2015 WCWS Game 2 “Quotes and Notes”
LSU 6, Auburn 1
An Interview With: COACH BETH TORINA, CARLEY HOOVER, BIANKA BELL, KELLSI KLOSS, EMILY GRIGGS
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by LSU head coach Beth Torina, Bianka Bell, Carley Hoover and Kellsi Kloss. Coach, general statements about the game.
COACH TORINA: I think that Auburn played a really good game against us. I think they're a tough team. I think they're going to continue to do well throughout the week. We wish them luck. Our team played a great game. I thought the best thing about the game was it was well pitched, well played, but I liked our team's fight. I thought they scored whether we had two outs or not. They were able to score and answer to Auburn anytime they did something. I thought our team showed a lot of guts and a lot of fight.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. I think you won six straight games in this tournament. Carley has four wins, two saves, could you talk about her rising to the occasion beyond what she did beyond that?
COACH TORINA: I think the bigger the game, the better she pitches. From what we know about her this year, she wants the ball in these situations and she truly thrives in them. So it's a lot of fun having somebody like her on our team and having somebody you know can perform under pressure. I think that's the whole key to this is being able to get it done when the lights are on.
Q. Bianka Bell, your first ever at-bat, home run, can you talk about it?
BIANKA BELL: With two outs just trying to get on base, find my way on, do it with two outs and just hope someone can score me in. I guess I just got all of the ball and it went out but that was really cool, exciting I guess.
Q. Carley, talk about being in the circle today and being able to do what you needed to do every inning?
CARLEY HOOVER: I think what was really cool about today was that I personally didn't feel like I had 100 percent, I was missing a lot of middle. But our defense was so strong. We made amazing plays and our offense rallied. It always helps when we score first. Bianka's home run — I think it's an overall good team win and like I said really strong defense.
Q. For those who haven't seen LSU before, they seem to have an excitable bench, a lot going on during the game. Can you talk about what's taking place on the bench with maybe some of the masks or whatever is happening and just talk about how that helps I guess the team rally?
EMILY GRIGGS: I think the main thing on this team is everybody knows that they have a part in everything that we do. So whether you're playing shortstop or you're on the bench, we need every single person. So just everybody being 100 percent, like diving into the game and giving their all, all their energy for us. I think that really helps our energy.
KELLSI KLOSS: I think it's cool to see our personalities come out during the game. I think that stuff is good to keep us loose and just reminds us that it's a game. If we're not enjoying having fun, then we're not going to play as good. We have crazy stuff like masks and horse heads and we got a fish named Juanita for the trip. It's stuff to keep us loose. Coach says we always play better when we're loose like that.
CARLEY HOOVER: I think we really scrape and fight for every single run. Every single run matters whether it's a home run or whether it's a grand slam, they're all exciting and you can't be crazy.
BIANKA BELL: Like she said, our motto is can't be crazy. It just keeps the game fun for us. Nobody likes to press and be tight the entire game. By using the mask and having the new fish that we just got just makes it light and it keeps it fun for us.
COACH TORINA: I don't know about the fish. I like personalities. I think there's nothing like the dynamic of a team. It's so cool to be a part of a team. It's something that's indescribable if you've never been a part of it. It's something that I enjoy. I think all their individual personalities truly make us who we are. I encourage personalities. There's some things we're really uniform about. There's some standards that we uphold and every single girl on the team upholds those, but for the most part who they are as people is what makes us LSU. So I love that side of them. Maybe they do get a little crazy at times and they have to rein them back in but I'd much rather that than the other way.
Q. Bianka, where did the fish come from?
BIANKA BELL: I don't know, we went to Wal-Mart when we got here, and she's, like, go get snacks. And me and Allie (Walljasper) just got a fish instead. (Laughter).
COACH TORINA: I was not on this trip. I was at the administrative meeting, just for the record.
Q. Kellsi, what do you feed the fish, and who is responsible for that?
KELLSI KLOSS: Bianka told me you only feed them once a month. So this particular fish you only need to feed them once a month. But we got her a home and some pebbles and some nice plants to swim through, so she's well taken care of.
BIANKA BELL: I Googled it. So… Wikipedia is promising, so I hope she'll live through the week.
Q. Kellsi, can you talk about your home run that went out of the park and hit the foul pole?
KELLSI KLOSS: I mean, I wasn't trying to do anything too big, I was just trying to make an adjustment for my last at-bat and try to get a little more on top of the ball. And I put a good swing on it. And I stayed inside it enough to hit the pole and it's really exciting. It kind of got me just a little more comfortable and in my zone, and I think that just set a good tone for the rest of the day and my team fed off of it which is really cool.
Q. Were you wondering, did it appear foul?
KELLSI KLOSS: I knew it had the distance to go out, but I was kind of willing it to go fair. So, it was a really good feeling when I saw it hit the pole.
Q. Beth, you've seen A.J. (Andrews) make a lot of great plays over her career. Where does the one she made in center rank?
COACH TORINA: I think it's right there with so many others she made. It's almost like we don't have to watch her make the catch because we know as soon as she's out there she's going to make it. She's such a spectacular defensive player. She dives as well as any player I've seen. Looked like she almost broke her wrist on the play it got caught. And you know what I thought? She would have broken her wrist to catch that ball. Because that's who she is. She's our leader. She'll do anything it takes to catch any ball that we need her to. She'll run through a wall. She'll do whatever it takes. She's our senior, our leader. She wants it as much as anybody for sure.
Q. Coach, getting on Marcy Harper as good as you guys did. She had a good game against you guys during the series you had against them. How much was that important and how much you guys broke her down to be able to jump on her like that?
COACH TORINA: She's been so good for them lately. I think she has been a huge reason for a lot of their success lately. She's thrown so well for them. So we definitely had a good plan, I think, for her going into it because we had to, because she's really talented and has done really well. We were able to get to her a little bit on Sunday in the series so we came in with that same idea. And we were lucky we got a few things to go our way today for sure. If somebody got the breaks today we got them. We had everything fall in that possibly could, I thought, on the day. And she's a great pitcher, has done a lot for Auburn here in the last few weeks.
Q. Kellsi, I just remember how excited you were last week going into the Super Regional and having a chance to make it to the women's College World Series. Just talk about that excitement and also channeling that in the right way to produce the victory?
KELLSI KLOSS: I mean, this is something I've dreamed of attending my entire life. As a little girl this is what you play for. This is the moment you live for your entire softball career. And to get here, it was a complete dream come true for me. I didn't even believe it an hour after we won to get into the World Series I was still in disbelief. But just getting here you have to take it all in for a second but then you remember it's the game you've played your entire life. There's nothing new, nothing changes. Coach said it's the same, 60 feet to each base and 43 feet to the mound. I gave myself a minute to enjoy it and then I focused in and I acted like it was just another game.
Q. The two-out hitting, the clutch hitting, what did that mean to you? I think your first five runs all came with two outs.
COACH TORINA: I thought they did a good job of having the same at-bats, whether it was no outs or two outs. I thought they did a good job of just having quality at-bats and not necessarily worrying about the situation, just looking for the right pitch, staying in the plan, trusting Coach (Howard) Dobson's plan and then going out and getting it done. I thought that was really good they just continued to keep the same mentality and continued to fight.
Q. Coach, this Auburn team last week played your in-state rival, correct, and the end of the game that one game was pretty crazy where they lost the lead. My question is regarding freshmen stepping into your sport and being able to perform at a high level. I talked to Jenna Lilley from Oregon and obviously Carley Hoover, do you feel it's something particular to the sport of softball? A lot of time freshmen don't play, they redshirt. Do you think that's a testament to club softball, or is it more to the individual? I don't know if you give much thought to it. And specifically with Carley, how she's been able to — she didn't walk anybody, didn't hit any batters today, and that's huge to closing it out.
COACH TORINA: I think the freshmen we have on our team are spectacular. I think they've been battle tested before they even got to LSU. I think they've been coached very well throughout their lives, played in some big stages already. They've played for great travel coaches and have really understood the game throughout their life. So it makes my job as a coach a lot easier. I think both Allie (Walljasper), Carley (Hoover) and Emily (Griggs) have all been challenged and play. They've been playing against these same kids on this field against us for their whole lives. So I don't think it makes it that much different for them once they get here, different colors, uniforms, added pressure. I've watched these guys play under pressure for a long time. I already knew they were capable of doing the things they were doing here today.
Q. Beth, on the same lines, but what has allowed Carley, you talk about her being somebody who wants the ball in these kind of games, if you go back to fall ball or the first few weeks of the season, what separated her at that point in time from being able to throw this kind of game?
COACH TORINA: I think she's just continued to grow throughout the year. I think she's continued to get better and better. And she's not the same pitcher today that she was when we started in February. And she definitely is not the same pitcher she was in the fall. The one thing she's always had, though, is what's inside of her. She'll try to beat you, if we're walking from the dugout to the fence, or whatever we're trying to do, she'll try to win. She's one of the most competitive people I've been around. She's always had that. She's worked really hard on some things mechanically, doing some things better, making some adjustments. I mean, the way we call the game for her now, it's not even close to the way we called the game for her early in the season. She's grown so much. She's able to mix pitches, mix speeds, do things so much better than where we were early. And I think that's a huge reason for this late success, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An Interview with: COACH CLINT MYERS, BRANNDI MELERO, KASEY COOPER, RACHAEL WALTERS, MORGAN ESTELL
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Auburn University Head Coach Clint Myers, student-athlete Branndi Melero, Kasey Cooper, Rachael Walters and Morgan Estell.
COACH MYERS: We're still in this. We talked about it as a team. We played a very good LSU team. The difference as I see it is that with two outs, they got key hits and we had opportunities. Again, we didn't do it. But we hit a lot more balls hard. We had a lot more quality at-bats. I thought our pitching was good. We made two mistakes. And the balls that they hit for home runs, those weren't pitches that were down the middle. One was in her eyes that she tomahawked down the line, and the other was a great change. I have no problem with those pitches. The key things is it's just handling the ball. And we gave them an extra opportunity. But I like the way we finished. I thought we gained some momentum for our game on Saturday. We know who we play. It's not like we haven't seen them. It's the same team we played in the SEC championship. So it's going to be a great softball game. I like our chances, and I think we're moving in the right direction.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. For any of the players who want to answer, were there any jitters, or did you guys feel calm, or did it take a little bit to get over the stage for any of you?
KASEY COOPER: I don't think there were any jitters. It's just another ballgame. Yes, it's the College World Series, but I don't think that any of us were nervous or played tight. You saw that was evident after we saw her one time around. We started hitting the ball more hard and had better quality at-bats. I don't think there were jitters at all. I thought it was just another ballgame and another field we were trying to get used to.
MORGAN ESTELL: I agree with Kasey (Cooper). I don't think there were any jitters. We had quality at-
bats. We hit hard balls right at people, and they had good hits with two outs, like coach said, and we couldn't string enough hits together.
RACHAEL WALTERS: I agree with both of my teammates. I don't think there were any jitters. Kind of helped that we played an SEC team that we've already played before, I think. And we just came out ready — well, ready to play. The odds didn't really go in our favor today. But I don't really think we were nervous and we're ready to get back at it I guess on Saturday.
BRANNDI MELERO: We prepare for stuff like this. Coach has worked us really hard, and they prepared us and told us that crowd's going to be big, make sure you communicate and everything. So I felt we were prepared coming out here. Like Rachel (Walters) said, the odds weren't in our favor. But it doesn't mean we were done. We're going to come back and continue to win.
Q. Branndi, when you play against the teams that you've seen before in the tournament, five SEC teams, does that make things more comfortable for you, or would you prefer to see other teams? I mean, I guess is it more comfortable to play against teams you've seen before?
BRANNDI MELERO: You always feel comfortable playing against teams you've seen multiple times. You're facing the same pitchers that you face in the SEC Tournament. And I feel like an SEC team playing an SEC team is kind of an upper hand for us. So to us it's just like another game. Like we've done it before, and if we have to continue doing it, then that's what we have to do.
Q. Rachael, looked like you had good stuff out there today and were throwing controlled. Did you feel that way?
RACHAEL WALTERS: Yeah, I felt really comfortable today. Like I said, there weren't many jitters today. I faced the hitters before, so I pretty much know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and I just try to play to that. I just went out there and threw my game. And I thought it went pretty well on defense-wise.
Q. For anybody. You play Tennessee a few weeks ago in a clutch pressure game in the SEC Tournament championship game. Now that you've been here in this atmosphere, how will it be different playing a familiar team at this stage? How is this different, you played these guys three weeks ago, but this is a bigger game, how is it any different?
BRANNDI MELERO: It's not going to be any different. A game is a game. Doesn't matter who is across the dugout from us. We just have to go out there and play Auburn softball.
KASEY COOPER: For us at that point, that was the biggest game we ever played. I think it's the same way. Now we're playing for our lives, our backs are against the wall and we're coming out fighting.
RACHAEL WALTERS: I agree. It's not a bigger game to us because we do this every day. And I mean, yes, that was in the SEC championship, but this is at the World Series. And like Kasey (Cooper) said, we're fighting for our lives. I think that's just the point of view we're going to come out playing for.
MORGAN ESTELL: I agree with everything they say, I'm not going to repeat it.
Q. Kasey, talk about the play on the bunt, the double play, and kind of how disappointing was it that that didn't end up stopping that inning like it would?
KASEY COOPER: Well, Corey (Myers) and Coach really harps on not letting the bunts go down this week. We knew LSU is a speed team. We didn't want that to come into play like the last series we played against LSU. So we really focused on being able, on bunts, to get the outs, and it just so happened that she left it in the air long enough for me to be able to grab it. And then I threw it up to (Emily) Carosone to hopefully make a play, and she did. So it was a little disappointing; however, they came out with two outs and we didn't. So they capitalized.
Q. Coach, with the day off tomorrow, what do you guys focus on, or what do you work on, how do you use the day off to get ready for Saturday now?
COACH MYERS: It's like any other day. We're going to go do our work and we'll let them experience the great city of Oklahoma City here, and do a few things. I mean, there's a lot of the World Series that they haven't experienced yet. They need to so they can see the vast entity that this thing really is. And we'll go and do our daily workout and get our work done so that we're prepared to play Tennessee on Saturday.
Q. You know better than they do what the path is to go from losing the first game to try to fight through four games in two days, if you're successful. How do you prepare for that and yet still take it one at a time?
COACH MYERS: I mean, I think the last team to do it was Florida. And they came back and we played them in the World Series, so it can be done, in the championship series, I'm sorry. It is exactly what you said, it's just one game at a time, and whether we have to play two or three or four, whatever it would be, we came here to play. We came here to prove that we deserve to be here. And we're going to take it one game at a time and we're going to go out there and we're going to keep getting better. And it's just one of those things. You just play one and take a little breather, go eat some dinner, and then come back and play a second one and I'm hoping we're here to play that fourth one you were talking about. Because then that will put us in the championship game. It is just one at a time. But I was proud to how they battled back and the way we finished that. So we can do it.
Q. Coach, you said you like your chances playing against Tennessee. Just what's that matchup like for you?
COACH MYERS: Well, it's just two old guys that will be playing a game of softball. I mean, last time we played it was way past both of our bedtimes. So, Tennessee is a well-coached, well-disciplined team. They know us, we know them, and it's going to come down to simple execution, not beating yourself, taking advantage of mistakes, timely hitting. So those are the things that they preached and we preach. And so it's just which team can go out there and do the things that they prepared for. If we can do that, then I like our chances.
Q. Morgan and Branndi, you both had good solid hits off of Carley Hoover. What was it about the way she was pitching and how were you able to solve her to give your team a chance today?
MORGAN ESTELL: For me, I see a good pitch, hit it, it's not any different, no matter who is pitching, just up there, get down on time and put your barrel on it, and that's all I focus on.
BRANNDI MELERO: I think it was the fact this is the third time we've seen her pitch the whole game, and you go in there and you learn from your mistakes from the last time and you watch film. That's what it comes down to.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
In the first game of the 2015 Women’s College World Series, No. 1 seed Florida defeated No. 8 seed Tennessee, 7-2. Florida improved to 56-6 on the year with the victory while Tennessee fell to 47-16.
With the win, the Gators will next play on Friday at 6 p.m. CT against the winner of No. 4 seed Auburn and No. 5 seed LSU. The Lady Vols will face the Auburn-LSU loser at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday.
Making its seventh WCWS appearance (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14, ‘15), defending national champion Florida improved to 18-11 all-time in the event with its win today. Tennessee dropped to 15-13 all-time in its seventh WCWS appearance (2005, ’06, ’07, ’10, ’12, ’13, ‘15).
Florida senior pitcher Lauren Haeger opened the scoring with a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning. The home run was Haeger’s 17th of the season and the first in her WCWS career. Haeger finished the game 2 for 2 at the plate.
In the circle, Haeger gave up two runs on one hit. She walked no batters and struck out four in seven innings. The 2015 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year improved to 29-1 on the season with the win.
Freshman Gator Kayli Kvistad sent a two-run home run to right center field in the third inning to increase Florida’s lead to 3-0. The home run was Kvistad’s sixth of the season.
Tennessee’s only hit of the contest came from sophomore Megan Geer, who recorded a two-run home run in the fourth inning. The home run, her 14th of the season, was the 100th of the season for the Lady Vols. It also broke Haeger’s streak of 32 consecutive scoreless innings in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee junior pitcher Rainey Gaffin fell to 17-4 on the season with the loss. She surrendered five runs in four innings of work. Gaffin gave up five hits and a walk while striking out two batters. Junior Erin Gabriel pitched two innings for the Lady Vols, giving up two hits, two runs and three walks while striking out three.
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