2015 WCWS Championship Final Game 2 “Quotes and Notes”
Michigan 1, Florida 0
An Interview With: COACH CAROL HUTCHINS, SIERRA ROMERO, ABBY RAMIREZ, HAYLIE WAGNER
THE MODERATOR: At this time we're joined by Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins, student-athlete Sierra Romero, student-athlete Abby Ramirez and student-athlete Haylie Wagner. Coach, general comments about the game.
COACH HUTCHINS: What a game. You know, what a game. We didn't get very many runs. But you only have to get one more than the other team. I have to tell you, when it's a 1-0 game against Florida, we played outstanding defense. I saw one of my coaching buddies, Sharon Drysdale, in the '70s and '80s. I said this is old school softball — not a lot of runs scored. But it was a lot of defense. Defense starts on the mound. Haylie Wagner was just one-pitch focused, one-pitch focus, and I could not be prouder of her effort. My whole team's effort. We rebounded from last night. They got it together, our leadership got them together, and they came out here and they just played Michigan softball. Had great enthusiasm and they had great heart.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Sierra, can you just talk about coming into this game, you and the rest of the leaders, what were you trying to get across to the team trying to forget last night and just get ready for tonight?
SIERRA ROMERO: Once that game was over we completely forgot about it. We put it past us. And we knew that they had to beat us one more time. We were just going to make sure we came out playing Michigan softball, and do that from the get-go.
Q. Haylie, how tough was it to keep this Gator lineup to zero runs?
HAYLIE WAGNER: They're a tough lineup. They came out swinging, I knew it was going to be tough. But I just went out there attacked them, and I wasn't going to let them beat me.
Q. Haylie, after yesterday, there was a lot of emphasize on energy. How did you maintain that energy with only one run cushion?
HAYLIE WAGNER: How could I not have energy being here? I'm in OKC and I get to play for Michigan one more time. That's what has my energy, and I get to be here with my team.
Q. Carol, you talked about defense. Can you talk about Abby (Ramirez)'s contribution tonight, double play, and she also stopped that ball from going out of the infield that could have scored (Lauren) Haeger?
COACH HUTCHINS: We've been talking about Abby's defense all year. She's done an outstanding job at shortstop all year long. She's just made the plays for us. Haylie (Wagner) is a contact pitcher. So you've got have a good middle infield behind her, and she certainly has a great one.
Q. Coach, you have one game left to define this season. Is there an advantage to you that you've been stressing that type of mentality, taking it one pitch and one game at a time all year?
COACH HUTCHINS: I can guarantee you that one game is not going to define our season. We've been defining it all year. And you ask me what I want this team to be remembered, I want to be remembered as a great Michigan team that played for Michigan and played for each other. This team's doing that, and it's all I can ask. Everything else will take care of itself.
Q. Haylie, for you, how much of a relief was it to get Haeger to pop out late in the game, knowing you hopefully and likely weren't going to have to face her again?
HAYLIE WAGNER: I mean, I just went after her. I attacked her, and I was going to find a way to get her out. And I was going to jam her up, I was going to throw my change-up, I was going to go outside. I was going to whatever I can, and when I got her I was pumped and I was excited. That wasn't going to stop me for the rest of the game.
Q. How evenly matched are these two teams?
COACH HUTCHINS: It's the World Series, everybody's evenly matched. Some teams might be better at one thing, some teams might be better at another thing. But I think we're both very good teams, and we both have good offense. We both have good pitching. We both have good defense. And, honestly, the game will be what the game will be. If we can stay one-pitch focused we have a chance.
Q. Abby and Sierra, you played behind Haylie and you know better than anybody what she gives the team. If you could both talk about what she gives your team when she's in the circle.
SIERRA ROMERO: Well, one thing is confidence. When she stepped up on that mound today there was no doubt in my mind she was there to get the job done. And playing behind someone who is up there, you know, ready to attack, attack every batter is awesome. Just knowing that they're not going to give up, that helps your defense so much, because they have confidence in you and we just assure her every inning that we have her back.
ABBY RAMIREZ: I definitely say determination, because she went out there tonight and she attacked them and she wasn't going to let anything get in her way and that just makes everyone else feel so much more comfortable and have so much trust in her. When we trust in her, it's so much easier for us to do our part to help her out.
Q. Haylie, talk about having them behind you and also what you thought you did particularly well tonight?
HAYLIE WAGNER: I mean having my entire defense behind me. I trust and believe in them no matter what. I'm a contact pitcher, and that's true. And I know that if I just make them put it in play that my defense is going to have my back the entire time. Today I went after them. I wasn't going to let them get in my way, and I was making the ball spin and doing what I can.
Q. Your voice is a little hoarse. The play with Sierra was, what did you make of that play at third?
COACH HUTCHINS: She's being aggressive and she's been aggressive all year for us. So when you're aggressive like that sometimes you're going to be out. I certainly didn't want to be out at third base on that play. It's just the way it happened and sometimes you live and die by your philosophy.
Q. Did you think it was obstruction?
COACH HUTCHINS: I'm not the umpire.
Q. You have success with Haylie. Should we expect to see her on the mound tomorrow night?
COACH HUTCHINS: I think we will definitely do everything we can to win tomorrow night.
Q. It's a winner-take-all game tomorrow. What's going to be the mood and attitude of the team heading into tomorrow's game?
HAYLIE WAGNER: I mean, this is the last game. This is what we've been working for all year. And if we were excited today, we're going to be even more excited tomorrow and we're just going to come out play Michigan softball and we're going to have fun and attack and do what we do.
ABBY RAMIREZ: Like Haylie (Wagner) said, we're going to attack, we're going to go out there and not make it bigger than any other game, but also we're just going to play with a lot of heart and never give up.
SIERRA ROMERO: Like what they said just it's another game. If we go out there and play Michigan softball we'll be just fine.
Q. Sierra, you mentioned that last night you forgot about last night's game. How tough is it the way it ended with you on third base, a chance to score, you didn't go. Was it hard to get to sleep? Did you beat yourself up or how do you get rid of that so quickly?
SIERRA ROMERO: We weren't out of it. You know, everyone can have their opinion whether I should have gone or not, but I was the only one in that game at that moment. I made a decision I made. I don't think it affected us. We won today, right?
Q. Haylie, you call your own game and now because you can do that, how does that affect momentum in terms of the flow you can get going on? Do you start going faster because of that, do you know?
HAYLIE WAGNER: I don't think I go any faster. It gives me time to not get distracted by the fans or anything else. I have to think about what pitch I want to throw next. And sometimes Jen Brundage, she gives Lauren (Sweet) a sign what she thinks I should throw, and I decide if I want to throw it or not. I just go out there and keep my rhythm and go after them.
Q. How long have you been doing that?
COACH HUTCHINS: Since the Minnesota series.
Q. Players, what was different in your guys' approach and mentality for today's game versus how before you were feeling before yesterday's Game 1?
SIERRA ROMERO: It started with C-Lo (Sierra Lawrence). The second she got in the box, she came out swinging and that's what we needed. We needed to attack from the get-go, and that's what we did. And even if it didn't go our way we were just going to keep taking our hacks, because once we stop swinging we can't do anything.
ABBY RAMIREZ: I think we always prepare the same. We never prepare any differently. But I think today we just had a lot more energy from the get-go, and we didn't wait and we didn't hold back at all. So I think we just like put it all out there from the beginning.
HAYLIE WAGNER: I think they said it all. It starts with the first pitch, and we go out there and we attack and our energy was up, and C-Lo (Sierra Lawrence) got us going with the bats, and she's the spark of our team. She's up there and ready to go, and it just carries on with our team.
Q. Sierra, for those of us that haven't seen you play live until you got here tell us the story behind your eye black. It's fairly pronounced?
SIERRA ROMERO: I don't even know. I think it looks cool. I don't know. I am very superstitious. You can ask Megan (Betsa) about this. Whatever type eye black she does, whether it's two stripes or three stripes or none, I do whatever she does. It's just how I am and what I'll continue to do.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An Interview With: COACH TIM WALTON, TAYLORE FULLER, LAUREN HAEGER
THE MODERATOR: At this time we have Florida head coach Tim Walton, student-athlete Taylore Fuller and student-athlete Lauren Haeger. Coach, general comments about the game.
COACH WALTON: First of all, congratulations to Michigan. I thought they played a really good defensive game. Haylie Wagner pitched a really good one. And I thought their intensity right from pitch one was good, just a good softball game. Obviously we came up on the short end of the stick with the runs but good softball play, some good defense all the way around. I know Michigan wants more hits. And four was enough to win for them. But overall it's a game of find a way to get runners in scoring position. We weren't able to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Taylore, when you hit that line drive, did you think you had gotten enough of it to get it over her head?
TAYLORE FULLER: I mean, Jess did a good job reading it. You can never know what's going through a runner's mind. My job was to hit the ball. Her job was to run. Obviously I can't say she did the wrong thing because that's my teammate. I'm not going to throw her under the bus. I thought she did it correctly. I did my job. She did hers. We just couldn't get it all the way through.
Q. Lauren, how frustrating was it to keep shutting them down, not being able to get runs? It's been a long time since you guys felt this feeling of losing a game in the postseason.
LAUREN HAEGER: I mean, I didn't have my best either. She's a good pitcher. Credit to her. She did a great job. I was trying to go out there, throw up zeros, give my team a chance to win. That's what my play has been this whole entire season, is just give my team a chance to win. I thought I did a good job. I thought my hitters did a decent job too of getting on base.
Q. Tim, what did you see from Haylie that was causing so much problems with the offense?
COACH WALTON: I think, you know, I think the same old same old, our swings might be a little bit long especially this time of year. Didn't look — we didn't have as much velocity in their movement. Getting on our hands. And getting on that many hands tells you a lot about the pitcher. If it was just one batter over and over again, I could say, well, that one batter wasn't seeing the ball very well. But I thought overall she was doing a good job, threw enough change-ups. Threw a couple of rise balls just to keep us honest. But overall I just thought — I think the best description of it she throws a really heavy ball. It's hard to leverage and we weren't able to get any leverage.
Q. Players, how evenly matched are these two teams?
LAUREN HAEGER: Great. They have a great pitching staff. They have really great hitters. I think that today was just a pitcher's duel. And I mean credit to her, she did a really good job on both sides. Honestly, we had runners in scoring position. They did, too. They just got the hit when they needed it.
TAYLORE FULLER: I mean, we're both in the national championship for a reason. These are the two best teams in the country. We're going to go out and compete with each other. They just came out on top today.
Q. Coach, the home team has won both games so far. Is that something that you're looking forward to having on your side going into the final game, and is that something you really put a whole lot of stock in?
COACH WALTON: Yeah, I think you can. If you can come out and shut them out in the first inning, I think you can gain that momentum of the game knowing you have the last at-bat to play with, I guess you can say. It changes your perspective a little bit. I don't know Coach Hutch's philosophy, but I know for me, I don't like to bunt to tie a whole, whole lot. I think that does help you being the home team where you can bunt to tie as the home team but maybe not as much as visitors.
Q. Tim, you talk a lot about how when you fall behind it changes your swings. Did you see that today or was it just a matter of not being able to get a ball to drop or get the big hit?
COACH WALTON: Yeah, I think a little bit. If we hadn't gone three and a third innings yesterday and the same result, I would say the score dictated that. But the swings looked pretty similar yesterday with a 3-0 lead as opposed to today being down 0-1. I think it's her. We struggled with her twice this season. We were able to generate enough offense in Game 1 when we beat them 2-1, and Game 2 we got some hit-by-pitches and some walks and followed by a couple of clutch hits. Today we had six hits and zero clutch hits.
Q. Coach, Bailey Castro has been in a slump. What have you been telling her to keep her motivated when she gets up to the plate?
COACH WALTON: Yeah, it's hard. I think my heart feels for her the most. She's playing injured right now and trying to do her best. And it's very obvious. I was ready to pinch-hit for her in the seventh inning. And I just went with on-base percentage, to be honest with you. She has the highest on-base percentage on the team. I didn't want to pinch-hit for her with somebody that — I was just hoping she could find a way to get on base, no matter what it took. I know she's probably 0 for her last 21 or so. And at the end of the day she's still got a good on-base percentage, 0 for 21. We're just trying to play percentages.
Q. Can you talk about the position that you're in in terms of your pitchers? She didn't throw very many pitches today. You have a couple of pitchers that proved themselves yesterday. What position are you in heading into tomorrow in that way?
COACH WALTON: I think both clubs are in a good position. They can go back at us with (Haylie) Wagner tomorrow, feeling good, and living off the momentum. Or they'll go back to (Megan) Betsa, who has had a good season as well. I think we're both in good position. I guarantee you, however many pitchers they have on their team, however many pitchers we have on our team, tomorrow you're going to see them all no matter what it takes to find a way to get a W.
Q. Lauren and Taylore, you're going to wake up tomorrow, one game, season's over. How are you going to look at the day, how do you see tomorrow kind of unfolding before you even get to the ballpark?
LAUREN HAEGER: I think it's going to be a little different for me. Try to be, do what I do every day, but be a little more competitive. I obviously want to win my last game in a Gator uniform, that means a lot to me. I just want to leave it all out there on the field and not play scared.
TAYLORE FULLER: I mean you'll definitely see different energy. It's more than just the last softball game for us. It's putting the seniors out in the right way. We want to get that win for them. We want to get that win for each other. Because you all don't see how hard we really work. Our coaches see that. Sometimes they don't even see because we work on our own. So we really want to send them out the right way and there will definitely be a different energy.
Q. Lauren, you pitched and started the game last year that clinched the national championship.
What do you take from that experience and how might you be able to use that to your advantage?
LAUREN HAEGER: I think just being there. Today I felt calm and cool. I felt really good out there. I'm just relaxed. It's a different feeling than I had last year, anyway. Last year I was a little nervous, that big stage for the first time. But I felt cool. I felt calm. I'm just going to come out there and be the competitor that everyone knows that I am.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
No. 3 seed Michigan defeated No. 1 seed Florida by a score of 1-0 in the second game of the Championship Series of the 2015 Women’s College World Series to force a decisive game three. The Wolverines improved to 60-7 overall, while the Gators fell to 59-7.
Both programs are in search of their second NCAA Championship title (Florida won in 2014, Michigan in 2005).
All-time at the WCWS, Michigan is now 13-21 in its 11th WCWS appearance (1995, ’96, ’97, ’98, 2001, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’09, ’13, ’15), while Florida fell to 21-12 in its seventh appearance (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14, ’15).
The game marked the first time in four tries this season that Michigan defeated Florida. Florida won the first three matchups by scores of 2-1 (Feb. 6), 7-4 (March 5) and 3-2 in the first game of the championship series.
The 1-0 win was the first such victory in the Championship Series since 2007, when Arizona beat Tennessee by the score in 10 innings.
Total game time was 1:33, the shortest since 2002 when Arizona State beat Michigan by a score of 2-1 in the same amount of time.
Since the Championship Series began in 2005, the winner of game 2 has always won the series. Three times previously the loser of game 1 has gone on to win the title (Michigan in 2005, Arizona in 2007, Alabama in 2012).
The only run of the contest came in the first inning on an RBI single from Michigan junior Kelsey Susalla.
Michigan senior pitcher Haylie Wagner earned the win, moving to 25-2 on the season with the complete-game shutout. She gave up six hits, walked no batters and struck out five.
Florida senior pitcher Lauren Haeger fell to 31-2 on the year. In six innings of work, she surrendered one run on four hits and one walk and tallied one strikeout. At the plate, Haeger went 2 for 3.
Game 3 of the WCWS Championship Series will be played at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday to determine the 2015 national champion.
Attendance for the game was 8,254, bringing the cumulative total for the event to 70,398, the third highest total all-time.
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