Category Archives: Top 25

National Champion Oklahoma schedule

NORMAN – Seventeen opponents that reached the 2016 NCAA Softball Tournament, including an early rematch against national runner-up Auburn, and the return of the Big 12 Softball Championship highlight the defending national champion University of Oklahoma softball team’s 2017 schedule.

It’ll be the 23rd season for the Sooners under the direction of head coach Patty Gasso. OU has reached the postseason in each of her previous 22 seasons, including seven straight trips to the Super Regionals, 10 appearances overall in the Women’s College World Series and three national titles.

The season starts for the Sooners Feb. 9-11 at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Playing outside the United States for the first time in program history, OU faces a loaded field with all four opponents reaching the postseason a year ago. The season begins against BYU, followed by a rematch against an Auburn team that OU beat in the Women’s College World Series Championship Series in 2016. The tournament then closes out with games against Nebraska and Washington, the latter of whom reached the Super Regionals a year ago.

From there, Oklahoma takes part in the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic, Feb. 17-18. In addition to two games against the host-Cougars, the Sooners are scheduled to face Incarnate Word and Ole Miss, who lost two games to OU during the 2016 Regionals.

OU then makes its annual trip to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., Feb. 23-25, where it will face a daunting field for the second time in the first three weeks of the year. After opening against Louisville, the Sooners match up against perennial powers Tennessee, Missouri and WCWS-participant UCLA before closing out against San Diego State.

After a road contest against another opponent from the 2016 Norman Regional, Wichita State, on March 1, the Sooners open their home schedule on March 3 with the Courtyard Marriott Tournament. Northwestern State, Evansville and Western Kentucky are all scheduled to visit Norman as part of the tournament schedule.

Intrastate foe Tulsa visits Norman March 8 to complete OU’s rematches against teams it hosted during last year’s Regionals, before Omaha and Illinois-Chicago come to town March 10-12 for another home tournament.

Spring break hits the week of March 13-19 and Oklahoma will be spending it in California with seven games on the docket. On March 14, OU will take part in a tournament on Long Beach State’s campus against the 49ers and Arizona. Both teams made the postseason a year ago with the Wildcats advancing to the Super Regionals.

From there, OU travels to Los Angeles for a tournament hosted by Loyola Marymount, March 16-18. The Sooners open against postseason participant Cal State Bakersfield before facing the host-Lions, Cal Poly and DePaul.

The Sooners then return home for their final tournament of the season, the College Preview Tournament, March 24-26. OU faces Mississippi State at home before venturing up the road to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City to meet Louisiana Tech and UAB. The weekend concludes with a second matchup against UAB at Marita Hynes Field.

Aside from a road game at North Texas on March 28 and a home game with Arkansas on April 5, the Sooners then spend the rest of the season after the Preview Tournament in conference play.

Oklahoma begins its quest for an unprecedented sixth straight Big 12 title as it opens league play with a three-game series in Norman against Iowa State on March 31.

The conference schedule also sees OU hosting Baylor (April 21-23) and a Bedlam matchup with Oklahoma State (May 5). OU will be on the road within the conference at Texas (April 7-9), Kansas (April 13-15) and Texas Tech (April 28-30). The other two Bedlam contests are set to take place in Stillwater on May 3 and 6.

For the first time since 2010, the Big 12 Softball Championship will be held May 12-13 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The championship will include pool play for the top six teams. Of the current league membership, OU and Texas have won the postseason title four times each, while Kansas won the championship in 2006.

OU won the very first Big 12 Softball Championship in 1996 and took home titles in 2001, 2007 and 2010, along with runner-up finishes in 1998, 2003, 2006 and 2009. All-time, Oklahoma holds a 39-18 record in the Big 12 Championship.

The 2016 NCAA Regionals are scheduled for May 19-21 at campus sites, while the Super Regionals are also scheduled to take place at campus sites from May 25-28. The 2017 Women’s College World Series will be held in Oklahoma City from June 1-7.

6-29-2016 Oklahoma Named Top Coaching Staff

NORMAN — The national champion Oklahoma softball coaches have been voted as the 2016 NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year, the National Fastpitch Association announced Wednesday.

Head coach Patty Gasso, associate head coach Melyssa Lombardi, assistant coach J.T. Gasso, volunteer assistant coach Andrea Gasso and director of operations Jackie Livingston took home the honor after guiding the Sooners to a 57-8 record and the third national championship in program history.

Gasso’s staff, which included Lombardi, was also tabbed the nation’s best in 2000 and 2013 after the Sooners won their first two national titles. OU has been recognized as the Division I Central Region Coaching Staff of the Year for each of the last five seasons.

Oklahoma was at its best when it mattered most, winning its final 22 games of the regular season and its first nine in the postseason for a school record 31-game winning streak. Among those victories were wins over No. 14 national seed Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 6 Alabama, No. 2 Michigan and No. 10 LSU.

Facing No. 4 Auburn in the Championship Series, OU claimed game one with a 3-2 victory as freshman Sydney Romero hit a three-run homer and sophomore Paige Parker held Auburn scoreless for six innings in a complete-game win. The Tigers rallied for an 11-7, extra-inning win in game two to force a decisive game three. The Sooners scored twice in the first inning and Parker gave up one run on five hits for her 38th win of the season in a 2-1 victory as Oklahoma became just the third team ever to win three national titles.

The Sooners started the season ranked No. 9 in the NFCA preseason poll and were as low as No. 14 as late as Week 9. The Sooners kept climbing though and entered the postseason as No. 3 before unanimously being ranked No. 1 in the final poll.

For the fourth time in the last five seasons Oklahoma had at least three All-Americans with Parker on the first team and second-teamers Erin Miller and Shay Knighten. OU tied a school record with eight All-Region honorees for the third straight season.

Winners of the Big 12 for the fifth straight year, Oklahoma swept every major conference award, including Player of the Year (Miller), Pitcher of the Year (Parker), Freshman of the Year (Knighten), Coach of the Year (Gasso) and Defensive Player of the Year (Kelsey Arnold). The Sooners put three players on the All-Big 12 First Team, four on the All-Big 12 Second Team and four on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team.

The team ranked second in the country in both batting average (.351) and fielding percentage (..983) while ranking fourth in winning percentage (.877), seventh in slugging (.538) and 10th in on-base percentage (.427). The batting average was second in both OU and Big 12 history, while the fielding percentage was a school and conference record and the fifth best in NCAA annals.

Parker led the nation in victories, matching the school record set by teammate Kelsey Stevens during the 2014 season. Parker also ranked second nationally in shutouts (14), 10th in strikeouts (269) and 21st in earned run average (1.64).

A 2012 NFCA Hall of Fame inductee, Gasso just completed her 22nd season at the helm of the OU program. She owns a career collegiate coaching record of 1246-372-3 (.770) with an overall mark of 1085-313-2 (.776) at the University of Oklahoma. She ranks seventh among active coaches (min. 5 years) and ninth all-time (min. 10 years) in winning percentage, while her win total is 14th all-time and ninth among active coaches.

Gasso has won more Big 12 games (290-84) than any coach in the league’s history. Oklahoma has claimed nine Big 12 regular season and four championship titles under her direction, including the 2016 crown after a program-best 17-1 mark in league play.

6-15-2016 Trisha Ford New ASU Coach

Arizona State Hires Fresno State’s Ford as Next Softball Coach
Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics
Release: 06/15/2016

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Trisha Ford, who previously served as the head softball coach at Fresno State, has been named head coach of the Arizona State University softball program. Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director Ray Anderson announced the appointment Wednesday.

Ford takes over an illustrious Sun Devil program that lays claim to over 1,600 wins and four national championships. Ford led her Fresno State team to consecutive Mountain West Conference championships in each of the past two seasons as the defending MWC Coach of the Year and will serve as an assistant coach for the 2016 USA Softball Woman’s National Team this summer.

“One of the greatest indicators of future success is what someone has accomplished in their past, and based on Trisha’s achievements, we anticipate she will bring great success to Sun Devil Athletics,” said Anderson. “She has elite expectations and recognized the innovative direction that Arizona State is heading. She has great energy and I believe our student-athletes will buy into her vision for the program.”

Ford spent the previous four seasons at the helm of Fresno State after spending nine seasons at Stanford (2004-12), including four seasons as associate head coach.

She arrives with a record of mentoring and developing pitchers. In her 13 years at Fresno State and Stanford, where she served as the primary pitching coach, Ford’s pitching staffs posted sub-3.00 ERAs 11 times with four sub-2.00 campaigns.

Under Ford, Fresno State’s offense ranked among the nation’s top 35 teams in batting average in each of the past two seasons and finished 19th in scoring in 2016. The Bulldog defense has been consistently ranked among the top-three fielding team’s in the MWC in Ford’s four seasons at the helm and finished in the top 35 nationally in fielding percentage in 2013 and 2014.

“The job at Arizona State is a great opportunity to coach an elite-level, Pac-12 softball program,” said Ford. “ASU has been a school I have followed closely and it has been a dream of mine to get the chance to coach here in Tempe. The team has such great student-athletes and I can’t wait for us to return the program to national prominence. I am also looking forward to getting out into the community, meeting our former players and getting to know such a loyal and passionate fan base. I would like to thank President Crow, Ray Anderson, Don Bocchi, Scottie Graham and Deanna Garner-Smith for this opportunity to bring home another NCAA Title to Arizona State.”

After taking over the storied Bulldog softball program in June of 2012, Ford claimed her first conference title in 2015 and led Fresno State to back-to-back postseason campaigns. In Ford’s first season with the Bulldogs, Fresno State transitioned into the Mountain West. Since then she has built a record of 68-21 in conference play and an overall record of 142-71-1 (.667), including a record of 82-28-1 (.743) over the past two seasons.

The two-time defending Mountain West Coach of the Year (2015, 2016), Ford led her Bulldogs to consecutive 40-win campaigns in the past two years. That includes a 2016 campaign that saw Fresno State go 42-12-1 with an incredible 22-1 mark in MWC action. The Bulldogs went unbeaten through the month of April and recorded a then-nation-leading 23 game win streak, setting a new school record for consecutive victories.

After enjoying 14 weeks ranked in the nation’s top 25, Fresno State closed out the 2016 regular season at No. 18 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 and No. 20 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Softball Coaches Poll – the highest final team ranking since the 2008 season. The 14 weeks in the rankings set a new Mountain West record, as Fresno State became the first MWC team to crack the rankings since 2012.

The Bulldogs registered four of the league’s five postseason honors including Kierra Willis as the 2016 Mountain West Player of the Year, Jill Compton as the Pitcher of the Year, senior catcher Paige Gumz as the Defensive Player of the Year and Ford as the reigning Coach of the Year – becoming just the third coach in MWC history to repeat as Coach of the Year. Compton similarly was the third pitcher in league history to earn the award twice.

Ford has been greatly involved with USA Softball as an assistant coach for the Junior National Team and will take her leadership skills back to the national level this summer as she joins the ranks of the USA Senior National team coaching staff. Last season, Ford helped lead the U.S. Junior Team to a gold-medal performance at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Junior Women’s World Championship. Ford guided Kelly Barnhill as she went the distance in the circle for Team USA, tossing 99 pitches and striking out 11, while allowing only one earned run against defending champion Japan.

In 2013, the Americans went 8-1 in the event with its only loss in the tournament final to Japan en route to the silver medal at the International Softball Federation (ISF) X Jr. Women’s World Championships with Ford on the staff. The U.S. pitchers did not allow a run in the first eight games that included one no hitter, five one-hitters and two, two-hitters, and overall sported a 0.45 ERA for the tourney with 61 strikeouts, three walks and 16 hits allowed in 46 innings.

In her nine years with the Cardinal prior to Fresno State, Ford helped guide Stanford to its greatest run in school history and a 385-155 (.713) overall record. The team advanced to the postseason in each of Ford’s nine seasons, making six Super Regionals and one Women’s College World Series (2004) appearances, and ended the season ranked in the top 10 four times.

At Stanford, Ford served as the primary pitching coach and worked with the infielders while also being responsible for recruiting, community outreach, camps and clinics. Ford helped the Cardinal average 43 wins per season and mentored three of the best hurlers in school history.

Ford oversaw the development of All-American pitchers Missy Penna and Dana Sorenson with Penna finishing her time at Stanford as a two-time All-American and the school record holder in wins (119), strikeouts (1,267), shutouts (50) and innings pitched (1,086.1) while finishing her career with a 1.84 ERA.

Ford also worked with Teagan Gerhart during her latter seasons on ‘The Farm’, guiding Gerhart to top-four marks in career strikeouts and shutouts, a career 2.14 ERA, and 23 victories to help the Cardinal finish the season with a 40-19 record and a No. 20 national ranking.

Prior to joining Stanford’s coaching staff, Ford spent two seasons as the head coach at her alma mater – Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. Prior to being named head coach, Ford served as an assistant at Saint Mary’s in 2001.

Arguably the best softball player in Saint Mary’s history, Ford, the former Trisha Dean, is the only female student-athlete in school history to have her number (9) retired.

In the spring of 2007, Ford was among six former athletes and coaches to be inducted into the Saint Mary’s College Hall of Fame. Ford graduated from Saint Mary’s with a degree in politics in 1999. A native of Fremont, Calif., she earned nine varsity letters in softball, volleyball and basketball during her prep career at American High School. An All-East Bay pick as a senior, Ford was also a four-time All-Mission Valley Athletic League selection.

Ford and her husband, Eddie, married in the summer of 2005, and have two children, Emma and EJ.

Arizona State Sun Devils Softball

6-9-2016 WCWS Recap Game Notes and Quotes

WCWS RECAP
BY OU SOURCES
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Third-seeded Oklahoma (58-7) won the third national championship in program history Wednesday night after a 2-1 win over No. 4 Auburn (58-12).
– Oklahoma joins UCLA (11) and Arizona (8) as the only programs in NCAA Division I history to win three national titles.
– Coupled with national titles in men’s gymnastics and women’s gymnastics, this is just the second time in school history that the Sooners have won three national championships in one academic year. It also happened in 1950-51 when football, wrestling and baseball all won titles. This is the first time OU has won three national titles in one semester.
– Paige Parker was named the Most Outstanding Player as she allowed just one run on five hits and one walk. She struck out five and retired the final 12 batters of the game to win her 38th game of the season, tying teammate Kelsey Stevens (2014) for the most wins in a season in OU history.
– Oklahoma scored all of its runs in the first inning behind two errors on one play by Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone and an infield RBI single by freshman Fale Aviu, who finished 2-3.
– Auburn’s lone run came in the fourth on Jade Rhodes’ solo home run.
POSTGAME NOTES

Championship Series Game 3: Oklahoma 2, Auburn 1

• In the third game of the best-of-three Championship Series of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, Oklahoma won its third national title, defeating Auburn, 2-1. It was the lowest scoring Game 3 in WCWS history. The Sooners finish their season with a 56-8 record while the Tigers end at 58-12.

• Oklahoma made its fourth appearance in the Championship Game or Championship Series (2000, ’12, ’13, ’16), while Auburn appeared in the best-of-three series for the first time in school history.

• The Sooners become just the third team to win at least three national titles, joining UCLA (11 titles) and Arizona (8 titles).

• In its 10th appearance (2000, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’16), Oklahoma improved to 22-15 at the Women’s College World Series. The Sooners are tied for fourth all-time with 22 WCWS victories. Auburn is 6-4 in its second-ever appearance at the WCWS (2015, ’16).

• With the 2016 title, Patty Gasso becomes the fourth coach in WCWS history to win three NCAA titles, with the first two coming in 2000 and 2013. Through the first 34 WCWS, only 14 coaches have won the NCAA title. Mike Candrea (8) and Sharon Backus (7, after 1995 title was vacated) lead the way. Gasso ties Sue Enquist ties with three.

• Oklahoma leads the all-time series against Auburn, 4-1.

• Oklahoma is the first team to win a national title with a negative-run differential since the start of the championship series in 2005.

• Paige Parker got the win for Oklahoma, giving up one run on five hits and striking out five. Parker, who finishes her sophomore campaign at 38-3 in the circle, was named the 2016 WCWS Most Outstanding Player for her efforts in the tournament. The sophomore is the fifth pitcher to win Game 3 of the Championship Series by throwing a complete game.

• Parker’s five wins in the 2016 WCWS are tied for the second-most ever by a pitcher. The sophomore’s 38 wins rank as the most in OU history.

• Two Auburn errors led to the Sooners scoring their first run of the game. Two errors on the same play by Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone allowed Caleigh Clifton to score from the second base. Freshman Fale Aviu put OU on top 2-0 with an RBI infield single to score Shay Knighten.

• Aviu led the way with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate along with one RBI. Clifton and Knighten added in one hit apiece.

• Auburn senior Jade Rhodes collected her third home run of the WCWS with a solo shot to left field in the top of the fourth. Rhodes’ three homers were the most by a single player at this year’s WCWS. The senior’s nine RBI are tied for the fifth-most in a single WCWS. She finished the season with 20 home runs.

• Auburn pitcher Makayla Martin was the third freshman to start in the circle for the deciding game of the WCWS Championship Series. Martin threw 6.0 innings with two runs (all unearned) on five hits, while walking two with one strikeout. Anjelica Selden (2005, UCLA) is the only other freshman to make a start in the circle for Game 3.

• Oklahoma finished with six doubles plays are tied for the second most in WCWS history. Auburn turned six in 2015. Florida holds the record with seven in 2014.

• There were 42 errors were committed at the 2016 WCWS, the fourth most in the event’s history.

• Attendance for Game 3 was 8,367, a Session 10 record. The total WCWS attendance was 78,072, just six shy of matching last year’s record of 78,078. It’s third time that WCWS has drawn over 75,000 fans.

Clint Myers
Emily Carosone
Jade Rhodes
Makayla Martin
Kasey Cooper
Tiffany Howard
Auburn
Oklahoma – 2, Auburn – 1
CLINT MYERS: I’m very proud of these young ladies
that play softball at Auburn University. They gave their
heart, their soul. They gave their commitment. They
battled. They were relentless. They lost to an
outstanding Oklahoma team, well-coached, great
athletes.
We talked at the beginning in August about having the
opportunity. We were picked, I believe, sixth to finish in
the SEC. We won it. We won it. We lost to Arizona.
People said we couldn’t come back. We beat them
twice. Heart, character, relentless pursuit of
excellence.
We lose the first game to Oklahoma. We come back.
Extra innings. They beat Oklahoma. We came up one
run short. We didn’t do the little things. If we do the
little things, we win that ballgame 1-0. The freshman
pitcher, people were asking, why a freshman? I think
you saw why a freshman.
Ice water in her veins, competitor beyond competitors,
an outstanding young lady that went out there, took the
ball, and said, we’re going to win. And she pitched her
ass off. I don’t know if you can get that on the bloopers
or not, but that’s the best way to describe it. We could
go on and on about the accolades of these young
ladies that sit to my right and the ones that are not
here. But I just told them — we have a saying, if you
play softball at Auburn University, you will make the
world a better place. I believe that each of these young
ladies with their commitment, their drive, what they’ve
learned as far as life lessons has made the world a
better place.
Q. I know it’s tough for everybody right now, but
especially for Emily, how is she handling things
and how tough is it to see such a player of that
quality go through a game like that?
CLINT MYERS: Emily is just taking it hard. She is the
one that sat up here and said — Emily just came in.
We will let Emily answer that question.
Q. Emily, obviously a big game yesterday and
obviously you’re such a quality player. How tough
is it to have a game like this in this situation? I
know everybody is having a tough time, but
particularly with the struggles that you had today.
EMILY CAROSONE: I mean, in the beginning of the
season, during the fall, I sat in front of my locker and
just prayed. I was like, God, I just want to make it to
the very last day. I want to play every last game that I
can, every game possible, and I got it. I mean, the
team was good enough to win. They’re going to come
back next year and they’re going to come back strong.
Q. Emily, could you just talk about what happened
on the throw on the play in the first inning? Did the
ball slip out of your hand?
EMILY CAROSONE: It did. I mean, I don’t get it.
That’s never happened before, but it happened today.
It slipped.
Q. Clint, just want to ask what makes (Paige)
Parker so difficult to face?
CLINT MYERS: Paige is a quality pitcher. I mean, the
rest that she had, her velocity was up a little bit
compared to what she was the first day. Her
movement was a little bit more. When you’re rested,
you pitch better, and she’s an outstanding pitcher. You
don’t win 35, 36, 37 games like she has and not be,
especially for a program like Oklahoma. She pitched
well.
I mean, if you look, it was a 2-1 ballgame. Our pitcher
gave up only five hits, too. The Paige Parker of the
future is sitting in front of you now. She gets the
support that Paige gets and we do the things, but I just
think that the rest gave her a little bit — she was a little
crisper, a little sharper. But I mean, we had our
opportunities and we didn’t capitalize.
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:20:00 GMT page 1 of 3
Q. Makayla, you’ve just heard your coach say you
pitched your ass off. How do you feel about your
performance, such a high pressure situation for
you being a freshman, and how hungry are you
going to be next year to get back here?
MAKAYLA MARTIN: I mean, I wasn’t really pressured
when Corey (Myers) and all the coaches told me I was
going to throw this game. I already knew I was going to
throw this game yesterday, or two days ago, I don’t
know. But I mean, I thought I — the game was — I
thought I was throwing good, and just like little things
happened. I don’t know. I don’t know.
CLINT MYERS: I think you did a good job answering
that.
Q. For the seniors, what did you tell your team
coming into this game, and what final notes are
you going to leave with them for next season?
TIFFANY HOWARD: I just want everybody to give all
they had and leave it all on the field. We’ve worked so
hard and just to let it just play and have fun. I had fun
even though we lost. I had fun playing the game.
That’s all I can ask of our underclassmen to do. I just
hope they continue to work just as hard as we did this
entire year in practice and really do come back
stronger and bring these other freshmen in and get
them moving faster and learning faster. They’ll be right
back here next year if they can do that, and I know they
can.
Q. Jade, Emily and Kasey, how frustrating is a
game like this knowing you’re a much better hitting
team than that and not being able to deliver in a
game like this?
JADE RHODES: I wouldn’t say frustrated. I mean,
yeah, it’s frustrating, but it happens to the best. We got
them to the third game, and most people didn’t even
think that was going to happen. I mean, I wouldn’t
want it any other way. This is an amazing team, and
it’s just — you know, it sucks that we had to go out this
way. But I know that we’re capable of hitting. We’ve
shown it all the time. The second game, look, we
scored 11 runs in, what, two innings? So I really don’t
have any doubt that we could have done it again, so it
is what it is.
EMILY CAROSONE: Paige Parker did a great job. It’s
the happiest time of the year and the saddest time of
the year. There’s always a loser and there’s always a
winner, and I think Oklahoma deserves it.
KASEY COOPER: I’m frustrated to the fact that we
know we’re better, but I’m more frustrated that we didn’t
have Emily’s back. Emily had a bad game, and we
weren’t there for her, and we’re better. When Whitney
(Jordan) had a bad game, we got behind her and we
gave her
the support, and Emily shouldn’t be feeling this way
because we didn’t have her, and that’s what I have to
say about that.
Q. Jade and Tiffany, Jay Jacobs said the other day
that Clint Myers is the best teacher he’s ever been
around. What did he teach you and what will you
leave this program with?
TIFFANY HOWARD: Confidence. I had none of it
basically my sophomore year, and it definitely built on
every single year, and just him believing in me made
me want to believe in myself even more, so mostly that.
And literally just taught the game to me in a whole new
way. I really don’t think I understood softball quite as
well as I thought I did until he came here, and I felt like
I was literally learning a whole new game full and I
think of him so much because he finally got me to my
full potential I feel like, and I can’t thank him enough for
that.
Q. Jade, you had a successful series against Paige
Parker, two home runs. Talk about what it was like
to face her.
JADE RHODES: Just like facing any other pitcher. I
mean, you’re going against the best of the best when
you come to the College World Series. She did her
thing. I mean, she came in there and shut us down. A
couple of us had great at-bats, and just seeing the ball
was great, knowing that my last at-bat, I mean, it wasn’t
a hit, but she did her thing. She’s a great pitcher and
she came in and shut us down.
Q. For the seniors, when you think, and I know it’s
probably tough right now about the transformation
this program has undergone since you were
freshmen getting to this point, are you proud of the
shape you’re leaving the program in, and what do
you think the future holds?
JADE RHODES: For me, I couldn’t be more proud.
Starting from when I was a freshman and ending now, I
mean, it’s an amazing feeling. Having Coach come in
my sophomore year, he turned it around. I mean,
obviously a lot of you don’t know I was not the person I
was my freshman year to now. Getting to finish with
Emily, I mean, we call us our right side, so Emily is
always going to be there if I’m there. I know he’s going
to leave — this whole team, this is going to be a whole
big turnaround. People are coming in. He’s going to
pick it up. He’s not going to quit teaching. He’s going
to tell them what he told us, and that’s — we’re not
slowing down for you, you’re going to have to pick it up
and you’re going to have to go with our pace because
we’re not slowing down.
TIFFANY HOWARD: I can’t be more proud of us. I
literally sometimes just sit down and really think about
our freshman year, and then the transition our
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:20:00 GMT page 2 of 3
sophomore year, and that was just in itself a huge leap,
and then we took another huge leap, and now we’re
here playing for a national title, and I never thought in a
million years I would be doing this, and I feel like none
of us freshmen really did during that time. I’m so proud
of us for what we did, and I guarantee you they’re
going to be back next year to finish it off.
Q. Kasey, this whole year, and you even said it
back in fall ball, was three more days. You guys
accomplished three more days. What is the next
motto and when does that start for you guys?
KASEY COOPER: Maybe when. I think that’s a good
one. We need to be more specific next time. Just to
focus more on the little things. We failed ourselves,
and we failed to have each other’s backs, and we’re
going to put a big focus and emphasis on that next
year. We need to focus on when there’s a runner on
third, get them in. We need to focus on finding a way
on and making adjustments at the plate when we’re
struggling and getting them in the air, put pressure on
the defense, make them make the plays because the
field is a rock, and it plays different the first inning than
it does the fifth inning because the water dries off.
Just putting more pressure on the defense and having
our pitchers’ backs. I think our pitchers pitched a
fantastic job, and I could not be more proud of them
because they were the best staff that I’ve ever been a
part of. We couldn’t ask more from them, so we’re
going to say keep up the good work and keep doing
what you’re doing. Offensively we’re going to really
focus on that, because I feel that defense does win
ballgames, but as long as you score more runs than
the other team, you’re going to win, so that’s what I
would say going forward.
Rev

 

Patty Gasso
Paige Parker
Shay Knighten
Erin Miller
Fale Aviu
Lea Wodach
Oklahoma
Oklahoma – 2, Auburn – 1
THE MODERATOR: At this time we have University of
Oklahoma on the dais.
PATTY GASSO: Well, first of all, I have to in victory or
defeat, in this group we give God the glory. We took a
journey that he led us on, and we just continued to
work hard as a group. A lot of people talked about us
being young, and we never let that give us any reason
for excuse.
Before I get into anything, I want to thank everybody
that participated in helping this event go on from All
Sports Association and our great University of
Oklahoma. I thought the umpiring, so forth, was
fantastic, and the NCAA and all those who helped, we
really appreciate putting on such a great event.
And I also need to absolutely congratulate Auburn.
What a great team. Very well-coached. They made us
have to play so much better. They made us better.
Clint Myers and his staff are tremendous. They do
their homework. They knew what they were doing.
They have some great athletes, and I congratulate
them. They definitely were one of the toughest teams
we’ve faced this season.
I felt our team definitely took the hard road through this.
We had to open up with Alabama, and that was a very
tough game, and then on to — who did we play next?
Michigan, LSU. We played some of the best in the
country, so I definitely feel like this team earned every
second of our success because they played from the
first pitch to the last.
I can’t say enough about not just Paige Parker but the
whole team playing great defense behind her. Tonight
was a tribute to a great pitching performance who shut
down a very potent offense and a defense that made
incredible plays behind her. We came out strong early,
scored first, and then we got stagnant, and I will give —
(Makayla) Martin did a great job of keeping us a little off
balance. I could feel like our bodies looked like they
were getting tired, and we just couldn’t get our legs into
things and get the ball through the infield.
But they did a nice job of keeping us into ground-outs
and not really allowing us to get really our legs into
things. But that’s part of the — this team was starting to
run out of gas, so it was just pure adrenaline and love
for team that kept them going tonight.
Q. Patty, you stayed in the dugout through much of
the early celebration, team dog piling. Walk me
through what you were thinking in those moments,
and can I ask Shay and Erin, Coach mentioned the
fact that you didn’t use the young nature of this
team as an excuse. How did she rally you guys
together to make this run?
PATTY GASSO: I first thing went to my knees. It was a
very stressful week, and that’s all I could do. Took a
breath, turned around, saw JT (Gasso). At first I saw
Coach (Melyssa) Lombardi, and we were just kind of
crying on each other because we both felt a
tremendous amount of pressure because we love this
team so much, we don’t want to mess it up for them.
And it’s the hardest thing to do is be a pitching coach
because every pitch you live with the pitcher on. So
I’m so, so proud of her and JT, where people might
have thought, really, you’re hiring your son, so I hope
that’s confirmation that he’s pretty good. I turned
around and found him, my daughter-in-law Andrea
(Gasso). What a great job she did. The team was
celebrating, and I just needed to celebrate my staff
because they were phenomenal and I wanted them to
see me first, and the team was caught up in each
other.
SHAY KNIGHTEN: For me, it was more of Coach
(Patty Gasso) just not letting me think I was a
freshman, and that goes for the whole team. They
allowed me to just come in and play free. They said,
well, even though you’re a freshman, you’re going to
have to step up one way or another, and so I kind of
took that to heart and was
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:49:00 GMT page 1 of 5
like, okay, I’ve got you guys. I’m going to figure this
out. Even though I’m a freshman I’m not going to be
too big, do anything out of what I’ve already done, and
just help you guys to the best of my ability, and I
couldn’t thank Coach or the seniors or anybody else on
my team enough for it.
ERIN MILLER: Yeah, I think the first thing that Coach
mentioned when this year started was that we’re never
going to use the excuse that we were young and that
kind of set the stakes for the rest of the year. Our
mantra for the year was team. We lost some really
good seniors, and we weren’t going to let that defeat
us, and I think this team really took that upon
themselves to prove to the nation that we can do it
without those big names. Our freshmen absolutely
stepped up. They played like veterans the entire year.
They’re going to do some amazing things in years to
come.
Q. Patty, you had to make a tough decision
yesterday, and of course things didn’t work out in
the end, but you had Parker come back and she
was outstanding today, which proves, again, you’re
one of the best coaches in the country. Your
decisions, you’re always convinced in what you’re
going to do. But still, when you woke up today and
you got ready today, were you feeling pretty good
about things?
PATTY GASSO: Yeah, yeah. It was a tough deal, but I
— and I appreciate your comments, but it was a team
decision. I mean, I talked with our coaching staff. We
shared it with the team. We talked with Paige (Parker).
It was about her gas tank and where it was, and I think
now we can talk about it. Are you okay with that? I
think Paige would tell you that she was yesterday —
when she threw the first game against Auburn, her tank
was about half full, so to be half-full and beating them,
that’s pretty big because they’re just a very, very good
offense.
When I talked to her on Tuesday morning after an ice
bath, I think it was at a third of a tank, which is not
enough to beat that team. And if we would have tried
and put her out there, even in the third when we had a
lead, I don’t know that — my heart is with this kid first,
and to put her in a non-winning potential situation, I
couldn’t do that because she helped us get here. So it
was, you know, we’re going to do the best we can to
win that game on Tuesday, give her rest. The only way
I would have brought her in is if we would have scored
and she saw her go down late.
The fact that we didn’t score and we didn’t use her, I
sent her a text this morning, and she didn’t answer it,
so it scared me a little bit. But I think her comment was
75 percent, and when you add adrenaline in that, you
probably get to 85 to 90 percent, and that would give
us a chance to win a championship.
Thank you, Paige, for filling your gas tank.
Q. I know you all dream of playing here, but just
what did it mean to you all to be able to celebrate
this in front of all that crimson?
PAIGE PARKER: It was one of the most fantastic
feelings that I’ve ever had in my whole life. Our fans
this year have been so vital to all of the things that
we’ve done. They’ve supported us so much, and to
have all of them here and to have all of our families
here, as well, just meant so much to us, and it was just
incredible to get to share this feeling with them, as well.
SHAY KNIGHTEN: Sooner Nation, I don’t even know
what to say about them. They’re incredible. To look up
in between innings, even during an inning, to see them
smiling down at us saying you guys got this, yelling for
us, screaming for us, doing whatever they can to keep
us going, it’s huge for us, and we couldn’t thank them
any more and I couldn’t thank them any more,
especially being a freshman, seeing this first hand, it’s
unbelievable, especially seeing them on TV. You
always want to be in that position, and for me to see
that, it’s huge.
ERIN MILLER: Yeah, I would say the connection this
team has with their fans is very, very special. We have
something that a lot of programs don’t, and that’s
Sooner tradition. This university is something
incredible, and I think anyone that’s a part of it could
say that.
As a senior, I can’t thank our fans enough. Playing
here has been the greatest four years of my life.
FALE AVIU: Sooner Nation has been amazing, just
looking up there into the stands like Shay (Knighten)
was saying and seeing everyone’s hands up knowing
that they got us and we got them was just so much
fun, and being a freshman and seeing that and being a
part of this was such an amazing feeling.
LEA WODACH: I have to agree with everyone. Just
looking out and seeing all the red, especially from
behind home, I get a cool view of the whole outfield
packed with crimson and cream. There’s nothing
better than that. And I know at one point, too, we had
the infield and the outfield screaming Boomer Sooner,
and at that point I’m like, we’re in this we got this. No
matter what happens, our fans are behind us, and
there’s not a better feeling.
Q. Paige, as it turns out obviously you were healthy
and fully rested today. How big was it for those
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:49:00 GMT page 2 of 5
two to eat up innings yesterday as it turns out
now?
PAIGE PARKER: Kelsey (Stevens) and Jayden
(Chestnut) did a fantastic job yesterday, and I couldn’t
be more proud of them. They’ve worked so hard this
whole year, and I’m just so proud of the heart and the
fight that they showed. You know, after the game they
both talked to me, and they were like, go out and do it
for the pitching staff. That meant so much to me
because we’re out in the bullpen, the four of us, every
day together, and we see how much each other fight
and how much we all work so hard. It was just really
special what they did yesterday. Even though we didn’t
get the outcome that we wanted yesterday, what they
did was phenomenal, and I’m just so proud of them.
Q. Paige, you retired the final 12 batters you faced.
Was there an extra gear you kind of kicked it into,
and describe that for us?
PAIGE PARKER: I definitely think that there was. Their
pitcher was doing a great job, and I knew how
important it was to keep their offense off balance so
that our offense could have a little bit of wiggle room
because I know how hard our offense was fighting to
score off of her, and she did a great job. So I just kind
of took myself to another level and just went into
another gear, and I was willing to do whatever I had to
to help this team win.
Q. Paige, Auburn was talking about they were
looking forward to seeing you again because they
felt like they kind of had a beat on what you were
doing in Game 1. How much were you looking
forward to seeing them in Game 3?
PAIGE PARKER: I was pretty excited. They are a very
good offensive team, and they are a very well-coached
team, and I knew that they were going to come out and
fight. I had to get myself mentally prepared, and I give
a lot of credit to Coach Lombardi. This whole year she
has worked so hard at preparing us for each team that
we were going to face, and she came out and we had a
really, really good game plan against them. It was just
going out there and executing it. I just give a lot of
credit to her and a lot of credit to Lea (Wodach). I
couldn’t have done anything without the two of them,
and our other pitchers, as well.
It’s just a testament to how fantastic of a pitching coach
Coach Lombardi is.
Q. Coach, she’s come such full circle when you
look at what happened last year in Tuscaloosa.
How ironic was the ball was in her hands to win a
World Series?
PATTY GASSO: You know, I’ll never forget that moment
with Paige in Alabama, truly she went from a girl to a
woman in one weekend, and I knew that things would
change for her since she started her sophomore
campaign.
I think it’s pretty relative how we faced Alabama out in
Fullerton. Paige threw well. She did it here again.
And just to see her continue to live in another level that
— elite, elite athletes can get there. Not every athlete
can. Paige found that place in Alabama last year, and I
almost have to be somewhat grateful that we had to go
through that experience because we wouldn’t be here if
she didn’t.
Q. If you go back to January or February, what
sense did you have of what this team’s potential
could be in 2012 and 2013 at the same stage?
PATTY GASSO: They’re all laughing. I didn’t know. I
think at the start of our season we went out to UNLV,
and we lost I think our first two games. We were 0-2.
We lost to Minnesota and we lost to Washington. It
was almost panic from the first weekend. All of us
were like, wow, wait, what happened? They were
scared, very tight, and I think we just started to
understand — and they’re going to laugh when I say
this word because every time I say it they laugh, but
the word freedom is about what this group is about.
The freedom to make mistakes. They can be good
mistakes because you can learn from them, and that is
why this group can be so loose because they just can
play the way they need to play without me pointing my
finger in their face or anybody — the only reason — only
time I would get on them is if they didn’t put out
maximum effort. Besides that, we just had to learn a
lot, and the more we played the better they got, but
they had this tenacious energy about them that they
love competition, they love challenges, and they don’t
like to be beat. They take it very personal.
But them together as a team is so powerful and so
strong.
Q. Paige, you had some rough early innings that
you had runners on and no outs, and it just
seemed to almost — something seemed to
galvanize in you in those situations. What was
going through your head, your body, just
everything in those moments?
PAIGE PARKER: Just do not — I just couldn’t — I just
was determined to not let them score. I knew how hard
our offense was working, and I wanted them to have
freedom to play. And so it was just about going out
there and in those tough situations being even tougher.
Going to another level and just being determined to not
let them score.
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:49:00 GMT page 3 of 5
Q. Patty, a lot of the talk recently has been about
your freshmen and your underclassmen. Can you
talk about the role that your seniors had on this
team, and then Erin, can you talk about your role
throughout the season and then recently in the last
couple of games?
PATTY GASSO: It was, I think, July or maybe early
August, I had Kady Self and Erin Miller come to my
house, and we were going to make some coaching
changes, and I presented them with the idea of JT
(Gasso), and they knew JT, and I needed their blessing
and their thumbs up on that, and they did, and they
bought in, and they really worked hard to help him fit
with his new style, which isn’t so new. It’s still the
same kind of swing plan and so forth, but it has a little
more aggressiveness to it. And then we talked about
the amount of freshmen we have and how important
they’re going to be on this team, and they welcomed
them with open arms because I don’t know when they
were freshmen that they were treated the same way,
and I think they had an idea, when we’re seniors we’re
not going to be like that. We’re going to take them in
and we’re going to teach them and we’re going to love
on them and we’re going to make them feel welcome
and a part of this team, and they knew that they
needed to because they’re good. They’re very
talented, and we needed them in the lineup.
It was such an important part of our success. The
seniors owned this team. They did it right, from Paris
Townsend helping us get involved as a team, and Erin
and Kady, Kelsey Stevens, Tori Nirschl, they all kind of
bonded together and said, let’s see what we can do
with this group and leave a legacy and teach them the
right way, and we would not be here without them
doing that, no question.
ERIN MILLER: I think as a senior class, what we
wanted to do was create a new atmosphere, and no
matter what the outcome was going to be at the end of
the year, we wanted this team to know that this is how
a team is supposed to feel, especially with this young
class. We knew they were going to be imperative to
our success, so bringing them in and making them feel
like a part of this group as soon as we could was our
ultimate goal.
I think obviously a championship is the icing on the
cake, but our goal was really to create a new tradition
of this is how Sooner softball lives. We’re a unit. We
live and die together, and I think we succeeded with
that.
Q. Erin, I just want to ask, against Kansas, your last
loss before this series, you said it was laborsome.
I think everybody watches you now and doesn’t
feel that way about this team. What changed?
What did you guys do to make it more fun, make it
more enjoyable to be out there on the field?
ERIN MILLER: I think this whole year we’ve really
focused on letting our personalities shine, having fun,
playing loose, playing free (laughter), so I think that has
really been something that we’ve clung to was just
being ourselves no matter what the situation is. That
was really the talk before this game was don’t change
who you are; that’s how we got to this point. We went
back there, and I think that’s just who we are. That’s
how this team lives.
Q. Lea, nobody knows about a pitching
performance better than the catcher, so if you
could take us through Paige’s performance today,
and if you could take us through the RBI single,
that would be great.
LEA WODACH: Yeah, Paige (Parker), just from
Monday to now just watching film, we worked a lot with
Coach Lombardi, us and the pitching staff and broke
down their swings just from Monday to today. We
spent several hours doing that, and I think we made a
few adjustments here and there and she was
incredible. I think Paige could admit her changeup, it
wasn’t working for the past couple of games. We’ve
been struggling with it. A couple of different things, we
looked at it, figured it out, and I think that was a big
difference in today’s game. But yeah, she was just
nailing every spot tonight. She had a lot of tight spin,
hitting the corners, working with the umpire. I can’t say
enough about how well she did and how she stepped
up, and I know someone commented earlier about how
she went to another level with the last 12 batters.
Absolutely, she didn’t miss. Everything she threw was
on point. We had a purpose with every pitch. Going
into every batter, she knew I’m going to get this one
and we knew how we were going to go at it, and I think
she did an awesome job of executing the plan, and
hats off to Coach Lombardi, as well, for helping with
that.
FALE AVIU: I think when I was going up there, I was
thinking just get a base hit, just get on. We had two
outs and I got the base hit. I ran it out (laughter),
second time, not once but twice. Yeah, I was just trying
to beat it out for my teammates and just give it all I had.
If I fall, I fall, we still score. So yeah.
Q. Fale and Shay, it’s not long ago you guys were
playing travel ball and were finishing up your high
school careers. What has the last year of your
lives been like culminating with this tonight?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: Well, for me and Fale (Aviu), we
were on, I guess, rival travel ball teams, and we all
know how that one turned out. But to be Fale’s
teammate, it’s incredible. I think for both of us, this
year has turned our worlds around. We see a whole
new light. We see what
Rev #1 by #166 at 2016-06-09 02:49:00 GMT page 4 of 5
family and what team really means to us, and I couldn’t
thank Fale enough for being there for me, making me
laugh, being one of my dance partners along with Erin
Miller here. It’s fun, and Fale is a competitor, and I love
being her teammate.
FALE AVIU: Yeah, in travel ball it was always me and
Shay (Knighten) going at it on two rival teams, and just
in high school and pushing and everything, like
through travel ball it was always me against Shay, me
against Shay, and then finally coming together on the
same team with Syd (Romero) on the same team, she
was on my team, too, and finally going all together, it
was such a fun experience. And dancing together
now with Erin (Miller) and CC (Caleigh Clifton) and
Shay, it’s just a fun experience, fun to be around.
Q. Auburn coach Clint Myers said after the first win
that they were trying to prove they belong with
teams like Oklahoma, Arizona, Alabama. Can you
say they’ve arrived? Will they be a team that’s
going to be here annually?
PATTY GASSO: Absolutely. Absolutely. They’re good.
They’re good. They’re well-coached. They’re good
athletes. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. It was a
little uncharacteristic, I think, some of the things that
were going on. But on a big stage like that, sometimes
when you want something so bad, mistakes can
happen.
But you have to have a masterful performance like
Paige (Parker) had to beat a team like that. And their
pitching staff is good. They did a good job. They
earned every right to be in this game. They made us
have to go to another level to beat them. They were
intense games, hard-fought, very even teams. Same
kind of style, we both do have the same kind of style.
So yeah, I absolutely expect Auburn will be around for
a long time.
Rev

6-9-2016 Romero Schutt National Player of Year

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Michigan senior Sierra Romero has been named the inaugural Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Player of the Year, announced the Association on Thursday afternoon.

A four-time NFCA All-American, including three first-team nods, Romero is the first player in NCAA softball history to enter the 300-300-300 club with 302 runs, 305 RBI and 302 hits. Romero has scored more runs and hit more grand slams (11) than any player in NCAA Division I history and finished fourth all-time with a .882 slugging percentage and eighth with 82 home runs.

The Murrieta, Calif. native was named the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and a nominee for the Honda Sports award. She ranked among national leaders with a .451 batting average (13th), .883 slugging percentage (6th), .577 on-base percentage (6th), 79 RBI (3rd), 1.32 RBI per game (3rd), 76 runs (t-2nd), 1.29 runs per game (3rd) and 19 home runs (t-12th).

Finishing a tremendous collegiate career, Romero contributed to a Wolverine senior class that posted a sterling 210-43 record, won four Big Ten titles and made three WCWS appearances over the last four seasons.

The award was voted on by the members of the NFCA’s Division I All-American and Coaching Staff of the Year Committee.