Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
WCWS Press Conference 1: Carol Hutchins (Michigan) Patrick Murphy (Alabama), Patty Gasso (Oklahoma), Beth Torina (LSU)
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. I want to take this time to welcome everyone to the 2016 Women's College World Series here in Oklahoma City. This will be our first of two press conferences today. The second one will start at 3:30 p.m. instead of 3:00.
All right. Today starting from my right, your left, we have head Coach Carol Hutchins from the University of Michigan, whose team advance out of the Ann Arbor Super Regional and coming into the Women's College World Series with an overall record of 21-5, and making their 12th appearance here in the WCWS.
Next to her, we have Head Coach Beth Torina from LSU, whose team advanced to the Women's College World Series out of the Harrisonburg Super Regional. LSU comes into the Women's College World Series with an overall record of 50-16, and they are making their fifth appearance.
Next to her, we have Head Coach Patty Gasso from the University of Oklahoma whose team advanced out of the Norman Super Regional. They come into the Women's College World Series with an overall record of 51-7, and making their 10th appearance here. And next to her, we have the young Patrick Murphy, from the University of Alabama, whose team advanced out of Tuscaloosa Super Regional and comes into the Women's College World Series with an overall record of 51-12 in their 11th appearance. At this time we'll take general comments from each coach, and then open it up for questions and we'll start with the lovely coach Hutchins.
CAROL HUTCHINS: Congratulations to everybody sitting up here and everybody in the tournament. I'm sure this might be redundant as we all sit up here today, but we are absolutely thrilled to be in Oklahoma City this time of year. I think most telling is if you look at this field and all the great teams and all the great teams that were in the field, and obviously people will talk about the upsets and so forth, but there's just a lot of great teams in college softball, and I think it's really telling where our sport continues to grow. Every year that I've been able to be here we talk about the sport growing. One of the greatest things is that we've had so many great teams set high standards and high bars that it continues to make everybody around them better, and all of the opponents better. So it's been really fun to be a part of all of this.
Our kids are very excited. We had to come out of a really tough Super Regional against a very good Missouri team, and as everybody had to come out of the very tough regionals. The addition of the Super Regionals has been such a love-hate relationship actual ly. The best teams are playing their best softball right now, those are the people sitting up here today. So Michigan, we're excited to be here and looking forward to the week.
BETH TORINA: Before I start, I just want to say I'm really honored to sit on this stage with three Hall of Famers and three people that have built three amazing programs, I think it's a cool opportunity. So my team's thrilled to be here. This is an event that they dream about from when they're a little kid. Somebody asked me if they would rather play professional softball or this, and I said right now this is it for them. This is the moment they've waited for their whole lives.
We're proud to be back the second year. First time to do that in school history in back-to-back years I think, really special, and hopefully shows that we're creating a culture and a program that is something that's really special. This event just amazing to echo what Hutch said, we came from James Madison where the crowds were unreal what they're doing in sports all around this country, I think it was just solidified in my mind that we're getting amazing fan support. Just opportunities for women in this sport is amazing right now. So our team's fought hard in the the Super Regional, they fought with their backs against the wall a lot this year, and I feel like they truly earned the right to be here, and to be among the eight left standing at the end of the year. So thank you so much for hosting us, and we're excited to be part of the field.
PATTY GASSO: For us it's almost a relief to be here because it's hard to live here if you're not in it. You get to read papers and see news, but you're happy for all of those who get to what we call the promised land, to be up here (Patrick Murphy). As Beth says, she is part of this sorority/fraternity of coaches. I'm really thrilled about competing against everyone that is here because we have good history of competition, especially my friend right here. So I guess I would reflect back to thinking that not a lot of people expected us to be here after losing such a big class of veteran seniors. But what made it kind of all clear in my eyes was when we finished at the Super Regional against Lafayette, the Ragin' Cajuns gave us everything and more and made us a better team because of their fight. It was a special Super Regional. It was tough, but it was looking up in the crowd and seeing the fans reaction on both sides makes me probably Hutch, Patrick and others, make me just go, we're arriving, and flourishing and getting out of control with the fan support and interest in this sport.
But listening to Paige Parker, Shay Knighten and Sydney Romero sit at the postgame press conference, and they couldn't even talk because it didn't really register to them that we were going to the World Series. They just kept talking about a dream. This is their dream. They can check it off of their list of goals. It's amazing. They've dreamed about it since they've been a little girl, and as a coach you get so caught up in the moment when you hear your athletes talk like that, you realize that this is something special, so we're honored to be here and congratulate everybody for getting here, because it is so difficult as you watch Super Regionals. And my heart is pumping for all of these teams who are in the same stressful situation that we are.
I was thankful we got to play it early so we could sit back and watch the others stress the way we had to earlier. But it's just a sport I'm so proud to be affiliated with, and I'm just so excited to be a part of it this year.
PATRICK MURPHY: I'd like to say thanks to everybody so far. The banquet last night was awesome. Just a really neat time for our team. I think Patty and I should start a new conference and call it the Big SEC or something like that, because we see each other so much. And this is like, I don't know how many times now we've played each other in the postseason.
But we had five seniors last year. Like Patty, we had a big senior class, and we had a lot of new people step up. Our Regional was tough, and our Super Regional against Washington was even tougher. I know they would have been very, very, very good here. They were a good team. But we're just really happy to be here and can't wait to start playing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Patrick and Patty, can you talk about last year's Super Regional and that special level of competition? That seemed to be — what it took out of each team and what fueled this year from that?
PATTY GASSO: That's my first question (laughing)? I would say that I recognized you too, because I remember you from then. It was probably, if you can't be playing in the College World Series, that's a place you want to be. Although we didn't have a lot of fans for us, we just imagined that the crimson was for us and not against us. But just to be around that setting and passionate fans made us step up. It was a great battle. Paige (Parker) grew up. She turned into a woman. Whether we would have won or lost, it was one of the most valuable things that happened to her and the rest of those who were youngsters.
It made us better. Through losses, we learned how to get better. It hurt like heck, but we learned from it and we persevered from it. That's really what we've done.
Not like I'm looking forward to playing them again as we get started, but at the same time, I know that it's going to be a battle, and this is a team in Alabama that always makes us have to play our best. That's what you want when you're here.
PATRICK MURPHY: For us it was an opportunity for a kid, that was 0-for-13 at the time and she hit the grand slam to win the game. Sorry, but the reaction of her teammates is what was so key for us. Because we try to preach team, team, team, and there is a word we use called “mudita”, and can you be as happy for someone else's success as you can be for yourself? And when that kid hit the home run, Haylie McCleney said she it was her best moment that she's had since she played at Alabama, and she wasn't even on base. So that solidified our culture right then and there when a kid who was 0-for-13 and comes through with a big hit, and her teammates were more happy that she hit it than they hit it.
It was one of those moments where either team could have won easily. She (Patty Gasso) had so many superstars. It was the highest attended and I think highest rated Super Regional of all time. And those games proved it was one of the best of all time.
Q. Coach Hutchins and Coach Torina, you played here last year in the World Series. You both returned almost everybody from that team. How are your teams different and how are they the same from the two teams that met up last year here?
BETH TORINA: Well, we started three freshmen in the final game of the Super Regional, so obviously we were playing some kids that weren't playing last year. I think we took some lumps early in this season, but I think that helped us understand who we are. I think it gave our kids a good idea of their identity and what they're trying to be.
So I definitely think we're different than last year's team. I think this team can win in a lot of different ways. I think they can win by run game, they can win by the long ball, they can win because we threw a shutout. They can win because we scored eight. This team wins in a lot of different ways and they don't have to rely so heavily on a one-dimensional game.
CAROL HUTCHINS: It seems this year every time I do a press conference we end up talking about last year. The one thing that is different is every year's different. Our kids had to realize that throughout the course of the season as everybody talked about the expectations and, boy, we came in second last year, so clearly there's only one way to define success for this year.
Our kids had to really work through all of that. But we lost Haylie Wagner and Lauren Sweet, and those were two huge losses for us. But the key to being a great program is have young people step up. I think we're a balanced team. I thought we were balanced last year. That's our goal every year to put forth good pitching, good offense, and play good defense.
When it comes down to it this time of year, regardless what kind of teams we are, we need to play good softball. We focus on not who we're playing, but playing good softball every day. Our team is going to go out tomorrow night to play good softball. We know LSU is a good team because only the good teams are still playing. And now only the great teams are still playing. So we just need to play good softball and focus on the ball.
Q. Patty and Patrick, you played earlier this year and it went down to the wire. Is there anything you can take from that game? Because I know it was so long ago and that team has changed so much this season.
PATRICK MURPHY: I just think we knew how many kids they'd lost because we had just played them last May. But they showed us they were just as good or better this year. So it's not like we're going to go in overconfident or anything. Because it was a battle, and they hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the
seventh. It might have been the quickest game we played all year. It might have been like an hour and a half. And it was just two pitchers going at each other. Just an incredible defensive effort by both of them. Their freshman hitter got ahold of one at the end. They had two hits in the bottom of the seventh, and that was it, and game over.
So it was just a great game, a good environment, and I'm sure it's going to be more of the same.
PATTY GASSO: It might have been an hour and a half because we struck out 14 or 15 times, which is part of what you face with (Alexis) Osorio and the rest of the staff. We just have to keep trying to figure that out and prepare. That game was another really outstanding game, one of the best that we've played in the way of defense to keep ourselves in the game. But we just know, we know each other enough that we know that it's going to be a game like that. So all you do is just keep prepping and, you know, put it out there tomorrow. That's all we can do.
Q. Carol, could you tell us what Kelly Christner's given you this year as a leader? And also talk about how she's doing offensively now and how she sort of found her way back?
CAROL HUTCHINS: Well, Kelly's our junior outfielder who was one of the tri-captains that is not a senior, and she was voted because of her great work ethic and her ability to say what she thinks and make sure her teammates are always marching in the right direction. She was a kid who last year was First Team All American. This year didn't make All Big Ten. She had what I like to refer to as the World Series hangover. Just a great, great year. And kids who often experience great success come back with their expectations very high. But they get a little befuddled when it doesn't just automatically happen.
The team really remembers what all happened at the very end of the year, and they forgot how hard they worked to get there. She certainly had a great Super Regional for us. She had a great regional for us. I think now she's gone back to just doing what it takes to be great. She's a great athlete and a great talent. We certainly need her back hitting in the three hole.
Q. Patty and Carol, you both have a Romero on your team. Obviously they're at different points in their careers and they're different women, I get that. But could each of you talk about what each of them has brought to your team, characteristics that are most important to where your teams are now?
CAROL HUTCHINS: Sierra Romero was obviously named National Player of the Year, and very deserving, I think. She's been the face of our program really since she walked in the door, and we certainly have surrounded her with a lot of great softball talent as well. But what I love most about her, and I've said this since we got to know her family and recruited her, that the Romeros were raised really well because of her tremendous sense of respect for the game and respect for the team. She's a great teammate. She's become a great leader. She's understood that her talent and her having a great game is important. But our team having a good game and being able to execute is where she needs to keep her focus. She's really grown in that direction, and she's become a great team player. That's probably what I'm most proud of.
PATTY GASSO: I think it's hard to be Syd Romero when you have the best softball player in the game as your older sister. And I agree they both have been, I mean, Sierra is a phenomenal athlete, and when you're the younger sister, you try to live, it's hard to live in those shadows. And I think Syd felt a lot of pressure throughout the season to do that. And we just kept trying to let her know we love Syd for Syd, not because you're Sierra's sister. And I think she started to embrace that a little bit.
The one thing about Syd that I enjoy is just that it's tough to get her out. She doesn't strike out a lot, like Sierra. I think they probably have a bet as to who is going to have the least amount of strikeouts in a season. But Syd, she can hit tough pitching. She's always the one that finds a way to get it done. She's quiet. She's not real flashy. She just quietly does her job.
Like I said, everybody in the world has enjoyed Sierra and watching her phenomenal four years at Michigan, well-coached by her family, and her coaches. But I think for Syd's future, it's almost a good thing that Sierra's graduating so Sydney can be Sydney and not the sister of Sierra. But she's been a very instrumental player for our successes this season.
Q. Coach Torina, I think you've played 28 games against ranked opponents. I think 19 against Top 10 teams. How has that rugged road got you ready to be at this point?
BETH TORINA: I think somebody said, just going through adversity makes us tougher. Our team has had our backs against the wall and multiple come- from-behind victories to hang on for our lives there in the SEC Tournament and some other games that we've had to come from behind. I think our kids are a lot tougher.
A lot like Hutch said, too, in the beginning of the season, they just think it's going to be kind of an automatic that you return a lot of the same team and you're going to get instantly back to the College World
Series. So I think they had to remember who they were, and they had to remember how to fight. And I think they've done that throughout.
So I think playing the schedule that we've played has really led us to where we're sitting today.
Q. Patty, you said it's tough when you don't make the World Series and being here in the state. Do you come to the World Series? What's it like watching when someone else is out there?
PATTY GASSO: I could (laughing). You know, honestly, it's tough for any coach who's competitive to watch on television, not because you're knowing what a coach is feeling like when they're in it, but you want to be there. So it's hard to sometimes watch that. You wish well for the coaches that you appreciate and respect. But this city just loves — and the people in it love this tournament. And they have shown it by their attendance. It's just in-your-face all the time.
Quite honestly, I feel that I let the city down when we're not in it. I feel like we want to make them proud. We want to give them something to root for, and when we aren't here, I feel like I let many down.
So it's hard. Are they upset at me? I don't know. I hope not. But at the same time, I have so much respect for our fans that I want to treat them just like our players want to treat them to this moment. So I think that's why it's kind of hard sometimes.
Q. Coach Murphy, you went through Oklahoma in 2012, that environment here, what was it like going through that knowing the fan base wanted to see Oklahoma win a National Championship and you're able to get through that and win one yourself?
PATRICK MURPHY: I said last weekend after the Super Regionals the atmosphere we had at Alabama will be the same in Oklahoma City but they're going to be rooting for the other team. It's happened several times to us where there's 10,000 Boomer Sooners rooting for them, and maybe 500 rooting for us.
So like she said last year, when they came to Tuscaloosa, we're going to turn around and everybody's going to be wearing red anyway. So we'll just pretend they're yelling for Alabama. We've got the same stuff. I've got the same top, so sometimes when — I have to really look because at the end I almost say “Roll Tide”.
But, no. I think it's a very respectful rivalry, too. I think everybody up here, we respect the heck out of everybody. It's not a dirty, you know — it's nothing like that. They play the right way. I hope we do. It's very, very respectful, and that's the way it should be.
Q. Beth, the question hanging over this press conference, where's the fish? And what about the mask? Are you wearing them in practice now that you can't wear them in games? How's that going?
BETH TORINA: I feel like we kind of get the finger pointed to us a lot in the dugout prop scenario. I think honestly, it's truly about the culture of Louisiana. I'm not a native in Louisiana. I'm happy to live there now. But it's really the culture of Louisiana, just the Mardi Gras props and the throws, and most of the stuff our kids have comes from a parade or something people have thrown us in the dugout or they've dumped a thing of beads at us.
It's really about the culture of Louisiana. It's not something we'd ever do to make a joke of the game of softball. Our kids are just enthusiastic. It's not something I've encouraged as a coach. It's like I said, just part of who they've grown up being their entire lives in the state of Louisiana. And I have 12 players from the state of Louisiana. So it's part of them.
I cannot confirm or deny the fish is on this trip because last year I had no idea there was a fish in the dugout. So some things are just out of our control as coaches. So all I can say is there may or may not be a fish in this dugout.
Q. Carol and Patty, number one, Florida's not here. Is that almost freeing coming into a World Series where the No. 1 team isn't here and it seems like it's up for anyone?
CAROL HUTCHINS: It's always up for anyone. I think people have asked that question. The only team I ever care about is Michigan. The people who think that seeding matters, I can tell you that Florida realizes seeding doesn't matter, and seeding has never mattered. Seeding helps put you in position to be in order in the tournament, the order that we get put in. The goal is always to be seeded hopefully in the top eight so you can play those games at home, but you still have to win those games. At this point of the year, I'm certain everybody would agree, everybody has tough matchups, and the field is wide open. To me it always is.
PATTY GASSO: Nothing to add. Exactly what I would say.
Q. Just curious, after four years with Leona (Lafaele), what you've learned about Polynesian culture?
PATRICK MURPHY: They are fun-loving and just incredible, family-oriented people. It's just we're so glad we had an opportunity to have her on the team. Last year we went out to Stanford for her home trip, and we had probably 80 to 90 members of her family and friends. We had a Samoan barbecue that was very good, the sister and the brother did a traditional dance for us in the Courtyard of the Marriott in Palo Alto, and we certainly got some stares because they were in full costume. Just the nicest people. I'm really, really glad that we got to experience that. She's a great kid.
Q. Coach Gasso, I was wondering if you could go back in time a little bit. It's been 15 years since that game you played against LSU here, extra innings, pitchers' duel, and really excited people about the sport of softball at least in Louisiana who stayed up watching and whatnot. Do you remember that game here at the World Series?
PATTY GASSO: You posted in the paper that I was turning 50-something years old, so if that won't get me off the hook in telling, I don't remember a lot about it (laughing). I do remember back in that time we were playing — wait a minute. Was it on the main field? You better remember. If you want me to remember, you better.
Q. 13 innings, 2-1 game, Britni Sneed pitched.
PATTY GASSO: I think we had a throwing error. I don't remember. I don't want to remember. I just don't want to remember. There's a reason why I don't remember. I don't remember. I think, honestly, if I can remember right, and I can't, but I think there might have been a tough throwing error that cost us that. It might have been another time we played LSU here as well.
A very good friend of mine, Yvette Girouard was the coach at that time, and I know both of these two have great history with her. And they brought their fans. I remember their fans being very vocal. I remember they had props, and it was a lot of dancing, a lot of country dancing. I don't know. Square dancing, square dancing, I do remember square dancing. I remember the important things about the game. But I wish I could give you more, but I'd be making it up. I probably just made up some of it anyway.
Q. Coach Torina, you talk about kind of dugout props. And over in Tallahassee, Coach Alameda had a dance-off with another coach in the middle of a Regional. Does that level of fun help or hurt the game of softball when you're having that level of fun in the dugout or on the field in the middle of the game?
BETH TORINA: I love it. And I love our players to be part of a team and all going for the same goal. But also to be individuals too, and to have personality. I think the coolest thing is to be part of a team. One of the neatest things to do is to be part of a team and have that team dynamic. So everybody bringing their individual personalities to it I think is really neat.
I started my head coaching career in Miami, which is a whole other culture. I've been in the Miami culture, and now the Louisiana culture. But first game my dad ever saw me coach, my kids were just crazy, all over the place, like the culture down there. He said, If you can teach them how to play great softball and still have this much fun, you'll be a great coach. It's something that's always stayed with me. I've always tried to remember it's a game and to help my kids enjoy the game. Have personality and be themselves yet still be intense and united toward the same goal.
Q. Patty and Patrick, there was a time when if Oklahoma wasn't in this event, it really hurt the crowd. That they need Oklahoma in there. Do you see that having changed over the years? It is a difference, isn't it?
PATTY GASSO: This is the best press conference I've ever done before. It is hot in here. You go first (laughing).
PATRICK MURPHY: I think that people, they've shown up year after year after year. I think this might, after our meeting last night, this might be the best attended ever. I mean, I read in the paper this morning in the Oklahoma City Oklahoman that there were like 90 tickets left or 70 maybe. So I don't think it really — I think they'll adopt a team if she's not in it. If they are in it, they're definitely going to come. But it's gotten to a point where it doesn't matter who is in it. It's just like Omaha. People will show up, and watch a great sport and and enjoy it.
PATTY GASSO: We're not selfish that way. We just want the sport to continue to grow. So if people are coming out and we're not here, we're thrilled for it. That means that they're not so much in love with one team, but just in love with the sport, and that's what's most important to continue to keep this train rolling.
PATRICK MURPHY: I think that was one of the keys when they kept it in one spot, similar to Omaha where people have had tickets for 40 consecutive years. We've come since 2000, and there's fans in Alabama that have met good friends, and I would say good friends from Oklahoma City that look forward to seeing them once a year, and it's at this event. They're there whether Oklahoma's here or not.
So it's just a really friendly atmosphere at the park. It's almost like church where you know everybody, where everybody sits. They've been there for 20, 25 years.
BETH TORINA: And if anybody's looking for a team, purple really does look good on anyone (laughter). So if their team isn't here, we're happy to take them.
Q. For Patrick and Beth, for fans of this event who don't follow SEC softball very closely, we wanted to kind of let them know about the Auburn Hop. What they do defensively. I wonder with you guys being in the same league, what do you make of that strategy and how they set their defense right before pitches? Is it something you even thought about doing? What's kind of been your reaction to seeing that style of play?
PATRICK MURPHY: I think it's just like Beth's (Torina) a hell of a pitching coach, but there's a thousand ways to teach a pitcher. There are a ton of ways to get a defense ready. Whatever works for the kids, you've got to do it. Obviously that's worked for them because they have a great defense. I know that, and Beth knows that. But whatever works for the individual kid, that's what you do because there are so many ways to teach hitting, defense, fielding, throwing and pitching.
BETH TORINA: I really couldn't say that any better. That was a great answer.
Q. For all four coaches: How important is this event to the game of softball, now that it's no longer in the U.S. Olympics, being considered for Tokyo 2020, but the fact that there's such a great atmosphere? We're expecting over 80,000 fans to walk through these gates during the week. How important is this event in general to softball?
PATRICK MURPHY: It's huge. I think it's the biggest event in softball, and it's nationally televised live every single game, every single inning. You have postgame, you have pregame press conferences. You've got this. It's the biggest thing in softball now. It's very, very important.
I hope to God that we get back in the Olympics because that would be huge for the sport as well. But right now this is the biggest stage in the game of softball.
PATTY GASSO: I know everybody tunes in. It's one of the highest-rated championships in the NCAA. So we're proud about that. I think also the pro league can catapult off of this as well. Because that's the next step for these athletes as they leave college is getting the opportunity to play professionally, which is another dream that some of them have. I think we can help that cause through this tournament as well.
BETH TORINA: I have to echo the pro league. I think these girls deserve that opportunity and it's such a great opportunity for them that they have earned because they're so amazingly talented. I think the demand for our sport all over the country with the growth of the pro league, with the growth of this event is unbelievable. I think about our players. They all said this is their dream since they started playing since the first time they saw it on TV. If every little girl in the country is dreaming to be here, then we have a lot of people that are big-time fans of this event.
I can't say enough about the Super Regional that we just played in in a very small town in the state of Virginia. The amount of fans that were there, and they're closing down roads to let people stand in the street to watch us play. I did the same thing as you guys. They all were wearing purple, so I pretended they were cheering for us because there were a lot of people there. And the fact that in that small of a community they can bring out that many people to support the sport of softball was really an amazing, amazing sight to see.
CAROL HUTCHINS: I can only add that we continue to evolve. I come from a school where our football program has a stadium that holds 110,000 regardless of what they say they're supposed to hold. I'm pretty sure when they started out 138 years ago, they didn't have 110,000 coming to the game. When I started out in 1985, and we had all the parents came to the game and a couple of the grandparents, and first time I ever came or made it to the Big Dance here was in 1995. We certainly thought this was, the stadium was almost filled. Then we started getting on ESPN, and then they added Super Regionals, which I think has really added to the drama and the couple-week long of the whole event.
They asked me about this the other day, this is the evolution, but the media attention has grown every year. The media has recognized what a great game we have. We've all known for years what a great game this is. But it's helped grow the game with all the attention brought to it. It's raised our visibility on campuses. It's raised our visibility all over the place. At Michigan, after football and basketball, softball has been on ESPN more than any other sport.
I can tell you where we continue to go. But I'd like to see, and I wish I'd be alive in another hundred years to see how many-hundred thousand people we're drawing to watch softball games. It's an evolution.
Q. Coach Hutchins, if I ask you the challenges LSU presents with their pitching staff and how has the game changed where it used to be? It seemed like one girl could throw 300 pitches and now a lot of mixing and matching and bringing different pitchers in.
CAROL HUTCHINS: Yeah, as we were trying to prepare for them before I came over here, they've got a great pitching staff, and they're all different. So I'm certain that would be a strength of theirs and can be very difficult to prepare for them. We never know who we're going to see, and we don't know how long you're going to see them. So it gives them a great strength, I believe.
Q. Patrick and Patty, last year in the Super Regional two great freshmen pitchers, Alexis Osorio and Paige Parker. Now that they're in the Women's College World Series this year as sophomores a year later, what is the biggest difference in both of them that you see?
PATTY GASSO: For Paige, I think, honestly the experience changed her (Super Regional at Alabama in 2015). I think she's learned how to grow up and settle herself down. She's had a really phenomenal season, especially middle to late. She's able to kind of handle the big situations and come through with them. She's really learned how to trust her defense and trust her offense. So I don't feel her quite as wide-eyed and afraid to make mistakes. I think she knows she can get away with making mistakes because her defense or our offense can pick her up if needed. So I think she's just quite grown up from the experience that we had at Alabama.
PATRICK MURPHY: Lexi's (Osorio) smiled at least twice this year, so that's two times as many as last year. She went through a couple injuries, one in the fall and one in the very first week of team practice, with the high-ankle sprain. And she was off probably 12 weeks. She just now is getting back into her, I think normal pitching self. She had a great Regional, and she continued that against a really good hitting team in Washington in Super Regionals. She's more where she was at at this time last year than at any other time this season. I think it was just those injuries held her back. But right now she's pitching as good as she has all year.
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