Monday, June 6, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma – 7, LSU – 3
Patty Gasso, Caleigh Clifton, Shay Knighten, Paige Parker
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with an opening statement from coach.
PATTY GASSO: Intense, stressful, hard working. It was probably one of the hardest fought wins we have had just because of the intensity and knowing what we're facing with a team like LSU.
I shout out to my coaching staff, Melyssa Lombardi was exceptional tonight. As well as JT (Gasso). Really getting these guys prepared for what we were about to face.
The plan was, if we're doing what we do right, we're going to see a multiple amount of pitchers and that was the goal. Let's see how many pitchers they're going to throw out there against us. And we saw all three. That was kind of a victory for us. It's what we were looking for.
So, defense, impeccable. Game-ending double play. I don't even know that we even understand what is happening tomorrow, because we're just playing, and we're playing hard, and they don't stop, they never stop.
I thought Paige just was a warrior tonight. And the idea of us getting a chance to play for a national championship is pretty surreal right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please?
Q. Talk about at the third inning when it was tied, Paige on the mound, you bring them into a circle. What do you talk to them to keep them focused and just finish out?
PATTY GASSO: I think just reminding them and talking with Paige, let your defense work for you. One big hit isn't going to be enough. Just get ourselves back in and allow your team to score for you, and we do. We do a good job when someone scores, we — more times than not, will score right back and even the number or better the number. So that's something that's been going on all season. So it's just a reminder. That was really it.
Q. Paige, your team did come back, like coach said, and got you runs. You put up zeros the rest of the night. That helped settle you down or give you more conviction to come back and shut them out the rest of the way?
PAIGE PARKER: Most definitely. Our team does a great job of answering back and that gave me a lot of confidence knowing that they were going to score a lot of runs. So, just going out after that third inning and just making some adjustments and going up from there.
Q. Caleigh, against Alabama in the 8th inning you're down 0-2 in the count, and you come back and get a walk. This game in the third, you're down 0-2, and you get a full count, and you end up an error at second base. Can you talk about what makes you so good in those situations? And do you have any motivation because you got Shay behind you?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: Definitely. I just try to find my way on base, because I know what I have behind me. And I know that just getting on base and passing the torch this offense is going to do something for us. So me getting on base is going to help us, whether it's walk or hit by pitch or just whatever it is, because I know Shay's going to back me up. She's got my back.
Q. What have you seen from Auburn this week and what's your impression? And is there conference pride involved here, your 2-0 this week against the SEC.
PATTY GASSO: I go way back with Coach (Clint) Myers. We coached — I coached at Long Beach City College and he was at Central Arizona, so I've known him and the fantastic job that's done for a long time. So I look forward to it.
Auburn is very well coached, very well balanced. We watched some, but I think most of our concentration was what was right in front of us versus what we hope will be ahead. So we go back to the drawing board tomorrow and do what we have been doing and do a good job of preparation.
PAIGE PARKER: They are very well coached team, and we know it's going to be a battle, and we're just excited to get out there and have a chance to play for a national championship.
SHAY KNIGHTEN: We're going to go out and fight like we always have been. It's another game. We're just going to go out, have each other's backs and just fight until the end, no matter what happens.
CALEIGH CLIFTON: Same. Just going out there and fighting, give it all we got, go pitch by pitch, inning by inning and giving it our all.
Q. Shay, as a southern California kid, I think that you might remember playing with, or against, Auburn's (Kaylee) Carlson and (Carlee) Wallace. If you do, what do you remember about that and what's it going to be like facing off with those girls?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: They're tough competitors. They fight. They're hard fought kids. I think it's going to be a fun game just seeing familiar faces. It's not that it's like a huge game, it's just playing one game at a time. Not trying to over think things and not looking at the players that I know as, like, as an oh my gosh moment. Just playing like it's any other team.
Q. Shay, talk about where you were in your mindset just before you knocked that one out.
SHAY KNIGHTEN: In my mind I was just thinking battle. I had two strikes, I was just thinking find your way on base. A walk, a hit by pitch, a little dinker, something. Just hit the ball hard, put the ball in play. And that paid off.
Q. Caleigh and Shay, at the beginning of the season you guys coming in as freshmen, did you envision playing for a national championship this year? And what's it going to be like to be on that stage playing for a national championship?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: We had hoped for that, like that's something we have always wanted. But it's kind of unbelievable that we are, especially as freshmen. Everyone sees us as underdogs. And since we were freshmen no one thought we would be here. Especially with the team we were last year. But it's kind of crazy. But it works out for us.
SHAY KNIGHTEN: It's one of the things that I think all of us have been dreaming about since we were little. For it to be for like our freshman year, it's just unreal. I don't think it will really become real until I set foot on that field.
It's more of just taking it one game at a time, not trying to over think things, not look at the bigger picture. Just stay with my team.
Q. 30-game win streak, three WCWS finals in six years. Where will this rank as far as your accomplishments at OU?
PATTY GASSO: Quite honestly, I don't know. I don't think about my accomplishments, because they're not mine, they're ours. Every team that's been there has been so different.
So this is just a different, a hard working, competitive, young group that is afraid of nothing. So, it's just what I want to do in this program, to represent OU, just like these guys, we want to represent OU. We want to represent the state. There's a lot of pride in this.
But that's who we are and that's what our expectations are every year. So, to be here is, it's something special, but it's something that we expect from this program.
Q. Over the last couple days you've gotten into some jams here and there against Alabama and Michigan. And some rough spots. Then the same thing happened today. Can you talk to your mindset in those situations and just what you've been doing to consistently get yourself out of those.
PAIGE PARKER: Be tough and battle. I know my defense is behind me, and I know that they're going to make plays. And it's just all about just going out there and fighting and working as hard as I can to keep them off the bases and from scoring. So it's just letting my defense work behind me, because I know that they're fantastic, and they have my back.
Q. What told you that all these pieces, new and old, could fit together in a way that would lead here?
PATTY GASSO: Another answer I don't know.
I think it took us a little bit of time to figure out the lineup. If you look at what our lineup looked like at the beginning of the season, it's completely different than it was from then to now. Different people in different positions.
But we just — the chemistry on this team is something that I have not seen in a long time. This group is so enjoyable to be around every day. At practice, on the field, in battle, it's just a joy to be around them. They truly appreciate and respect each other and at practice every day I don't have to bark at them because they work. So, it's just all the pay off. I didn't know how it would — I mean, if you asked me this in February when we had lost four games in the first two weekends, or three weekends, I wouldn't expect this, but perseverance got us here.
Q. You talked all season long about your freshmen because they have been so spectacular for you. But I think now they have got in the post-season six home runs combined, plus what they're doing defensively. At what point, as a coach, do you just kind of sit back and look at them in amazement at what they have been able to accomplish? And how much have you seen them just since the regionals, started kind of improve or change and maybe taking some leadership in this team?
PATTY GASSO: You know, I don't know that I necessarily really refer to them as freshmen because of their maturity and approach at the plate, on the field.
One thing that I do know about this group is they love challenges, and they love competition. So, with that, you've already kind of gotten so far just with that approach. But I think what this group and these freshmen and this team love, we earned this. Our road was tough. We started with Alabama, it was a big rival. Then on to Michigan, top-ranked team here at this tournament. LSU was the best ERA in the country.
So, we did it right, but this group and these freshmen wanted it that way. They wanted that challenge. They embrace it, and they love it. So, I don't know what else to say. They just, they love the stuff.
Q. About the crowd and how much that has helped you guys this week. Being so close to, obviously, Norman and everything and what kind of an advantage that's going to be now that you're in the championship series.
PATTY GASSO: Well, I trust that the Sooner Nation will come out to help us through this, because it's not going to be easy.
But the crowd and the fans and the families have been just on cloud nine with us. We're just having a lot of fun with these guys, and they're so prideful, and I think that's what I love about this is the pride that goes into following this team. And the love and the emotion and seeing their parents crying and seeing all of this is just, sometimes you don't understand what you're doing, how much it affects people. Whether we're wearing bracelets for people, and they get so much joy out of what we do. I think this team does it the right way. So, if we can do that, that's part of the joy is bringing joy to others who watch us.
Q. Just fresh off a few hours after getting eliminated, Michigan's Sierra Romero is up in the stands wearing an OU shirt and obviously pulling for her sister. That was a pretty special thing. What were your thoughts on that and kind of the family kind of thing they have going on?
PATTY GASSO: You know, it was a tough game yesterday. It was. It was tough for — to watch Michigan have to go into the morning game, or noon game. But by the time we got out of here, I mean I felt for them. I talked to Sydney (Romero) a little bit and just said, we got, we have got your sister. We will continue to represent your family here.
So it was just — I don't know if that meant anything to her, but I know her sister is such a big part of her life and anybody that's a big part of Sydney's life is a part of ours. And that's what we wanted to do is just try to — if she couldn't feel this joy, we're going to try to help Sydney feel this joy with her.
So, it's a tough deal, but we respect Michigan, and I don't think Sydney would be the player she is today without Sierra.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
Beth Torina, Sahvanna Jaquish, Sandra Simmons
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with an opening statement from coach.
BETH TORINA: Congratulations to Oklahoma, and we wish them luck. They are a very athletic team and have a lot going for them.
So, I want to say just how much I appreciate this senior class. I think the five seniors that we have had have taken a program with a lot of tradition already and it has a really great history and continued to make it better. I think they set a standard for us that it's going to be really amazing for us to continue to build upon. They have truly changed the culture, and I just feel really lucky to have had these five seniors and been part of their career, but mostly been part of their lives. They're just really special people.
I think everybody that's followed this team understands how special they are. Special players and special human beings, too. So, our team played hard, it was a long, long grueling day.
We have only played four games, we played about 14 games here, it feels like. I thought we gave it all we had and came up short.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Can you explain the early innings when they were slapping and bunting? You guys didn't have a problem early. What happened?
BETH TORINA: With our defense?
Q. Yeah, your defense early on.
BETH TORINA: Our defense has plagued us all season long. I don't think it's anything different. They're very athletic, very fast. I think they exploited something that's been a deficit for us all year. We had trouble making the adjustment.
Q. What was missing from tonight's game that you did in the other games?
BETH TORINA: We couldn't get them out. We gave them opportunities at the plate. I don't know if I didn't call a great game, we didn't pitch a great game.
And on top of making mistakes and turning the lineup over for them way too many times, we just gave them too many opportunities at the plate. Our offense did a good job scoring off of Parker, who is a really talented pitcher. Sahvanna's hit, I would like to say that should be enough for us, but we have got to do a better job attacking their offense.
Q. What do you think about this run in the World Series back-to-back elimination game wins? You guys were a tough out in this World Series.
BETH TORINA: I'm proud of the spot that our team is in. I think that our team would love to be playing again tomorrow. Our team would love to be continuing on. I think that we have got to find a way to just continue to bridge that gap. It's very tough to get here and it's very tough once you're here.
But as a coach, I've got to continue getting better. And I think we were better this time, I think I was better prepared, I think we did some things differently, and I think I was better.
I try to learn something every time we are here. I don't know if all I learned here this time time, playing Oklahoma here, it's like an Oklahoma home game with 10,000 people. I'm just going to find ways to be better.
Q. How are you guys going to remember this season?
SANDRA SIMMONS: I'm going to remember as just a fun, relentless, integrity team. This team came together and fought. There were times where maybe we may not have been as close as we have in the past, but towards the end we ended on the highest note I think we've ever had in my four years.
Just the relationships we have built and how much we have fought and shown for future players and the team for next year that we're never out. That we understand what it takes to win and that we're going to get that moment.
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: I think that we're going to remember the good moments. These five seniors have instilled something in all of us, and they are irreplaceable, but they have given us something that we can take with us next year and that's a lot of fight and just a lot of love for them and good luck in their lives and that's it.
Q. Beth, it seemed that you were shouting something at your batters there in the middle of the game. Is there something you were seeing that they weren't?
BETH TORINA: I was just trying to pull for our hitters.
Q. To the two players: You had a little bad luck in the first inning. You smashed one off the wall and then stumbled at first. And Sahvanna, you hit one pretty hard and it was just off the glove. It seemed like you were pretty close to taking an early lead and playing from ahead, just didn't work out.
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: I think that it does take a little luck sometimes. Sometimes you've got to have that ball that bounces in for you. But like coach always says, you make your own breaks and Oklahoma did a good job of defending us.
SANDRA SIMMONS: I guess like she said, I just think that we hit the ball hard and that's all you can ask. In softball, you can't control the outcome, and we went up there and gave our best shot. We didn't get the outcome we wanted, but we never stopped fighting.
Q. The way the two games played out today, it was kind of a microcosm of the season. You pitched well, hit well in the first game, you win. You don't do as well in the second game and you — I mean, is it that simple? You kind of do the little things and you can beat anybody, and you don't and it's tough to get a win? Does that make sense? As far as the way the day played out today you got the win against Georgia by doing the little things and maybe didn't in this evening's game. Kind of a microcosm of the whole season maybe?
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: The little things are so important. These girls are so talented and if they have just a little mistake, it can just be blown up and I think that that's what happened. I think that we kind of misstepped on the little things a little bit and they capitalized on our mistakes, but it just shows you how competitive it is when you get down to the wire, because we're just so close.
Q. For both of you, back to back Final Fours for you guys. What kind of shape is the program in?
SANDRA SIMMONS: I think it's in good shape. I think we made it back to back years. That's the first time in program history. Did we fall short? Yes. Can we accomplish a national championship? Yes. And I have all the faith in the world that the team next year will do that and I'm just ready to see them compete already by tomorrow, if that was possible.
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: Can you repeat the question?
Q. What kind of shape is the program in?
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: I'm just so proud of how we finished. It's not ideal. We don't want to be third or fourth. We really want to go on to that second game. But I'm just really proud of us. We gave our all and we came up short and that's all you can ask for.
Q. You talked a lot in recent weeks about the fighting Tigers and the way you've come back. When Sahvanna battled through that at bat and hit that home run were you thinking here we go again?
BETH TORINA: Yeah, I never thought we were out of it. I thought we would continue to score off of her and we did continue to hit some things hard. Like we said before, nothing seemed to bounce our way. We did continue to hit some balls hard. They had a double play there at the end. I thought they did fight. I really did. I just think maybe we ran out of gas being as late as it was, long day. We win the first game on I don't know whatever day it was because I don't know what today is but the first game against Michigan and we're in a different spot today. But it is what it is. They gave everything they could and I told them from the day I took over this program, if we can walk out the door and somebody says that we played hard, then we have done our job and there's no doubt in my mind that my team played hard all week long.
Q. Talk about the growth of this squad from the beginning of the season up to now. Especially with the team being as young as it is.
BETH TORINA: Yeah, this team I think has come a long way. We have had our seniors really leading the way for that. I think we definitely had some ups and downs throughout the season. I think a big reason why we're sitting here is because we battled through the low points and we continued to find a way and fight. These guys never quit, they never stopped working, and they battled through a really tough SEC schedule and that's a big reason why we're standing here today. The seniors are walking out, but they're leaving the program in good shape. We had some really great superstar underclassmen who are now going to be upperclassmen and veterans and people like Sahvanna will be pushing us and leading us next year. With her at the helm and the two pitchers that are sophomores going to be returning, they're going to be in good shape.
Q. Talk about the home run. It's obviously a pretty big moment on a stage like that for you. And then also kind of what coach talked about, you with Bianka (Bell) going and some other people going you're going to be kind of the senior leader next year.
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: The home run, I mean it's just an amazing feeling. I think that off the bat, I didn't know it was going to be gone. I got a little luck there, it kept going up. But just the feeling that I got for like seeing my teammates when I came home was just something that's unforgettable. That's just truly who we are and we are one. We are all a team and I think that that's just one of the moments that you'll never get back and I'll always remember that. And what was the second question?
Q. Now that you're a senior as a leader, how will you take that role now?
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: Again, you just can't replace our five seniors, so I'm not trying to replace Bianka Bell or replace Sandi, I'm just going to try to lead the team and as best as I can and I think that I have other juniors and I think that they're such a good leading class and I think that we can all step up together and make this team come back here.
Q. You see kids who are here in Oklahoma City they're not from Louisiana, but they say their favorite team is LSU. What does that say about the LSU softball brand?
BETH TORINA: I think they're fun to watch. I love watching them play. I've been proud to be their coach. I think what we put on the field is fun. They have a good time. I think they play hard. They compete. I think they kind of draw you in. That's the Louisiana culture, friendly, everyone is nice to everybody, and I think our kids treat people that way and they just kind of draw you in. So, I'm proud to be at the helm of this program and I think we're in a good spot and happy that we're making new fans every time we're out and about and I really enjoyed the journey with this group this year.
Before we wrap up, I just want to say thanks for the media that's followed us all year. You guys are awesome. I know how late it is and we just appreciate you guys being with us.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
Game 12: Oklahoma 7, LSU 3
- In Game 12 of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, No. 3 Oklahoma defeated No. 10 LSU, 7-3, to close out Session 6. The Sooners improve to 55-7 on the year, while the Tigers end the season at 52-18.
- The victory marks OU’s 30th consecutive win, a program record (previous best 29 games, 2005). According to the NCAA record book, it is the 19th longest streak all-time and the longest since Florida won 29 in a row in 2009.
- With the win in WCWS semifinal, Oklahoma advances to its fourth-ever WCWS Championship Series appearance with Game 1 against Auburn slated for Monday at 7 p.m. CT. OU has won two NCAA Championships (2000, ’13) in program history. The loss eliminates the Tigers from the 2016 WCWS, after making their fourth-ever semifinal appearance (2001, ’04, ’15, ‘16).
- Oklahoma improves to 20-14 in its 10th WCWS appearance (2000, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’16) while LSU falls to 10-10 all-time in its fifth appearance (2001, ’04, ’12, ’15, ‘16). The meeting between the Sooners and the Tigers was the third matchup between the two programs in the postseason and the second in the WCWS. OU previously fell to LSU and in the 2001 WCWS (2-1 in 13 innings).
- Freshman Shay Knighten led the way for the Sooners, going 2-for- 4 with two RBI and a run scored. The freshman also hit her team-best 13th home run, and second of the WCWS. Knighten also recorded her team-high 61st RBI of the season and her 18th multi-RBI game.
- Oklahoma’s Erin Miller was 2-for- 5 including two RBI. The senior has 28th multi-hit games this season and 52nd on her career, both of which are team highs. Additionally, Miller turned out her 16th multi-RBI game of the season and 39th of her career tonight.
- In the bottom of the third, LSU knotted up the score with a three-run home run Sahvanna Jaquish. The junior’s 13th homer of the year scored Sandra Simmons and Emily Griggs.
- Dating back to 2015, Oklahoma sophomore pitcher Paige Parker has tossed every inning in the circle for the Sooners during postseason play (95.0 IP). During the 2016 NCAA Tournament, Parker has amassed an 8-0 record, including three wins at the WCWS. With the victory, Parker improves to 36-3 on the season with a 1.65 ERA. She has won 26 straight appearances for the Sooners.
- In her first-ever WCWS appearance, LSU freshman pitcher Sydney Smith takes the loss. The freshman falls to 13-4 after giving up three earned runs to break the tie during a fourth-inning relief appearance (1.0 IP).
- The Sooners tallied 10 hits in the victory, while LSU recorded eight. Oklahoma improves to 50-3 when out-hitting its opponent.
- OU has now outscored its opponents across those three frames combined, 176-58.
- The attendance for session six was 8,828.