikeouts. I think it was a struggle and upsetting that we didn’t come through offensively, but I’m really proud of our team and the way that we fought this year. Just the fact that we’re at the World Series, it’s something I wanted to accomplish, and we did it.
Q. Blaire, you’ve been part of the winningest senior class in school history and the team has been at the World Series for the first time in seven years. What does that mean and how much being short of the championship series is disappointing? And to Mandy, from your perspective, what’s it been like from behind the plate catching Blaire Luna?
BLAIRE LUNA: It is upsetting that we came up short, but just being here and so proud of our team and just the fight and not giving up. I’ve grown so much as a person this year, and I’ve accomplished a lot. I just really couldn’t be any more proud of my team and of myself.
MANDY OGLE: It’s been a pleasure catching Blaire. The fact that I’ve been able to grow as a catcher for the past two years and being her starting catcher has been incredible and a journey in itself. Thankfully she’s going to be around Austin so I get to still hang out with her. But to be able to catch one of the top three pitchers in the nation, it’s a pretty great thing to say. It’s just been great to give her that confidence to make sure that I can do anything in my part to help her.
Q. Coach, you know Oklahoma probably as well as anybody. If they advance, what do you make of the Tennessee‑Oklahoma series? I know Oklahoma will be the favorite.
COACH CLARK: I think it would be a great match‑up. Tennessee’s got a very solid club, a veteran club in many ways. I think Oklahoma has a veteran club as well. So if that ends up being the match‑up, I think it would be tremendous. Both have a lot of great athletes on both sides, and that’s what you want ultimately, to see the best two match up if you can. There is so much parity in the game right now that I think it was anybody’s coming in.
But those two clubs, I think the experience and the veterans that they have on each of those clubs probably makes those two the favorites.
Q. Coach, can you elaborate on the fact that this is the winningest class now that it’s over? What they’ve meant to the program? And Taylor, if you wouldn’t mind talking about the end of your four years and what it’s been like, this journey for you?
COACH CLARK: When you look back on these four, they’ve been tremendous from day one and really have contributed from day one. I mean, the best part of our job as coaches is seeing them grow up. That is something that you always think about on Senior Day and when you finish your season. Blaire alluded to it, they’ve grown up a lot and grown into amazing young women. Obviously, they’re tremendous athletes; but more than anything, you feel good about them heading out into the real world, so to speak, and doing great things because of the things that they’ve accomplished and the challenges and trials and tribulations that they’ve gone through.
They’ve been very, very good leaders. They grew into that, obviously, through their four years. They’re all very, very different. I think Torie and Blaire are a little bit quiet, and you’ve got Taylor Hoagland with her intensity and passion. Kim Bruins with always wanting to keep everybody loose but one of our captains and leading by example. I’m just proud of them to see them reach the pinnacle of our sport and go out on a high note at the Women’s College World Series.
TAYLOR HOAGLAND: These last four years have been a crazy, crazy ride with a lot of ups and downs. As much as this hurts, ending our season like this, just being here I wouldn’t wanted to have ended it anywhere else in any other fashion, really. Being a part of the senior class as well has given me a lot of things, three great friends, three great teammates. We’ve laughed; we’ve cried. So just being on the field with them for the last time and in this uniform with them was the best feeling that I could have imagined in this situation.
Q. Mandy or Taylor, on the game itself, you all looked to be having a lot of problems with Ivy Renfroe. Were you all expecting her to pitch? What was she doing that was so effective?
MANDY OGLE: She’s a lot quicker than what we’ve seen. In order to catch up to that, it’s just another adjustment you have to make. But she is one of the top pitchers and she’s not here just to be here. She’s here to win, and she came out fighting. It’s just a battle between a pitcher and a hitter.
TAYLOR HOAGLAND: Yeah, just to elaborate on what Mandy said, she did have some good speed on the ball and she just came right at us. I think that took us by surprise a little bit, and we had to make adjustments. Unfortunately, we didn’t make those adjustments quick enough. I think we had great hits, and we just weren’t getting the breaks that we needed to at the right time and things happen.
Q. To follow up on that, you did have runners in scoring position. How would you characterize the offensive approach tonight?
COACH CLARK: Well, with this group it’s usually a matter of time. They do a nice job as they progress through a game and usually make adjustments. I’d have to go back and look. But the fifth inning is usually a really good inning for us. I think there is something to be said for the fact that we end up making adjustments after we’ve seen a pitcher once or twice. She did a nice job. Ivy did a nice job, and obviously they made the pitching change as well. That gave us then a little bit of a different look. But good velocity, good movement; and yeah, she absolutely attacked the strike zone. When they made the change and they were mixing speeds a little bit more, obviously you want to get the timely hitting. We didn’t necessarily get it in the early innings tonight.
But I think the confidence and the approach and the discussion in the dugout stayed very positive. We just kept saying it’s a matter of time. Let’s get them on, get them over and actually push them across. But just weren’t able to quite come up with enough tonight.
Q. Lindsey, you got the offense going, you got a home run in the seventh that made things really interesting. What does this experience hitting a home run in your freshman year at the College World Series do for the future of this team and yourself?
LINDSEY STEPHENS: I believe it definitely shows how I have grown from when I first got here in August to where I am now to hope I’m where these seniors and juniors are when I’m in their shoes. I just went up there trying to get the job done. I wasn’t ready to stop. I knew these girls weren’t ready to stop. I just had one goal in my mind, and that was to hit the ball. So hopefully I can get better and continue to mature and grow as the years go.
Q. Coach, it took seven years for you to get back here. Is it harder to get here or to win once you’re here?
COACH CLARK: I think it’s both. All of the coaches talked about it in the press conference before the tournament even started. At least in the one I was in with the other three coaches. Everybody talked about it. It’s just tough now. It’s great for the sport because there is so much parity and so many good athletes.
You know, I remember back in the day you felt like you could schedule a W, and you can’t do that any more. Everybody’s tough. Early recruiting has contributed to that a little bit, and these athletes are spreading out.
Once you get here, I do think that it’s the first team that can relax a little bit. I thought we did a great job with that, to be quite honest. I think we did the things that we needed to do to at least give ourselves a chance to continue to advance and move forward. That’s all you can ask. So I think once you are here, you just have to get some breaks and some things have to happen and you just control what you can, and that’s compete hard. I think we can walk away with our heads held high knowing that we did that.
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