2015 WCWS Game 9 “Quotes and Notes”
Auburn 11, UCLA 10
An Interview With: COACH CLINT MYERS, CARLEE WALLACE, BRANNDI MELERO, MORGAN ESTELL
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Auburn University head coach Clint Myers, student-athlete Carlee Wallace and student-athlete Branndi Melero. Coach, opening statements.
COACH MYERS: It was a long game. There's so many things that could be said but I'm extremely proud of the fight. And they never quit. We beat a very, very talented well-coached team from UCLA. But it was like these kids were not going to be denied. They came here for a reason. They came here to win. We talked about it earlier. By golly, they are. I'm very proud of them. Let's go for questions.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.
Q. Was this sort of an untypical type of game for you guys, the fact that there were some errors on the field, base running errors, but you still found a way to win the game?
COACH MYERS: Well put. Yes. Our strength has been our defense and our pitching has really pitched well. And we were a little shaky out there. And one of the things we pride ourselves on is our base running. When it came down to it, this team figured out a way to win. And like Corey (Myers) says all the time, you just have to be one run better. And tonight we were. It wasn't pretty. But it's still a win and we're coming back to play tomorrow.
Q. Branndi, you guys played 17 innings today. You're going to have to play two games tomorrow to advance. Do you guys have enough left to finish this out?
BRANNDI MELERO: Yes, sir. We prepared for this stuff in the fall. And we worked very hard, and we ran a lot to play long games like this. And I feel like we always play long games. Two games ain't nothing.
Q. Morgan, when you're in that situation with the bases loaded and every competitor there wants to get that game-winning hit, to have that walk-off, how much patience do you need to, know she's been having control issues, to just sit it out and wait and know that a walk is as good as a hit at that point?
MORGAN ESTELL: I don't think when I got up there, it wasn't the situation I was worried about. All I was worried about was getting a good pitch and drive the ball down, hit a ground ball. Never got a pitch to do that. So, I mean, it was hard to be patient because like you said, you want to get up there and hit but the walk is as good as a hit at that point.
Q. All three of you, they scored five runnings in the third inning there and they've got all the momentum. I saw you all meet with the coach during that time. Just talk about how you felt at that point and if you were shaken by that at all.
BRANNDI MELERO: A little bit because I accidentally whacked Morgan (Estell) in the nose trying to tell her to come talk to Coach. But all he told us was all we need is outs. Just go out there and get outs. And I feel like we did just that.
Q. Talk about coming back the way you did scoring six runs.
MORGAN ESTELL: I was never worried because we like to do that. I don't know why we like to do that. But we like a challenge and it just takes one quality at-bat after another. You can't get up there and swing for the fence and nobody on base. That's not going to help us. It just takes walks, hit by pitch, bunt, hit, anything.
CARLEE WALLACE: This team wants to fight for sure. Doesn't matter — we tend to do better when our back's against the wall. It would be better for coach and his health if we didn't do that, but that's just the way the team is wired. When there's a call, we answer. And I think that's the best part about this team.
Q. You guys have been in these games before, these wild games, Lafayette. Does that factor into these kind of moments? Are you used to this kind of feel?
CARLEE WALLACE: To me, it's just another day at the office. I mean, I know that the emotions may run high, but we have a great coaching staff that has taught us how to control our emotions, control the situation, stay in the moment. So for me, I just think we take it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, and I think it doesn't affect us at all. I think we're very well trained in that aspect.
BRANNDI MELERO: I agree with what she just said.
Q. Clint, this team, this is the first time ever been to the College World Series and you get down by five, then you have the home run in the seventh inning. What does it say about the maturity of this team that they were able to keep coming back, even though they don't have any experience here in this sort of setting?
COACH MYERS: It does say that they are maturing. And they're maturing very quickly. You saw the determination. You saw the grit that they had. They grinded it out. We've been here since 9:00 this morning. And it's 13 hours. And I don't know about them, but I'm damn tired. And to go out there and perform, I didn't hear one person bitch or moan about being tired. The only thing they talked about was, hey, we gotta win, we gotta win. So I think that the maturity level is happening at an accelerated rate. The first game, second game we really said we didn't have some experience. But you look at the quality of games that we've played today alone, I mean, I think that they're ready. I mean, tomorrow's another day and we're going to be playing another quality team, but there's nothing about this team that surprises me anymore, because they are — they're here to win.
Q. Have you ever been in a game like this before? And if not, I guess where does this rank at least as far as some of your more dramatic games that you've played in?
MORGAN ESTELL: I think this is the most dramatic I've ever been in, just because of we're at the Women's College World Series. There's games that we were down by five against Alabama and down by five against ULL with two outs and came back and tied it. So it's up there with those. But for me, by far, the most emotionally and physically draining.
BRANNDI MELERO: It was a very intense game. But like Morgan (Estell) said before, for some reason, we like to play these type of games. But just going into it, maybe tomorrow we can score our runs and then play seven innings and then that be it and then move on to the next.
CARLEE WALLACE: I would definitely say being a freshman, I've never experienced anything like this before. So I think it's been an awesome ride so far, and it's just been an honor to be part of this. And I think that this is definitely the most dramatic game I've been a part of so far.
Q. Branndi, could you talk about your home run? And, Morgan, could you talk about finally getting to play the Gators?
BRANNDI MELERO: I mean, the coach preaches it all the time, the home run is a byproduct of a good swing and a good pitch, and I feel I did exactly that. It's the situation that I got put in. I wasn't going up there looking for a home run. Just barrelling something, continue to get base hits, move people over as I've been doing the whole game. So the fact that it happened, it's just a bonus.
MORGAN ESTELL: They're a great team, but we're just going to focus on playing the game and just do what we can do, control what we can control, and then let the outcome dictate if we play a second game.
Q. Carlee, did you eat your Wheaties today? Because you just had a game that — whatever you ate today, are you going to eat it again tomorrow?
CARLEE WALLACE: I think I'll stick with whatever I did today. I will.
Q. Was there a good feeling today? Did you see the ball well? Talk about your day today because it's probably one of the best you've had this season.
CARLEE WALLACE: I think I kind of threw out the window all the things I can't control and just go out there and let's play some ball. Really, there's nothing that we have to lose. There's nothing we have to prove, just go out there and play some ball and have some fun, because that's what it is. It's a game.
Q. Branndi, I'm curious. It's funny, as this game was going on, the media were like, oh, wow, that's going to be the big play. And you had that home run. That was a pretty big moment. It's kind of forgotten. This could have been your last — I think you had a two-run single earlier, walked three times. This could have been your last game. So it's a cliche question, but just how great does it feel to know that you went out guns ablazing tonight and really helped your team persevere?
BRANNDI MELERO: I'm just going out there playing like it's my last game because it could be any minute. But like you said, it's forgotten. And I'm happy that my teammates behind me came up and got big hits. Because it was obvious they weren't going to throw to me again. So the fact that I can have 25 girls behind me that can go in and get the job done is exactly what I want and exactly the type of team I want to be on.
Q. In that situation, do you feel you're pressing or you're totally calm?
BRANNDI MELERO: I'm not pressed at all. I feel like I've been the most confident I've been all year, being here. It's nothing new to me. I've been on this field before. But like I said, the fact that it could be my last game is probably what's in my head. But it's not going to press me or it's not going to stress me at all. Just makes me want to do better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An Interview With: COACH KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ, GABRIELLE MAURICE, MADDY JELENICKI, ALLY CARDA
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez and student-athlete Gabrielle Maurice, student-athlete Maddy Jelenicki, student- athlete Ally Carda.
COACH INOUYE-PEREZ: I'd like to congratulate Auburn on a well-played game. It was a great battle going back and forth, and that's what you would expect here at the College World Series. For my team, I'm walking away very proud of a year that was defined by great athletes, versatile selfless athletes that played and truly had each other's backs and never stopped fighting. That's something that you hope that you can create in a program is to have a culture that is so bought into whatever it takes to win that they will have a lasting memory, this group together. We're led by the senior class. Wouldn't be here without them, and the program will definitely miss them. But I commend, as I just finished talking with my team about that senior class, we wouldn't be here. That mission started a while ago. It's a big burden to take that on. I'm super proud of how they did it. We ended too soon, but I promise you that the UCLA softball program is back and we will be back next year. That mission starts immediately.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Ally, 205 pitches for you, walk in the winning run, just how tough was just that moment for you seeing the winning run go across the plate?
ALLY CARDA: It's tough. Not only is the season lost, but I was more mad that I didn't do it for everyone else. So I was mad at myself for not being able to come up with better pitches. Walking people is not the way to do it in those kind of innings. So more so just mad at myself I didn't get it done for my team.
Q. Can you talk about the game itself, the highs and lows, and have you ever been in a game like this where there was so much drama just throughout the game?
MADDY JELENICKI: There was a lot of ups and downs throughout the game. And I think what kept us is, more than wanting to win the game, just wanting to have another game to play with this group of girls. It was probably one of the tightest group of people I've been on a team with. And when you're down, you just want to get up for the next person or keep going for Ally (Carda) and just get it going for her because she was out there working the whole game.
GABRIELLE MAURICE: You know, I'm happy for our team and our seniors. It's really a group of great girls, and I can't wait to come back next year. I think it just makes us hungrier.
ALLY CARDA: I'm very proud of this team and I think it was a great fight all the way through the end. No, to answer your question, I haven't been in a game like that before, I don't think, at least with that big of a crowd and that intense of moments. So we did lose, but it was fun. It was a great experience for the younger ones. So next year they can get back after it.
Q. Coach, if you can, talk back about when, in your eyes, did this particular team that you saw a change was coming to get to this point?
COACH INOUYE-PEREZ: There were several. I think every season has some defining moments, and one thing they've done, they've been very resilient. They respond to adversity. And that's something that I think is going to allow them to be successful beyond the softball field. But softball doesn't define them. We've had moments throughout the entire year, from fall to preseason, to Pac-12. Even here. And the one thing that they have a defining characteristic trait is they never quit. They don't stop fighting. That is something that will allow them to be successful beyond. I'm super proud of that. I'm very proud of that. Specifically, I mean, I have it all written down in my coaching notebook if you want me to get dates, but there's some specific moments where they've made a decision and they'll have that for the rest of their lives, definitely.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
No. 4 seed Auburn defeated No. 7 seed UCLA by a score of 11-10 in 10 innings in the ninth game of 2015 Women’s College World Series. The Tigers moved to 56-10 overall this season, while the loss ended the Bruins’ season. UCLA finished the year with a record of 51-12.
Auburn advanced to face No. 1 seed Florida at noon CT on Sunday. In order to advance to the championship series, the Tigers will have to register two wins against the Gators.
Auburn is now 2-1 in its first WCWS appearance, while UCLA fell to 91-31 in its 25th WCWS appearance (first since 2010).
In a back-and-forth ball game, the two squads scored a combined 21 runs, second most in WCWS history (behind UCLA and Arizona’s 24 runs in 2010). It also marked the first time both teams scored at least 10 runs in a WCWS contest. In the third inning alone, UCLA and Auburn combined to score 11 runs, with five in the top of the inning and six in the bottom, respectively.
UCLA’s 17 hits tied for second most all-time in a WCWS contest (with Iowa against Michigan in 1995 in a 14 inning game).
The teams’ 26 combined hits were the fourth most ever in the WCWS.
The game ended on a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning to Auburn senior Morgan Estell, which scored Emily Carasone.
Auburn’s Lexi Davis secured the win, improving to 26-2 on the season. She threw 5.1 innings in which she gave up three runs on five hits with three walks and one strikeout. Marcy Harper and Rachael Walters also appeared for the Tigers. Harper surrendered five runs on 10 hits while walking two batters and striking out one, and Walters pitched a third of an inning.
UCLA senior pitcher Ally Carda fell to 32-8 this year. She pitched 8.2 innings, surrendering 10 hits, 10 runs, 12 walks and striking out seven batters. Selina Ta’amilo threw a third of an inning for the Bruins.
UCLA sophomore Gabrielle Maurice sent in the first runs of the contest with a three-run triple in the third, her second triple of the season. Freshman Kylee Perez then added an RBI single, and senior Gracie Goulder scored from third base with a steal.
Auburn responded with six runs of its own in the frame to take the lead. With the bases loaded, sophomore Kasey Cooper drew a walk for the Tigers’ first run. Senior Branndi Melero then recorded an RBI base hit before a wild pitch scored another run. Freshman Carlee Wallace closed with a three-run double.
The third-inning hits from Melero and Wallace were the first two for Auburn with bases loaded in the 2015 NCAA Tournament (now 2 for 19 with bases loaded).
Auburn’s Melero added to her hit total on the night with a three-run shot to left center field in the fifth inning, her first home run since April 26 and 11th of the season. Melero finished the game 3 for 3 from the plate with four RBIs and two runs.
UCLA freshman Maddy Jelenicki’s two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning put the Bruins on top again, 10-9. The home run was her ninth of the season.
Auburn responded with an RBI double from Wallace to tie it in the seventh. UCLA closed the inning with a double play to force extra innings.
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