Game 11 Quotes and Notes: Florida 6, Baylor 3
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome you to day 4 of the Women's College World Series. Joined by Florida Head Coach Tim Walton, Stephanie Tofft, Briana Little, Taylor Schwarz, Kathlyn Medina, Hannah Rogers. We will start with comments from Coach Walton.
COACH WALTON: First of all congratulate Baylor on a tremendous season, going through the regional and going through Athens to get here obviously says a lot about their program and their club. And Whitney Canion, what a great ambassador to college softball. Just what she's been able to go through and how she represents, not only their university, but all student-athletes across the country. I think she's a firstclass individual. You know, proud of the way she represents Baylor and all she does but I’ve got to give my kids credit. I thought they came out on a mission today, really played well on defense. I think that set the tone for us; made some nice plays. Hannah pitched a wonderful game and had a wonderful regular part of the World Series, I guess, the pool play part. Now we begin the championship. But Hannah is throwing the ball well; defensively great and got some nice clutch hits; Steph breaking that game open with the first RBI, Taylor Schwarz, two-out hit. Just a lot of two-out nice hits and RBIs and Aubree was in the back; great squeeze bunt to give us that two-run cushion. The little things win games here in the College World Series and just proud of our kids for believing in us and believing in themselves and in their abilities and not trying to do too much. Here we are getting a chance and an opportunity to play for a national championship.
Q. Tim, I guess a lot of people would have thought after the first time you played them and after what they went through yesterday they would expect this to be easy and that was not the case. What did you expect out of Baylor?
COACH WALTON: I can tell you that being on the other side of that coin, winning an emotional game yesterday, in the fashion that they did, I know how draining it can be. And Whitney only threw a couple of innings yesterday. She was sharper today, there was no question, in the first inning. You could tell her velocity might have been up just a little bit. Her spin was tighter, she did a lot better job locating early and I think she set the tone.
Q. Stephanie and Tim, with Lauren Haeger. She is 1 for 10 in the series, and she was struggling. How important was it for you to make something happen in that four hole?
STEPHANIE TOFFT: I think Lauren is still doing her thing, working. She is still having good atbats. She's still fighting up there. I'm just trying to help out the team and hit when I can and trying to help out as much as I can.
Q. Just before the start of the 7th, you and the umpire and the chairman of the NCAA Rules Committee were having a huddle. I would be interested to know what you were talking about.
COACH WALTON: I don't know what you're talking about. I was talking to the umpire about a substitute but I didn't see the chairman of anything out there. I'm actually really confused.
COACH WALTON: Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about.
Q. Tim, can you talk a little about the mix of small ball, that you've added and getting the bigger hits and also about Hannah shutting the door after having the only trouble spot she's had? I think she retired the last 7 in order. And Hannah for you too on that.
COACH WALTON: I think obviously it was important the way she was throwing the ball great. We had a couple nice hits. They did a good job going with pitches. We didn't kick the ball around, so they had some nice hustle plays on their part. I think the small-ball mentality probably is getting a little bit overblown, in that the game is about getting singles and doing little things and it's not just about hitting home runs. And I think that's the identity that I tried to instill in our team last year, actually the year before that, because we have come here so many times and we don't hit the long ball and we don't win the games. We strike out double digit strikeouts and we can't manufacture runs, so I think having that in our back pocket when we need it is very important, very vital. At the end of the day you still have to have the right personnel in the right spots to be able to execute some things and I think that was huge.
HANNAH ROGERS: Just to continue to do everything and not over think anything and use my defense like I have all season. I mean, they've been doing a great job here and all year and continue to use them.
Q. Taylor after those backtoback hitbypitches, what were you looking for?
TAYLOR SCHWARZ: Honestly I was still looking for my batting glove on deck. So when I got in the batter's box I was just thinking honestly, get my pitch and she threw a pitch right there and I jumped on it.
Q. Coach Walton, could you talk about the possibility of playing Alabama and also playing Oregon in the championship series?
COACH WALTON: I can't speculate as to who is going to win the ball game, so I think the key for us is to be able to enjoy this moment and whenever our opponent is determined we will get focused on that. You know, like yesterday, Kentucky is up and you don't know who you're going to play and you spend too much time on one team and then you gotta turn around and spend more time. So we're not going to worry about who we're going to play until tonight when we get together and figure out who we're going to play.
Q. The way the 2012 season ended and the frustration of that, what has this sophomore class meant to you as well as in terms of recharging and rebooting?
COACH WALTON: You know, I think it's not only the sophomore class but the freshman class and the senior class; I think all the classes. But last year's club definitely had to come in and earn their stripes a little bit different than we'd done in the past. They will all tell you about going through the whole fall or most of the fall without their Gator heads on their tee shirts and things like that.
I have a lot of respect for our players and I think they've all bought in and they understand the workmanlike program we're going to run. We expect perfection in all areas. We expect them to be, you know good, and good people and learn how to turn the competitive juices off once the game is over. Learn how to be friendly to your teammates, be good friends to your teammates and to your opponents. And I think that's the part of the equation that I'm most proud about is that we can still go out there and compete, and compete in the right way. Once the game is over I feel confident that our players are doing things that we expect them to do just like their parents expect them to do.
Q. Stephanie, Coach Walton mentioned your team defense. Is that a strength that you guys have had all year? Also can you talk about the one where I think you went horizontal to snag a ball? Do you have time to think on something like that?
STEPHANIE TOFFT: Not really. It's kind of a reaction thing. We practice really hard every day; all of our defense works really hard. I think our defense is a big part of why we win.
I mean, everybody makes errors so it's not always perfect, obviously, but I mean, Coach puts a lot of time in with us on defense and everybody, I think is just really great.
Q. Follow up on that, Katie did you expect to be perfect?
KATHLYN MEDINA: Well, it's an expectation that I hold for myself. I strive to be perfect on the field for Hannah, Lauren, Delanie, whoever is pitching, and I think I can I speak for all of us when I say we try to make every play we can.
Q. Stephanie and Briana, both of you got hit. That seems to be a weapon for you guys, I think as team you've been hit by 70something pitches all year. Can you talk about crowding the plate and how that works in your favor?
STEPHANIE TOFFT: I was just looking for my pitch. I'm not looking to get hit, but if it's thrown at me I’ll take it; I'm not going to try to jump out of the way. I think that goes for all of us. If we're in a position where you get hit and it can score a run, I'm not going to jump out of the way.
BRIANA LITTLE: I would agree. I think the key is to get on base and put pressure on the defense. You take whatever you can get.
Q. Taylor, you came up with the bases load and got the 3run double. Coach is talking about doing the little things and that execution comes with runners on base, but it's a huge thing, 3 runs. So take us through your mentality. I know you were looking for your gloves, but how important is it? That's the epitome of execution there.
TAYLOR SCHWARZ: I had been struggling at the plate a little bit since we got here, but yesterday we had a day off and Coach Walton took the time to work with me on my swing. So today I was trying to relax. She is a great pitcher. She made some good pitches on me, and in my third at-bat, I got up there and I didn't think about bases loaded. I didn't want to get it in my head at all, I was just like, if she's going to throw it right there, I'm going to swing at it. She just happened to throw me an outside pitch, and I just stayed on it. So but you have to attribute that to the really great three atbats before me and that really got me ready for my atbat, to be honest.
Q. Stephanie, when Florida played for the title in 2011, where were you and were you watching?
STEPHANIE TOFFT: 2011, let's see — I think I was sitting at home on the couch, watching the World Series, because my season was already over as a freshman. That's where I was, at home.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: We're with Baylor. We have Head Coach Glenn Moore, Whitney Canion, Jordan Strickland and Kaitlyn Thumann. We will begin with a comment from Coach Moore.
COACH MOORE: Well, I'm extremely proud of my team. We came here to win this thing, and were dealt a big setback on the first day and had to recover from that. I thought we showed incredible fight, pride as we worked our way back to today and won an incredible comeback last night, of course. We didn't take the easy road to get here. I think it prepared us for this, but I doubt many people, other teams, had the road we had throughout the season, including travel adversity and playing on the road against tough teams, strength of schedule and then postseason.
I'm just really proud of the way the girls played both sides of the ball, but I have to point out a kid that has given everything she has to our program. Had to endure a lot of joking, because she is on Social Security now, apparently. (Laughter.)
She has spent her entire six years and milked everything her body had to give her. She gave it to our program, because she had such a passion to play and to pitch, with little reward after, other than the fact that she just loved the play the game.
We, of course, have benefited from that, our players have. And this year I'm really proud of the fact that we were able to put a good offense behind her and break a lot of records offensively and give her the support she needed. But we wouldn't be here without Whitney Canion. She got us here twice in her career, and I'm very proud of her as I am the rest of the seniors. But I'm extremely proud of Whitney.
Q. Whit, how did you feel out there today? It looked like you had your stuff a little more together than yesterday.
WHITNEY CANION: I've been struggling a little bit with not getting my rise ball where I wanted. Today I thought I came out and really used my other pitches a lot. Used my screw ball, drop curve and changeup and relied on those and got a lot of foul balls and popups and ground outs because of that. I was trying to work ahead and get them to foul pitches off and get them to chase after that. My body felt better today and just felt like, at the same time, toward the end of the game, I was really just going off adrenaline and knowing that this team, we could come back and score 6 or 7 runs in the last inning. So I just had to keep the team in it.
Q. Glenn, you talked about everything that Whitney has given the program. Was there any internal debate or maybe a debate with you and the coaching staff on whether to start her or Heather, and how did you feel about just her performance specifically today? Because like John said, it did seem like she was sharper today.
COACH MOORE: I mean, we she is, I think, the best pitcher in the nation. She's worn out. She has given everything to our sport, our program. You know, she didn't throw a ton of pitches. We thought we had the inside track on this thing. We knew she wasn't throwing her best ball. She knew she wasn't. There was never a doubt as long as she could go whether we were going to go back with her today. I thought she threw a good game overall; didn't have her best stuff. She's dominated lineups that are very strong for her entire career and taken the bat completely out of lineups that are hitting .350, .360.
She is very capable. She has given everything she has and that's what she had left. She left it all on the field. She can hold her head up high and walk away having set records that will never be broken. Q. For Jordan and K.K., the magic started a little bit early this time. You guys started in the 5th inning. Talk about that, because I think Hannah Rogers had like 32 and a third scoreless innings in a row. Talk about getting it going and getting you guys back in it.
JORDAN STRICKLAND: We just fight. This team, we just work together so well and after last night and that unbelievable game we felt like we could accomplish anything. And we can. So today we just kept fighting, and we had a lot of senior leadership in the huddle telling us to keep pushing, keep pushing. We had some good swings on Hannah, and so it was nice to finally break through in whatever inning that was. We tried to keep that really going but just kind of fell short.
KAITLYN THUMANN: I think that shows a lot about the fight of this team and it really is incredible. And that inning that it started I think Jordan had a really good hit—Sarah started it. Anyway, hitting is contagious, and I think with this team we are really good at passing the bat. I knew I hadn't gotten a hit off Hannah in the past whatever week, and I was determined when I got up to beat her. And it happened. So just passing the bat.
Q. Whitney, what have you learned about perseverance in your six years at Baylor, and does that help when you get into jams in games where there are runners on base?
WHITNEY CANION: Yeah, I feel that word is capitalized, in all caps for me, just through all the adversity and knowing my knee was the toughest thing I've gone through. So that was probably really when I learned what that was.
I've been in a lot of jams, I’ve left a lot of runners on base. I kind of feel like sometimes I get more amped up once they get on base. That's how I've been my whole career. You kind of see me I may throw a little harder when runners are on base. I just feel like I'm always trying to leave them on base no matter what happens. I'm going to give up hits here and there, I'm going to walk some people and everything, but really just trying to leave 'em on.
This team kept me like I'm gassed, but this team, knowing their fight this week, kept me pitching because I know I didn't have my best stuff But to see last night's game, how could you not give it your all, just because of how they performed.
Q. Whit, in the fifth inning you got the first 2 outs, you got an infield single, then you hit a couple. Were you starting to get worn down by then or were they just crowding the plate?
WHITNEY CANION: No I was kept trying to jam 'em to get them the right handers — to get them to foul 'em off. Really, I lost a little bit on my drop curve. My arm came out and I was really just trying to get them to foul it off where they were out on the plate. I would say I was trying to keep working 'em in and working 'em in, and I hit a batter hit several, which isn't like me. But I'd rather hit them than give up a home run, so I think that was what I was really trying to do was just jam 'em.
Q. Glenn, your thoughts on Florida's pitcher and how well Florida is playing right now?
COACH MOORE: They're hitting on all cylinders. I think they have a thousand fielding percentage, a pitcher throwing like Hannah's throwing; hard to beat. It wasn't the team we wanted to pick, I guess, to start the tournament off with, and then have the type of game we had, for sure. But Tim's got 'em playing really well and a talented bunch of athletes. I could go on and on about the way they're playing. They're playing with a lot of confidence and made us work really hard for anything we were able to get off them today.
Q. Glenn, I think Coach Walton talked about a game like last night can be so emotionally draining. It can take a lot out of a team. Were you worried about that, and what did the team show you the way that they fought?
COACH MOORE: He's exactly right. It's typical when you win a big game. You see it a lot in football; you win a big game, and the next week you get upset by a team who is not nearly as good as your previous opponent the previous week. It can be draining.
I felt like we were a little quiet this morning. I don't know that it concerned me. I thought we were I guess probably thinking back to Thursday's game when I felt we needed the edge knocked off a little bit; I thought it might benefit us a little bit. We just got beat by a team that was better than us today. I'm not sure we were playing our best ball right now, but we have played it to get here and at times we've seen it. But they're playing great ball. They're playing exceptional and we really needed them to not be on their best game and us have a good game to have a chance to move on out of this twogame day.
Q. This question is for Whitney. Talk about what you've meant to the program and what has the program meant to you?
WHITNEY CANION: I've absolutely loved playing here. I've loved this coaching staff. This is my life and I've been here six years; like you said, it's a joke. But I have absolutely loved playing here, loved my decision at Baylor. Each team I have great memories; still have friendships I will have forever at Baylor. I love Waco, everything about this team. This team this year was special and what a way to go out my senior year. So very happy in my career.
Q. Glenn, your third World Series appearance, second time to make the semifinals. You gotta feel great about where the program is.
COACH MOORE: I want to win the dang thing. I'm happy with what we've done, but I'm not satisfied. You know, you just want to win it. That's why you play it. Years you don't get here, and I have trouble watching it on TV. I had some warriors this year, and I thought we had a shot at it. But God's been good to us. He's blessed us with not only our great facility — Baylor in all sports is on the rise and has been for quite a while. It's just a higher standard there, and I'm just I'm just blessed to be a part of this program and great university, and I look forward to what the future holds because we have some good athletes coming down the line.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
In the 11th game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series, No. 5 seed Florida defeated No. 13 seed Baylor, 6-3. The Gators improved to 53-12 overall this year, while the loss ended the Bears’ season. Baylor finished the year with a 49-16 mark.
With the win, the Gators advanced to the WCWS Championship Series and will face No. 1 seed Oregon or No. 2 seed Alabama in the best-of-three series. Game 1 is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. CT (ESPN2). The finals appearance will be the third for Florida, with the others coming in 2009 (lost to Washington) and 2011 (lost to Arizona State).
In its sixth WCWS appearance (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14), Florida improved to 15-11 all-time in the event (3-0 this season). Baylor finished 2-2 in this year’s tournament, its third WCWS appearance (2007, ’11, ’14). It fell to 5-6 all-time at the event. The win over Baylor was the second for Florida in this year’s WCWS. The Gators also defeated the Bears in Thursday’s Game 1 by an 11-0 score in five innings.
Florida starting pitcher Hannah Rogers improved to 29-8 this season, throwing her third complete game of this year’s WCWS. The senior gave up three runs (all earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out two. Rogers is the NCAA active career wins leader with 126.
Florida senior Stephanie Tofft drove in the game’s first run with a two-out double in the third inning. Tofft finished the game 2 for 3 with two RBIs and one run scored. She is 11 for 24 (.458) with 8 RBIs in nine NCAA Tournament games this year
Florida junior Briana Little sent a triple to the center field wall in the fourth inning and scored on a base hit from sophomore Aubree Munro, increasing the Gators’ lead to 2-0. Little was 2 for 3 on the day with two runs. She is 4 for 8 in this year’s WCWS.
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, sophomore Taylor Schwarz belted a three-run double to give Florida a 5-0 advantage. She has a team-high-tying four RBIs in this year’s WCWS.
Junior Jordan Strickland put Baylor on the board with an RBI-double in the fifth inning, cutting Florida’s lead to 5-1. The run ended a 22.2 scoreless innings streak by the Florida defense. The last run the Gators had surrendered came on Sunday, May 25, in the fifth inning of the second Super Regional game against Washington.
Later in the fifth inning, junior Kaitlyn Thumann singled in two runs to draw the Bears within two, 5-3. The RBIs were her first of this year’s WCWS.
Baylor starting pitcher Whitney Canion fell to 31-12 in her senior season. Canion pitched a complete game, allowing six runs (all earned) on eight hits and three walks while striking out five.
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