Game 12 Quotes and Notes: Alabama 2, Oregon 0
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy, Jaclyn Traina, Molly Fichtner, Kaila Hunt, Haylie McCleney. We will start with an opening statement from Coach Murphy.
COACH MURPHY: First, congrats to Coach White and Oregon, they're a heck of a good team. This is similar to 2012 when we had to beat the Pac-12 champion today, Cal, and they were just as tough as Cal was that day; just a really, really good team. Again, for Jaclyn to shut out that offense, it's just incredible.
So you’ve got to tip your hat to Jac and our defense. And then we got a couple key hits. Usually in the postseason, you have to have the great starting pitcher, you have to have the great defense. And then the third ingredient is you have to have the key RBIs, and we were 3 for 3.
Q. Kaila, wondering what happened on that play, if you ever scored on a play like that, what was that move called?
KAILA HUNT: It was 32 and two outs and I was running on the pitch, and I took a peek and saw the ball was hit, but I didn't hesitate. Because there are two outs so it doesn't matter if she catches it or not I'm going to go to third, even if she flies and does catch the ball. I'm still going to go to third base. There was no hesitation and the catcher started to come across the plate, so I just tried to go to the inside. It was kind of awkward, because I usually try to go to the outside part of the plate. So I don't know, I haven't seen the replay but it felt pretty awkward.
KAILA HUNT: I thought I was. Of course.
Q. Haylie can you talk about the home run? It looked like y'all were expecting to see the left hander Hawkins from the start. What was the mental preparation for that and what did you see on that?
HAYLIE MCCLENEY: Just to stay on top of the ball I think was our main thing going in. The atbat, she started out with two pitches outside and she came in the third pitch. Just trust in my swing and trust in the preparation that we put in to face Hawkins, who is a phenomenal pitcher. You saw her; she made some of our hitters chase. But just trust in the preparation that she was going to come in at some point in the atbat and just taking a hack.
Q. Jaclyn, your thoughts on playing Florida again?
JACLYN TRAINA: They're a great team. We saw them once this year and we're just going to go into it like any other team. They're a good they're very good and we have to make quick adjustments during the game and play Alabama softball.
Q. Jackie, again, the 7th inning, the goahead run comes to the plate. Does it feel familiar?
JACLYN TRAINA: I mean it always feels familiar. I feel like it's always like that! (Laughter.) So I just pulled from those different times that I have been in those situations. I know that I can trust my defense, which makes it a lot easier. I know they're behind me so I didn't have any doubt.
Q. Molly two things. Can you talk about the hit that brought Kaila home and did you have any idea that she would try to score on that? And also talk about what Jaclyn looked like, what kind of velocity she had and everything else.
MOLLY FICHTNER: Yeah well, like Hunt said it was a 32, 2 out so I didn't want to do too much. I just wanted to put the ball in play; just see it long and get on top of it. I did see her come around. It was exciting. And Jackie, she is throwing awesome. She is hitting her spots, doing everything we need her to. We're mixing it up, great hitting team. We're going to face another great hitting team tomorrow, but she looks great.
Q. As a catcher, what would you do if you saw someone coming at you and then back off like that, the move that Kaila made?
MOLLY FICHTNER: I would just try to tag her.
Q. You’ve never seen anything like that before?
MOLLY FICHTNER: I would have to watch it in slow motion. I was running, so I didn't really see it.
Q. Questions for Kaila about Haylie. Lead-off hitters in the past have been people like Kayla Braud or Jen Fenton, slap hitters, not necessarily home run threats. Is that safe to say? Haylie is kind of an epitome of a fivetool player. What does it mean for you as a veteran player to have a player at the top of the lineup that can do so much with her speed and bat control and give you a home run like this? I don't know if you have anything on that, Coach, as well?
KAILA HUNT: Obviously it’s great to have someone who she has so many tools, I mean she can slap. If she needs to make an adjustment she's popping up, she can hit home runs, like you just saw. Having that in the top of the lineup is huge for us, especially down the lineup. You know that she can get the key hit and she can get the RBIs, you know? And she can also get on base if she needs to. She can bunt if she has to get on. She can hit the double in the gap to score a runner, if we have second and third. So having those tools is huge for our lineup to turn it over and pass it down and start it off. Having all those tools is huge for our lineup.
COACH MURPHY: I think she reminds me of a female Ichiro. That's the best way I can describe her because he can do all those things and so can she.
Q. Patrick, twopart question. One, did Haylie follow all your baserunning instructions in the first? And secondly, did the early opportunities give you the feeling that your team was going to break through against them?
COACH MURPHY: One, the rule is at you or behind you, so she did follow the rules. She didn't get in front of it, so she couldn't advance. Then I think she didn't I can't speak for her, but I think she thought that the girl made a great play.
So she did follow the rules. I forget the other question, what was it?
Q. About breaking through.
COACH MURPHY: Oh, yeah. You’ve got to credit Mike for having the guts to start the second kid. We watched her last night against Oklahoma and she made a couple kids look really bad, so and hell of a drop ball. But I thought we would eventually score against her and I think he probably did make the right move when he did pull her for Hawkins.
You know, you just never know in this situation. The toughest part, I think, of coaching is when to pull a pitcher. How long do you leave her, when do you pull her? Do you go with your No. 2 kid, or No. 1 in this case. It's just a tough situation for both sides, really.
Q. Patrick, was your lineup set for Hawkins? Was it a lefthanded pitcher lineup?
COACH MURPHY: Yeah, because we only had Haylie in the top spot. But I felt good about Jackie hitting either one and then Danny has been our best kid all week in BP. She has been our “Jas” from a couple years ago. Every BP, she has been ripping the ball and all four would agree with me. She went 1 for 2, and Jackie 2 for 3, so it really didn't hurt us.
Q. And Jaclyn and your defense, the top 3 in their lineup has been good all year, one of them gets on twice and never gets to second, and the other two never get on.
COACH MURPHY: That's a scary threesome, Ceo other than Kayla Braud, I've never seen another drag bunter like her and we knew it was coming. You saw how far she beat it out. It's incredible. I hope she is wearing a red, white and blue uniform this summer. She is terrific. But Jackie, the key thing was no walks. Eight strikeouts but no walks and she forced them to swing the bat.
Q. What's the scouting report on Florida and how does the dynamic change now that you're going to a series?
COACH MURPHY: They're a really good team. I think it's a respectful rivalry. Everybody up here and everybody on our team respects the heck out of them. I don't think it's a nasty rivalry at all. I would consider Tim and I good friends. And it was such a long time ago, I think it was the middle of March when we went down there. I think three or four of their kids starting now weren't starting then, so they've had some movement in their lineup and so have we. I think both teams are obviously much better right now. That's a long time ago. Two months of hard work and I think it's going to be a heck of a good series.
Q. Patrick, how does the challenge of getting back to a final series these past two seasons compare to trying to get to a final for the first time?
COACH MURPHY: Well, I would have said it was harder to get to the first one, but now I think it's even harder to get to the second one.
There is a huge target on our back. Everybody has seen us throughout the whole year on TV. It makes it very difficult to surprise somebody with Jackie's pitch, or with a Haylie swinging or bunting or whatever. There are no more surprises in our game. It's difficult to surprise somebody with a move or a play or anything like that. So I think it's much more difficult to get there the second time. I kept reading the scoreboard when it introduced the Alabama girls, it said Alabama, the only school in Division I softball that's been to all 10 super regionals. That's difficult itself, but to get back here in a championship series with a team that's been here three times, I believe, Florida, it's a great feeling for all of us involved with the program.
Q. Molly, you transfer in, maybe what you're feeling right now. This ultimate experience that you're going through, give us a sense of that. I used to go to UTSA for baseball tournaments and I have a perspective. Second part of the question is being an Academic AllAmerican, the example someone like Kaila sets for that. I don't know if you realize you have four Academic AllAmericans, there are only five in this tournament. The other is Whitney Canion, so a twopart question there about your transition and the academic.
MOLLY FICHTNER: Oh, yeah, obviously it's an honor to be up here, it's a dream come true. As far as the Academic AllAmerican, when I transferred my goal was to surround myself with people that want to make me better. Coming to Alabama that's what happened. I stepped up my game because of these girls next to me.
Q. Patrick, Kayla and Haylie, earlier in the postseason your normal big hitters weren't getting as much production. Do you feel going into the final everyone that you will need to start to break through is doing that?
COACH MURPHY: I think so. I think we're hitting on all cylinders. In this tournament alone, and at super regionals, too, we've had a different hero every night. We said it the other day before we played Oklahoma. That's the greatest thing about this team — 1 through 9 or anybody on the bench can come through in the clutch. It's been Leona, it's been Peyton, it's been Runyon, it's been Jackie, it's been Haylie. That's why it's so much fun to coach this team. There's a different hero every night.
KAILA HUNT: Yeah, I think he hit the nail on the head. Pretty much that's exactly what I was going to say. Throughout this lineup anybody in any part of the lineup can come through for us, and I think that's the biggest thing for us. If we get runners on at second base and it's our 8 hitter, there is no doubt that they can get that hit.
I think that's it is biggest thing for us, is, you know, we have to have that timely hitting and in order to get timely hitting you can't just have two or three people that can only do that. I think that's the special thing about this team is that anybody can get that hit at any time.
HAYLIE MCCLENEY: Yeah, agree with what they said. We're one of those teams that we can attack you 1 through 9 but we can also attack you 1 through 18; it doesn't matter who is up to the plate. In the pressure situation we have the utmost confidence in whoever is up at the plate to get the job done. I think that's really big for us just to get you're attacking 1 through 9 but we can also attack you 1 through 18.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everyone.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Oregon Head Coach Mike White, Kailee Cuico, Courtney Ceo, Cheridan Hawkins and Alexa Peterson. We will start with a statement from Coach White.
COACH WHITE: Thank you. A tough loss for us today. Played an excellent team in Alabama. They pitch well, played some good defense, had timely hitting. That's what it takes to win those big games. I'm so proud of my team, the way we battled right through to the end.
Secondly, I would like to thank our administration for providing us all the people that we need to make this a successful season, especially on the road, having the managers to help out, you know, press, everything that goes along. So many people work behind the scenes and I want to take the time to thank them for that. I want to thank the City of Oklahoma and ASA Softball, USA Softball, NFCA and everyone associated with that. The NCAA as well. Of course the umpires, thank you for your time.
And right now it's back to the drawing board for us. It's always hard to end your season, but there is only one team that's going to leave this tournament happy — well, what I consider happy.
But it is what it is. It's a tough loss, and hopefully in taking that next step I think we've got better each year we've competed. Hopefully we've taken that next step and we've learned something from this experience to compete next year and make it back and make it into the finals. We were just short of our goal. To my seniors — Courtney Ceo, Alexa Peterson, Kailee Cuico — what a tremendous leadership role they were this year, really a great blend of talent, fun, leadership.
They kept it “real” so to speak, and, you know, I couldn't ask for any more. I think the classes below them learned so much from them on the way to run things and, you know, because we’re only coaches and we can only be there so long. It's really what we do off the field, when we're not around or not looking that makes a big difference. The ownership of this crew, the three of them had, was tremendous. Thank you.
Q. Mike and Cheridan, can you tell us what you saw on the play at the plate on the missed tag or what was ruled a missed tag?
COACH WHITE: I had a pretty good view, obviously, I was in the camera well right there, and the ball clearly beat her by a long way. Got the tag on her. So if it was 50/50, it should be out, in my opinion. That's the way whenever the ball beats you, you should be out. I don't care how close it was, and I consider her out. That's just my opinion. Of course it doesn't matter what my opinion is; it matters what the umpire calls. It's just a shame it couldn't have been a 1run game going into the last inning but, you know, he's got to call it the way he sees it, and that's the end of it.
CHERIDAN HAWKINS: Pretty much the same thing. I, as well, thought it was a really close play. Obviously that's his call.
Q. Coach, can you talk about the factors behind your mound or circle decision today?
COACH WHITE: Yeah. I think you could say, hey, let's get to the next game, let's get to the next game, but we're here to win the tournament and if we're going to win the tournament we can't just rely on Cheridan Hawkins. We've got to have our other players play and make contributions and if we're going to do that. Karissa has always pitched well in the heat and she did well. She gave me exactly what I wanted out of her — to get me at least once, twice through the order. And then if it's close, bring in Cheridan and we'll see if we can get to that next game.
She did exactly what I wanted from her; tremendous job by her. And for Cheridan to come in after that leadoff hit and getting out of that inning — I can't be any more proud of what my team did. We just didn't put the numbers up on the board and a lot of it has to do with Jackie Traina. What a tremendous career, so far; of course it's still going. One of them is going to win a World Series. I'm not sure which one, they're both equally talented, and it comes down to inches. If you look at this game, how many line drives did we hit in the game? Home run, maybe 3 feet foul. That's this game. That's the way it goes. That pitch to Haylie McCleney, three inches further inside, that's a jam job to right field. Again, that's part of the game. That's why we play it, and that's what makes it a tremendous game — the unknowns and the factors there when you play in the big limelight.
Q. Mike, Kailee and Alexa, can you tell us more especially Mike from your perspective with your background, what makes Traina so effective? We can all see the 70 or 71 on the board, but I would assume there is more to it than that.
COACH WHITE: She just challenges you around the plate, and sometimes you’ve got to get going, and you’ve got to be good at stopping your swing. She didn't really use the changeup, which was surprising; maybe she thought I was going to pick it or something, I don't know. But she just flat out blew it by us. Gotta give her props for that.
She is able to throw different pitches out there. She can throw the low curveball, the screw, the drop, so it's hard to sit on any one pitch. Truthfully, I’ve got to look at the tape. I don't know if we made enough adjustments. We might have given up too much of the outside corner, and against good pitching, I've been telling the ladies all year they're going to take advantage of anything you give 'em. And I think she took advantage of them.
ALEXA PETERSON: I think she did a really good job controlling what she could control, so whatever the umpire was giving her she was using that towards her advantage. She would make a curveball outside and if she got us to swing at it, she would move it two more inches out and she was doing a good job of controlling what she wanted to control and made it tough on us hitters.
KAILEE CUICO: I agree, I think she thought we were being maybe a little too aggressive, and she moved a couple inches off and we were going for some big swings when maybe we needed to “short up” a little bit. But she did a good job at placing it, I think.
Q. Courtney, could you talk about the environment and being on the big stage and what the fan support has meant to you and your teammates?
COURTNEY CEO: The big stage is what we live for. This is what we've worked for since we were young and what we worked for all year. Being out here and being able to play in front of all these fans and little kids and our parents and all the people back home, it's just an amazing feeling.
It definitely lives up to everything that everyone has ever told us that it was going to be. It just means a lot to us to be able to represent our school and our family here as a team and our families back home as well.
Q. Coach, you've seen both Alabama and Florida this week. How do you see those two matching up in that championship?
COACH WHITE: Great question, I'm not sure. It’s going to be whoever gets most of their breaks. They're both pitching very well. Obviously Hannah Rogers has given up her first runs in I don't know how many innings, and there are no secrets between those two. They know each other pretty well. Defensively, Florida, I think may have a little bit of an edge. The way they play the middle infield there is pretty tight. Not to say that anybody is bad, but I'm just (saying) who's got the edge there. And offensively, possibly Florida may have a little bit of an edge there; but they're very equal. It's going to be a great series. I wish I could stick around to watch it, but I've got to get on a flight tomorrow morning at 6:00. It's going to be a good series, yeah.
Q. Coach, we were talking to Coach Murphy about McCleney and what a unique leadoff hitter she is with all the tools she has — with her speed, game, and bat control — and then to get the big home run. How would you assess her play in the college game right now?
COACH WHITE: What is she, a freshman? Sophomore? It’s early in her career yet. She's got a way to go but typically what happens is people make adjustments and we see how they handle those types of things. But she is a very talented player, obviously, to come up on the big stage and hit the big home run and take advantage of the few times we came inside on her. That's a player. You take the most of an opportunity given to you. Hats off to her. She is a great outfielder, does a good job out there; great allaround ballplayer. Props to her. I think we may have a leadoff hitter a little bit better, but I might be biased.
Q. Coach, you had talked about actually, this is the farthest that the Ducks have been here at the World Series. Can you address the degree of difficulty of getting to the championship series?
COACH WHITE: I think you got to win both of those first two games; that's the big hurdle we’ve got to get to. We keep making steps, going forward. That's the good news. Obviously we took a little step back last year but I tell you what, it's hard just to get here let alone to the championship series. Things gotta go your way. You gotta get some breaks and even some little things there are no little things when you get here. You have to have everything. That includes getting good umpire calls, the luck. There is so much to it, but you have to have a talented team, and this year I had an excellent team.
The big factor for us was could we pick up from Jess Moore leaving and Sam Pappas and Allie Burger and Kaylan Howard, and I think we answered that. You know as much I said yesterday about Oklahoma having some question marks (entering the year), I think there were a lot of question marks surrounding this team. We started out the season ranked 15th or 16th, I believe — I could be wrong on that one — and picked to finish third in the Pac-12. But we repeated as champions, and that's not easy. I don't care what you say about the Pac-12, it's not that bad of a conference. To win that backtoback, tremendous. To get back to the College World Series, tremendous, from where people were picking us and what we did.
Cheridan Hawkins stepped up like the champion she is. Karissa Hovinga stepped up on the big stage. My corners, Ceo and Cuico, with a tremendous leadership job. Nikki Udria as a freshman — I mean, wow, did you see her glove out there, the way she handles balls and attacks it? Tremendous. Karine Shaver, a kid who didn’t even play shortstop. This is a talented team and I'm excited because next year we have four more kids coming in that will be able to do the job for us. They'll never replace these guys; they can't do that, but we're ready to build on top of what we have achieved so far.
Q. Courtney, I know your sister played college softball so you probably have perspective about different programs within the Pac-12, Big 12, what have you. How would you assess what Oregon softball stands for now? Not so much the mission statement, but what you guys want to be known as, you as seniors, what you want your legacy to be and helping the program move forward?
COURTNEY CEO: I think in general just from our freshman year we wanted to be looked at as one of the top teams in the nation and throughout the four years that we've been here, we've absolutely accomplished that, getting better each year and setting a standard for our upper classmen as well as our lower classmen. We do things right and do things with class. We help each other out. We're a family here. We use that word a lot and it's not we're just not throwing it around, we really are a family. We care about each other on and off the field. We care about our staff; not just our coaches, but everyone else involved. Our managers, our equipment people, our administration, everyone. We care about them as a family.
Just the standard that we set, you take care of people, and you use manners, and you be morally correct people. It's more about our personalities. And then we also have talented people on the field, so just all around good people and that's what our team brings.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys.
No. 2 seed Alabama defeated No. 1 seed Oregon in the 12th game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series by a score of 2-0. The Crimson Tide improved to 53-11 overall this year, while the loss eliminated the Ducks from the tournament. Oregon finished the season with a 56-9-1 record.
With the win, its ninth straight at the WCWS, Alabama will face No. 5 seed Florida in the best-of-three Championship Series. Game 1 is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. CT. In the regular season series between the two squads in Gainesville, Fla., Alabama took two of three games. The Crimson Tide won on March 21 (4-2) and March 23 (7-0), while the Gators took the March 22 meeting, 7-1. The teams have met three times in WCWS history, with Florida winning all three.
Alabama will be making its second appearance in the WCWS Championship Series. In 2012, the Crimson Tide defeated Oklahoma in three games to claim its first national title.
The game marked the second time in Alabama history that the Crimson Tide, as the No. 2 seed, met the No. 1 seed in a Sunday game. In 2012, Alabama beat top-seeded California, 5-2.
In its ninth WCWS appearance (2000, ’03, ’05, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’12, ’14), Alabama is now 16-15 all-time in the event, with a 3-0 record this season. Oregon finished 2-2 in its third WCWS appearance (1989, 2012, ’14) and dropped to 4-6 all-time in the tournament.
Alabama senior pitcher Jaclyn Traina improved to 26-3 on the season with the shutout. She allowed four hits and no walks while striking out eight. Through three games at the WCWS, Traina has allowed just one run and nine hits over 21.0 innings pitched (0.33 ERA) with 23 strikeouts.
The game remained scoreless through four-and-a-half innings before sophomore Haylie McCleney put Alabama on the board with a solo home run to right field. The homer was her first in a month (last was against Missouri on May 1), her 10th of the season and the first in her NCAA Tournament career.
With a leadoff bunt single in the first inning, Oregon senior Courtney Ceo extended her hitting and on-base streaks to 19 and 32 games, respectively. Ceo went 2 for 3 in the contest, bringing her season hit total to a nation-leading 104, tied for 14th most in a single season in NCAA Division I history.
Alabama junior Jadyn Spencer has now hit safely in six of Alabama’s eight NCAA Tournament games (13 for 28; .464). She went 2 for 3 today.
Alabama senior Ryan Iamurri pinch hit in the sixth inning and registered her first career WCWS hit in just her second-ever at-bat in the event. She pushed a bunt past charging Oregon third baseman Ceo.
In relief, Oregon sophomore Cheridan Hawkins fell to 35-6 on the season. She gave up two runs (both earned) on four hits and one walk, while striking out three in 2.2 innings. Junior Karissa Hovinga started the game and pitched 3.1 innings, allowing five hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Hovinga finished the tournament without allowing a run in 7.2 innings of work.
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