Gators Repeat as NCAA WCWS Softball Champion’s 2015

2015WCWSArticle

“Gators Repeat as NCAA WCWS Softball Champion's 2015” Written By Bill Plummer

OKLAHOMA CITY — After being shutout the night before, the Florida Gators came back with a vengeance Wednesday night before a crowd of 7,680 to defeat Michigan in the final game of the NCAA Championship Series and win the 34th annual Women's College World Series, 4-1.

Pitcher Lauren Haeger allowed one run and scattered five hits as the Gators repeated as national champion and became only the third team to repeat, joining UCLA and Arizona. Haeger was named the Most Outstanding Player of the WCWS and also won the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and is only the third player to win both awards. She finished the year 32-2.

Haeger compiled a 4-1 mound record in the Series allowing six earned runs in 36 innings. She also batted .571 hitting three homers, driving in six runs and walking six times as the Gators finished the year 60-7. It marked the third year out of the last four years that an SEC team has won the WCWS.

“When you work hard good things happen to you,” said Haeger.”I am so thankful to be a Gator. It's been a great time.”

In repeating as national champion, Florida joined UCLA and Arizona with Arizona winning in 2006-07.

“We used it as motivation,” said Haeger.”We realize this isn't going to be handed to us and we really needed to work hard. Michigan is a great team. And we just had a different attitude today. You could see it in our eyes. You could see it in each other, you will hear it in our conversations. We were a different team. We were who we are today. And I couldn't be more proud of my teammates.”

In Tuesday's loss Michigan attacked early and scored the game's only run in the first inning. On Wednesday, the Gators turned the tables and scored three times in the bottom of the first and once in the second for all the runs they would need. Michigan scored a run in the fifth on an RBI single to center field by second baseman Sierra Romero with two out.

In the first, the Gators scored an RBI single by Haeger and a two-run single to left field by Taylor Schwarz, scoring Haeger and and Nicole DeWitt. In the second, the Gators added another run on an RBI double by Kelsey Stewart to left field scoring Justine McLean, who had singled to open the inning, went to second on a throwing error by the third baseman and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Aubree Munro.

“That first inning obviously broke our back,” said Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins.

Haylie Wagner, who had shut out the Gators Tuesday evening, took the loss and finished the year 25-3. She allowed four hits and four runs. She didn't strike out or walk anyone. Wagner was relieved by Megan Betsa who hurled four innings allowing only one hit and no runs. She walked three and struck out eight.Michigan finished the year 60-8 and was seeking its second NCAA national title after winning in 2005.

Michigan had five players named to the All Tournament team including Wagner, Kelsey Susalla, Sierra Romero, Kelly Christner and Abby Ramirez. Florida had Aubree Munro, Kelsey Stewart and Haeger. Joining them were Carlee Wallace and Branndi Melero of Auburn, and Ally Carda of UCLA.

The attendance Wednesday upped the overall attendance to a record 78,078 breaking the previous mark of 75,960 in 2012. Four of the ten sessions in the 2015 WCWS also were records and the attendance for the third game was the fourth highest. This was only the fourth time that the WCWS reached the third game.

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2015 WCWS Championship Final Game 3 Quotes and Notes Florida 4, Michigan 1

2015WCWSQuotesFinalGame3

2015 WCWS Championship Final Game 3
“Quotes and Notes”
Florida 4, Michigan 1

Florida

An Interview with: COACH TIM WALTON, LAUREN HAEGER, NICOLE DEWITT, TAYLOR SCHWARZ, KELSEY STEWART

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Florida head coach Tim Walton, student-athlete Lauren Haeger, student-athlete Nicole DeWitt, student-athlete Kelsey Stewart and coming soon will be student-athlete Taylor Schwarz. Coach, general comments about the game.

COACH WALTON: Before I start with the game, just want to congratulate Michigan on a phenomenal season to have two teams coming down at the end with almost identical records. And to win this game to be the overall winning percentage, leader in the country, just says a lot about not only both programs but the coaching staffs and the players. And also want to thank the NCAA for hosting this event. Thought it was one of the best events that — obviously it's easy to sit up here and say that. But just a great event. All the amenities they've added and taking care of the grounds crew and get everything right and the ESPN and the viewership and viewers and fans, I heard it was the biggest event watched last year. And the number, 74,000 or 77,000 that came through the gates, just we couldn't have what we have without that, and that support. So thanks to everybody for being there and supporting these kids. And just — I'll make it simple. I thought we really committed to — we really owned making an adjustment at the plate. And I think last night my words probably are still ringing in some of their heads. But overall the adjustment we made, and again our pitching staff, just so proud of our pitching staff. Without Aleshia Ocasio and Delanie Gourley on Monday night, we wouldn't be sitting up here. I'm pretty sure of it. And Lauren (Haeger), can't say enough about her season, what she's meant in the circle, at the plate, and in the locker room. And the confidence and work ethic she brought this year has been tremendous. And being rewarded with Player of the Year but also with the national championship trophy to go with that and a ring and SEC championship. Proud of our players and thankful that I'm their coach and they buy into what we do. A lot of confidence.

Q. Kelsey, in the first inning you took what looked like a really painful hit on your knee. You were able to get to second on the attempted fielder's choice. You scored the first run. How much pain were you in. And can you take us through what that was like?

KELSEY STEWART: I think any time you get hit in the kneecap, it's going to cause a lot of pain. It hit me in the right spot. I had to work through it. Once I saw Nicole (DeWitt) lay the bunt down, I saw their third baseman try to throw me out. And there was no way that was happening today. And Lauren (Haeger), clutch, like she always does. And that first one, whoever scored the first run of these past three games has won the game. So I thought that was a big uplfiting for us.

Q. Tim and Lauren, you mentioned the adjustments. Can you be any more specific on what adjustments those might have been?

COACH WALTON: We really were having problems getting extension. Couldn't get any extension. And I couldn't get any clearer definition of why we couldn't get extension. If it was velocity or if it was movement. And so we — if you notice a lot of the hitters, they're choked up probably four, five inches on the bat. And I gave an interesting analogy I think today that one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, Barry Bonds, 32- inch bat, chokes up two to three inches. And he can hit just fine. Let's just go find a way to make contact and hit hard ground balls today. Our jam shots were going to the catcher and pitcher the last couple of days; finally got over the shortstop's head and made that adjustment.

LAUREN HAEGER: Yeah, he said it all. That's exactly what we did. I don't know.

Q. What was your day like yesterday? You sat on the podium, you and Taylore (Fuller) said you were coming with different energy. And you scored three runs in the first inning. Different energy. What was the day like? Did you get rid of yesterday mentally and just kind of focus on what was ahead?

LAUREN HAEGER: Yes, we used it as motivation. We realized this isn't going to be handed to us and we really needed to work hard. Michigan is a great team. And they are a great team. And we just had a different attitude today. You could see it in our eyes. You could see it in each other, you could hear it in our conversations. We were a different team. We were who we are today. And I couldn't be more proud of my teammates.

Q. Lauren and Taylor, can you talk about your emotions when you saw the weak grounder going to first? And for Lauren, can you talk about, did you think you were going to die underneath that dog pile?

LAUREN HAEGER: Yeah, my leg was not in the right position. Just kept getting heavier and heavier and I was like get off of me! But it was great. I tried to hold it out as long as I could. But when I saw that ground ball go to Taylor (Schwarz) I was, like, I froze. And I was, like, oh my gosh, this is going to happen. Oh my gosh. And Taylor sits on the base. I looked at Aubree (Munro), she threw her glove in the air. And I threw my glove in the air. I've never been in that position before. I've never been in the circle when that happened. I was, like, great, here comes the dog pile. It was a crazy feeling. It was very slow motion for me. And it was just an amazing feeling that I will feel forever.

TAYLOR SCHWARZ: Same thing, it's crazy how last year I made the last out. And this year I made the last out. I was really trying to soak it in, because I remember last year went by so fast. I saw that ball coming to me, I was like get the ball. Tag the base. Now you can throw your glove and the ball in the air. So much fun. And I got up out of the dog pile with dirt all over my face but it was so worth it.

Q. Coach, I know you never forget your first, but does it feel any sweeter the second time around?

COACH WALTON: Yeah, it was a little bit more emotional than the first. It was kind of an interesting thing. I don't know if it was a relief. I mean, everybody had said how many times you've been here before and not won it last year. I guess I never even thought of it that way. Last year it was just a lot of, just a lot of celebration. This time was a little bit different emotion. And I'm proud of watching these athletes just go out and continue to compete. And I got a bunch of competitors on our team. And I'm proud of just the way they went out and competed and really just raised that trophy up the way we did. And the way we run our program and the way the players play in our program with a lot of class, a lot of positive energy for kids out there. I'm really proud of them.

Q. Lauren, the last game in your career, how do you want Gator fans to remember your legacy?

LAUREN HAEGER: I mean, I just want everyone to know me as a person more than a softball player. And that when you work hard, good things happen for you. When you really buy into something — I bought into what Coach Walton does and did. And it worked out. And just, I just am so thankful to be a Gator and it's been a great time.

Q. Coach, the message at the beginning of the season was to let last year's team be last year's team. And throughout the course of the year how well did they do at that task of making their own memories and making their own moments?

COACH WALTON: I think the keyword you used there is their own moments. We had some ups and downs this season personally for some individuals on our team. One down at the end of the podium, Taylor Schwarz. Kid who has played every game her first couple years. This year kind of platooned a little bit. I'm proud of them. They all understand. I think the key to this creating your own moment is we've got 20 players on our team and each one has a role and each one brings value to the team. And if you can put yourself aside, your own selfish instincts, you want to play every game and support your teammates, good things happen for you. And I think that's the key. That's one of the things we worked on so hard. A good friend of ours, now all of ours, Brett Ledbetter what he did for us and helped us learn about the character components. Winning and losing kind of comes and goes but you as a person is never going to go anywhere. And the foundation of what we built here is so important to me. Again, I think that the kids on this podium really are good examples of that. Taylor Schwarz is none better having to watch somebody else play for a while. And I felt like we had a good matchup. I felt she matched up best with Haylie Wagner, and there she was with the biggest hit of our season, that's for sure.

Q. Lauren, can you talk about scoring from second there in the first, just talk me through that and then, Tim, a follow-up. As Lauren was talking about her legacy, is there a word or two that come to mind for you when you think about her mark on this program after four years?

LAUREN HAEGER: Well, when Taylor (Schwarz) hit the ball, I was just like there's two outs and I was putting my head down and trying to run as fast as I can. I'm not the fastest but coach is waving me around. And I was like, here it comes. Am I going to have to head first slide or slide by. I was like, oh my gosh. I ran as fast as I could. I could see her giving me part of the plate and I tried to slide in. I was trying to run as fast as I could.

COACH WALTON: One of the biggest things that I'll say: Lauren (Haeger) left her mark. What stands in mind is what her dad said to me in the recruiting process, is that Lauren is always everyone's favorite player on the team, not because she hits home runs or strikes everybody out, but because of her personality. She came to us speaking five or six different languages and none of which any of us understand. They're not written languages. They're all languages amongst her teammates, and all of her teams. And everybody from Team U.S.A. to her high school team to her travel ball team, to now her college team and soon to be her pro team, she's always the most likable person on the team. She's fun-loving. She just has fun. And doesn't really take anything too serious. But the mark that she's going to leave on our program, once she graduates next year, she'll have a big sign like all the rest of the greatest Gators in the program's history because that's what she is. She's one of the greatest Gators that ever played and put the uniform on. We talked about the person. We talked about the player. We talked about the student side of things. And she's really bought into us. And I think I'm proud of her for all she's accomplished. But I'm more proud of her about how she's going to move on and be a great human being and she'll have a special part in my family, because my family loves her and loves what she's done. And I think the easiest thing to say she's one of the greatest players to ever play the game for the University of Florida Gators.

Q. Tim, have you ever been part of a game where there were so many batters hit by pitches?

COACH WALTON: I think the last time was probably Michigan. The last time we played them. I love Coach Hutch (Hutchins). I love her. I told her before the game, before the first game, it's a privilege to play on the field with her and her team and what she does at Michigan. They play with a lot of class. None of those were intentional, did I see. Nobody was complaining. They weren't complaining we were getting hit, I wasn't complaining when they were getting hit. Two teams trying to find a way to take away somebody's best pitch. I don't think anything — there were a couple maybe a little close. But, hey, I've said it all year long, if somebody wants to stand and take a dose, I'm all for it. And she's all for it. I hear her at third — she's smiling and pumping her fist. Again, I think that's part of the game. And it didn't change the outcome of the game fortunately. But I don't think I've been a part of that many like that, that's for sure.

Q. Kelsey and Taylor, you had the two big hits today. Can you just speak to what Tim was talking about, just the mentality or the change up of the approach going up to bat against Wagner this time?

TAYLOR SCHWARZ: I think earlier today at early hitting we bought into what Coach Walton was saying, making the right adjustments off (Haylie) Wagner. She's a great pitcher. We knew she was going to come out hot and we had to make adjustments. Honestly, my at-bat I wasn't thinking about anything. I was just trying to get the barrel on the ball and it fell in the right spot. If it wasn't for Coach making those adjustments and really buying into it and believing in the process all year I don't think we would have had the result we had today.

KELSEY STEWART: We worked this morning on getting on the plate and really looking for my pitch. And I was looking for an inside pitch and if she was there to come inside she got a little too close to me and hit me. But that last pitch I was trying to hit it up the middle because the middle's wide open and that's my strength. And it just happened that I got a good piece of it.

Q. Tim, with both Lauren and Hannah Rogers last season we saw seniors reach a fork in the road and choose a certain path. Why and how did that happen two years in a row?

COACH WALTON: I think both — if I can look at the physical attributes, I think both of them developed a good offspeed pitch late in their career. I think that's key. Hannah developed her offspeed pitch last year about three-quarters through the season. And Lauren decided to get hers about January, late January, maybe early February. Those have been the two physical attributes that I can say. Then I go to the mental side of things that obviously pushes them physically. They just worked really hard with Coach (Jennifer) Rocha and being able to get into the bullpen and work what they're good at and know the opponent. I think overall their work ethic, Hannah had a strong work ethic the whole time she was here just because she was pretty much our go-to pitcher a long time. Lauren kind of picked and chose her moments. She understood I'm not going to go in there exhaust myself for 45 minutes in the bullpen when I'm not going to get the ball on Friday night. Hannah has proven to be that. I think she bought in, changed her work ethic in the circle, in the bullpen more, I won't say probably the whole year, but probably from about November on she really kind of bought into I had a chance to pitch and pitch a lot this year.

Q. Lauren, considering this is your last game, obviously you'll take the result, but were you frustrated that you only got to really bat once?

LAUREN HAEGER: Not at all. Coach Ron (Walton)'s always told me to take your walks. I'll take my walks. I was having a really great tournament. I was seeing the ball really well. And we would have done the exact same thing, to whoever was hitting as well as I was on that side, too. No, I'm very proud of the way I hit.

Q. Nicole, I assumed you watch last year's national championship team from your couch, an you're at the podium here in Oklahoma City. How does it feel to be part of a championship team?

NICOLE DEWITT: It's a great feeling. I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I'm actually a national champion. But I know that it's happened. I'm just so proud of my team and I'm just so happy to actually experience this with these girls and I just, I don't know, I can't believe that it's happened. I've grown up looking forward to this moment and now it's here.

Q. Coach, she's not at the podium but expand on how big Katie (Kathlyn) Medina has been for this team?

COACH WALTON: Yeah, it's funny when you go through yesterday, I brought some socks and some extra shoes because they always get wet in big moments. Today I was like forget this I'm not bringing anything extra. I had it in the back of my mind, I really was hoping that whoever selected the all tournament team would recognize one of our most valuable players on our team, not only defensively but what she brings leadership wise and personality wise. Katie (Kathlyn) Medina is — Lauren Haeger gets all the recognition, but Katie Medina is one of the best short stops in the country on one of the best teams in the country. She should be recognized in the all-tournament team in my mind.

Q. Taylor, I had a chance to visit with your mom and your sister yesterday. With your brother also being a star player for the baseball team, and I was just wondering if you could reflect on how valuable it's been with him being there at school with you, especially as Coach mentioned your role, more of a role player this year, and just kind of how that's been a special year. I know you're going to be helping out ESPN in a couple of weeks in Omaha, is that correct?

TAYLOR SCHWARZ: Hopefully.

Q. Hopefully get to see him play there as well. Could you comment on your defensive ability how that developed over the years. You had some key defensive plays during this series?

TAYLOR SCHWARZ: I've grown up with my brother. I've grown up watching him and his work ethic and his love for the game. Definitely my dad is a huge part of that, because no matter what he was doing he took time to work with my brother and I. And just growing up with him and seeing his love for the game really inspired me. Like I said before, I mimicked his swing. That's why I hit righty, because that's what I was seeing when I was little. Having him come to the UF, that's like having another support system for there. He would throw me batting practice if I wasn't having a good weekend. He's having an amazing year. He deserves it because he's worked his butt off to get what he's gotten so far, and I'm just so proud of him and I'm just lucky to be his sister.

Q. Your defense?

TAYLOR SCHWARZ: I don't know. I'm a lefty. Coach Walton tried to put me in the outfield and it was absolutely awful and embarrassing. Really what other place can I play in infield besides first base. I tried to master it. I love it. That's the thing I love, defense. I thrive off of it. That's what makes it so great.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

Michigan

An Interview with: COACH CAROL HUTCHINS, SIERRA ROMERO, HAYLIE WAGNER, MEGAN BETSA, TERA BLANCO

THE MODERATOR: Good evening. We have Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins, student-athlete Sierra Romero, student-athlete Haylie Wagner, student- athlete Megan Betsa and student-athlete Tera Blanco. Coach, we'll start with general comments about the game.

COACH HUTCHINS: Well, congrats to Florida. They were the best team tonight. And they've been one often this season, but they showed up to come after us. And that first inning obviously broke our back. And we gave them a lot of free bases all night long. Too many. And you can't do that to a team like Florida. They're just too good. They have such great bat control. They can bunt it. They can poke it out of the infield. When it comes down to it you have to say Lauren Haeger, she was outstanding. Very deserving of the Most Outstanding Player. And I thought she was better than last night. I thought she was on fire and she definitely took care of business. She was great tonight. So very deserving champion. As I told my team I told them yesterday and I told them today, tonight doesn't define our season. Obviously we would have liked to have walked out of here with the other trophy, but this has been a great team, fun to coach. They've been very committed to team, very committed to Michigan and to each other and I'm proud of them. I'm proud of my seniors really proud of Haylie Wagner. She had her best tournament the last tournament of the season. She was outstanding. Great season for Michigan.
Very proud of us.

Q. After seeing the effort all your student-athletes put in all season long, how would you define this team?

COACH HUTCHINS: They were a team. Outstanding team. They worked hard every day. They came in every day and did what we asked. They worked through adversity and avoided a lot of adversity because they always believed. They believed they were great and I don't think you can believe you're great unless you have trust. Trust in the program, trust in the coaches and trust in each other. Most importantly trust in themselves. They were a great group to coach. We had a lot of fun.

Q. I know it's right after the game but can you talk about how tough this loss is to get to the third game to get so close but to fall a little bit short?

SIERRA ROMERO: It happens. I can't really be all that mad. Haylie (Wagner) did amazing. I mean all the seniors did everything we asked them to do. I'm proud of this team. So I have nothing to be sad about.

HAYLIE WAGNER: Like Coach said, this loss doesn't define our season. We played our hearts out. We played with the heart and soul like the last two weeks and Florida is a great team and they came out firing right back today. And congratulations to them. But this doesn't define us — we're a family and these people Team 38 will be forever my best friends and sisters.

MEGAN BETSA: Like they said, it's tough to lose the last game, but I think the returners are going to come back and work really hard next year but all the thanks to the seniors because they did absolutely amazing and couldn't ask for anything more.

SIERRA ROMERO: You always want to win your last game. This team meant so much to me. I felt like Team 38 has been so special and I feel Team 39 is going to be great. Our seniors were just amazing this year, and they helped us through everything basically.

Q. Haylie has already answered this question. But if the other three players could talk about what team means to you, what has the team meant to you? Express what this team meant to you. You mentioned it was special. What this team meant to you?

TERA BLANCO: They pick us up when we're down, I mean through anything, not just softball. I mean not just softball. I love them. They're my family, period.

SIERRA ROMERO: I'm proud of this team. They've taught me so much as a player. And we've stuck together through some hard times and we've pushed through it and no matter what we were a family. So I can't be more proud of them.

MEGAN BETSA: Like they both said, I grew really close especially with the senior class between Sierra (Romero) and Haylie (Wagner) and Becca (Garfinkel) because we all shared time in the bullpen together. The thing we shared was we and we embraced and it's going to be hard to watch them go, but we'll come back next year strong.

Q. Carol, have you ever been part of a game where there was so many hit by pitching; and Haylie, did that get frustrating you were involved on it on both sides?

COACH HUTCHINS: I don't know that I have. Not that I remember.

HAYLIE WAGNER: Hit by pitches, they happen. I was two of them today. They're just part of the game, you kind of have to get over it.

Q. Coach, so many records were set this World Series in terms of attendance and views. What does it mean to you to know that so many people were behind this team not only in Ann Arbor but around the country as well?

COACH HUTCHINS: We wear Michigan on the front of our chest. We know that everybody in the Michigan Wolverine Nation were cheering for us. We have the largest alumni in country. I've heard from football people from 1950s and baseball people from the 1960s and I know how proud the Michigan fans are. And we're really proud of our kids because I think they represented Michigan the way it's supposed to be represented. And they've made Michigan proud.

Q. Haylie, in the first inning, when they were able to get to you, was that a different approach tonight or was that something that changed with you from yesterday?

HAYLIE WAGNER: They definitely came out attacking, and they just got a hold of the ball and I could have spun the ball a little bit more. But I had to go after them. And they were fighting right back and they were throwing the same punches as we were.

Q. Megan, you talked so much about how the seniors have helped you this year. Is there something specifically from Haylie that you learned that you would like to add to your game the next two years?

MEGAN BETSA: I think me and Haylie (Wagner) taught each other a lot. She taught me how to be strong, how to be a bulldog in the circle. And she was always there to tell me like what I was doing wrong. And something that she taught me was that I need to play every pitch of the game because I can help whoever is in the circle and I really took from that and I really tried to do my best to help her when she's in the circle if I saw anything that I could help her with.

Q. Could the hitters talk about what Haeger did tonight. You didn't get your first hit until the fifth inning. Hutch, if you could talk about stranding eight tonight and how much that hurt?

SIERRA ROMERO: She's a great pitcher. And she came out ready to play. And I mean, she did awesome. So props to her and congratulations.

HAYLIE WAGNER: As being a pitcher I know exactly what she was doing. She was just coming out and attacking us. She has a lot of spin on the ball and she's a really good pitcher and she deserves that MVP.

MEGAN BETSA: Like they said she did a great job tonight attacking the zone. Hit some balls hard. Didn't get through, but we gave it our all.

COACH HUTCHINS: It's the name of the game. We stranded eight runners. Had a couple innings we got it going. Couldn't get the timely hit. C-Lo (Sierra Lawrence) it one hard to right, went right at them. Wherever we hit the ball, they caught it. And (Lauren) Haeger, give her credit. She got better when we got something going.

Q. Haylie, being a senior, is there one moment of the season where you're the most proud of this team and what you take with you?

HAYLIE WAGNER: Most proud moment right now. I wanted to wear my jersey, Michigan across my chest to the very last possible game. And I got to do that. I couldn't be more proud of the team and being part of such an amazing experience and opportunity. And this may be the last day I get to wear the jersey across my chest, but I'll forever be a Michigan Wolverine.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

POSTGAME NOTES

No. 1 seed Florida claimed the 2015 Women’s College World Series title after defeating No. 3 seed Michigan, 4-1, in the third game of the Championship Series. The Gators improved to 60-7 this season, while the Wolverines finished with a 60-8 mark.

The national title was the second for Florida in program history, with its first win coming in 2014. The Gators became the third team to win the title in back-to-back years, joining Arizona (2006, 2007 / 1996, 1997 / 1993, 1994) and UCLA (2003, 2004 / 1988, 1989, 1990 / 1984, 1985).

This is Florida’s 35th overall national title in school history (33 NCAA, two AIAW) and its second this season, joining women’s gymnastics. Florida has won at least two NCAA titles each of the last six seasons for a total of 13 in that span. Florida has won two of the six national titles claimed by the SEC in 2014-15 (Florida – softball, gymnastics; Arkansas – women’s indoor track & field; LSU – men’s golf; Vanderbilt – women’s tennis; South Carolina – equestrian).

Florida ranked No. 1 in the 2015 ESPN/USA Today preseason poll. The last preseason No. 1 team to win the NCAA title was Arizona in 2007.

In the 11 years of the Regional–Super Regional–WCWS format, Florida is the fifth No. 1 seed to win the title (Florida – 2015; Oklahoma – 2013; Arizona State – 2011; Arizona – 2007; Michigan – 2005).

All-time at the WCWS, Florida moved to 22-12 in its seventh appearance (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14, ’15), while Michigan fell to 13-22 in its 11th WCWS appearance (1995, ’96, ’97, ’98, 2001, ’02, ’04, ’05, ’09, ’13, ’15).

The game marked the fifth meeting this season between Florida and Michigan, with the Gators taking four of the matchups (2-1 on Feb. 6, 7-4 on March 5, 3-2 on June 1) and the Wolverines taking game two of the championship series, 1-0.

Prior to tonight, since the Championship Series began in 2005, the winner of game 2 had always won the title. It was the fourth time the series has extended to three games, and Florida is the first to win the title by taking games 1 and 3.

Florida senior pitcher Lauren Haeger improved to 32-2 on the season with the win. Haeger surrendered one run on five hits, walked one and struck out five batters. She became the third player to be named both the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year and the WCWS Outstanding Player in the same season, joining Danielle Lawrie (Washington, 2009) and Keilani Ricketts (Oklahoma, 2013). Haeger is the third Gator to be named the WCWS Most Outstanding Player, along with Micelle Moultrie (shared in 2011) and Hannah Rogers (2014).

The Gators put three runs on the board in the first inning. Haeger drove in a run with a single, and junior Taylor Schwarz added a two-RBI single to left field, giving them a 3-0 advantage. Prior to the inning, Michigan’s Haylie Wagner had not given up an earned run in 20 innings pitched at the WCWS.

Florida junior Kelsey Stewart stretched the Gator’s lead to 4-0 with an RBI double in the second inning.

Junior Sierra Romero put Michigan’s lone run on the board with an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Michigan senior pitcher Wagner fell to 25-3 this year with the loss. Wagner pitched two innings, giving up four runs on four hits. Sophomore Megan Betsa played four innings for the Wolverines, giving up a hit, walking three batters and striking out eight.

The attendance for the contest was 7,680 (session 10 record), bringing the cumulative total for the event to 78,078. This is the highest seven day total in WCWS history, surpassing the total attendance of 75,960 in 2012.

The 2015 WCWS All-Tournament Team included: Carlee Wallace and Branndi Melero (Auburn); Ally Carda (UCLA); Abby Ramirez, Wagner, Kelsey Susalla, Romero and Kelly Christner (Michigan); and Nicole Dewitt, Aubree Munro, Stewart and Haeger (Florida).

A total of nine batters were hit by pitches in the game, a WCWS record (previous seven, Alabama vs. Oklahoma in 2012). Florida’s six hit batters tied a WCWS record for a single team.

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2015 WCWS Championship Game 2 Quotes and Notes Michigan 1, Florida 0


2015WCWSQuotesFinalGame2

2015 WCWS Championship Final Game 2 “Quotes and Notes”
Michigan 1, Florida 0


Michigan

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.

 

Florida

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.

 

POSTGAME NOTES

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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