Sunday, June 5, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Auburn – 8, Florida State – 7
Clint Myers, Carlee Wallace, Jade Rhodes, Madi Gipson, Kaylee Carlson, Kasey Cooper
THE MODERATOR: Good evening. At this time we have Auburn University on the dais. Coach, we'll start with general comments about the game.
CLINT MYERS: I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of ladies that sit to the right and ones that are not here. They did a phenomenal job. It wasn't as pretty as we would have liked. It wasn't as easy as we would have liked. But I think you saw the fight. I think you saw the heart. They beat a very talented, very good Florida State team with great talent and great coaching. I am extremely proud of the Auburn softball team, and I think I'll stop there.
Q. Kasey, I think this game is going to be remembered for the home runs and the game- winning at-bat there at the end. Your bare-hand play to save a run in the first inning, Victoria's (Draper) diving catch, that's really what almost saved the game for you guys.
KASEY COOPER: What was your question?
Q. How important were those plays, the bare- handed play and the diving catch?
KASEY COOPER: That's what Auburn softball is, and you know, we make the good plays and the great plays come along. Playing Auburn softball, we expect you to make the routine plays, and the great plays will come. That's what our coaches live by, and they knew that when she dove for the ball that Tiffany (Howard) would be right behind her if she didn't catch it. Right when she came up, she said, guys, I got that one. We were so proud of her, and we're definitely pulling for that No. 1 on SC Top 10 right there.
Q. Can you kind of take us through what's going through your head when you're running those bases in the eighth?
MADI GIPSON: I wasn't stopping. Coach earlier in the year stopped me on a triple, and I wasn't stopping this time.
CLINT MYERS: I wasn't stopping her.
Q. Clint, when you took this job three years ago, did you have any idea at that time that this level of success would be possible this quickly?
CLINT MYERS: I'm looking for a humble way to answer that question, because the answer is yes. The answer is yes. I believed in the people I work with, that if they buy in, which we've proven that they have, and if they work and commit, great things happen. I mean, we've still got softball to play, but having the opportunity to play for a national championship is something that we've talked about since we got there, and again, it's them buying in. It's them buying into the hard work and to the commitment of practice and weight room and everything else.
Q. Coach, staying with that topic, what was the one basic thing that you saw when you took the job? Was it recruiting, facility, players that were already there, individual conversations once you got on campus?
CLINT MYERS: No, I can answer that pretty easy. I found a bunch of young women that really wanted to win, and they really wanted to learn, and they were willing to do anything. As soon as we got their trust, they would run through a brick wall. I mean, Madi said it. She wasn't stopping. She knew she could make a triple. I wasn't stopping her because she was looking fast. Again, it is a team game. You look at what happened, Kaylee started and finished and won, and we had a little freshman, her first time in the College World Series, they wanted to win. They still want to win. There's still work that hasn't been completed.
Like I said, they're great young women that have a mission.
Q. Carlee, you probably had the best view of Vic's catch being at home. I think it was obvious that she was going to lay out for it. What was going through your mind just watching that play unfold there?
CARLEE WALLACE: Well, when I saw it go off the bat, I thought, this is going to do some damage. I was kind of thinking, oh, no, and she's like a golden retriever out there. It's ridiculous. You throw a ball, and she's like, ball, ball, and then she goes and gets the ball. Would you not agree?
She is just a — I swear, she tracks everything down, so to be honest with you, I really wasn't that surprised she caught it, because she's just that fast, and she makes me look like a snail. No, I had no doubt in my mind that she was going to catch that ball, no way, and then if she didn't, Tiff was literally two steps behind her ready to pick it up and throw somebody out. Honestly it was kind of routine for us because if you saw her at practice, she's doing the same junk at practice, laying out for things, like man, you're going to hurt yourself. She did an awesome job, and from my view, it was really pretty.
Q. Kasey and Jade, Jessica Burroughs of Florida State has been almost unhittable throughout most of the World Series and you both hit home runs off of her. I think your home run is still sailing somewhere. What were you seeing out from Burroughs today?
JADE RHODES: To be honest, I was just trying to hit the ball. You know, Corey (Myers) is behind me saying stay in my legs, stay in my legs because that's the strongest thing on my body, so the minute I heard him say that, I was just kind of sink down in a squat and don't use my upper body at all. Just kind of use my legs.
She's a great pitcher. She faced one of the best teams yesterday, and I mean, she dominated. Coming in, we had — we know we had to hit and see the ball and kind of just lay off the stuff that she's been getting people out with all year, and I think me and Cooper and the whole rest of our lineup did a great job with that.
KASEY COOPER: Well, when I got up, Vic and Tiff both had put the ball in play on the first pitch, and the defense made great plays, so unless I was going to do a Cardinal sin of softball, my automatic first pitch was a take. My first two at-bats, I didn't get my hips square so my body wasn't completely back to center, and my goal was to stay a little bit higher. Jade's goal is to get lower and mine was to stay a little bit higher on the backside. And it worked out for us. There's a reason Jessica Burroughs is an All-American, and she pitched a great game, and she had a great career.
Q. Kaylee, you were out there for Kasey's great defensive play but you weren't for Vic's play. As a pitcher what's it like to see your girls going all out for an out?
KAYLEE CARLSON: It means a lot. It was a dogfight out there and having them make plays and get our backs all game, that's what we do and that's what we preach, so it was nice.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about (Rachael) Walters. Sticking with her in the seventh, what was the thought process because after you give up a three-run homer like that, momentum shifts, what made you stick with her?
CLINT MYERS: They didn't score anymore. They just made it a little bit more exciting. No, there were some thoughts that were going on. Corey handles the pitchers. We talked about that, and I trust him. He had a plan, and he knew what he was doing. But again, it just kind of goes back to what we've talked about all along. It's having a plan, going out and staying with your plan, even through adversity, and making things happen. And trusting the people that are out there. Just trusting them. I mean, it's a win-or-lose situation, and we made the switch the next inning. Kaylee came in, we got the three outs, and the game is over. It's the trust and the plan that Corey has.
Q. Kaylee, if you could just talk about your performance today, obviously kind of a rocky start there but coming back in at the end and getting it done.
KAYLEE CARLSON: Like, he had said, I started out pretty not so good and then having Mad(i) Gipson come in and shut it down, that's kind of key and then when she struggled, Rachael came in and shut it down. And when she struggled I knew that I had to go in there and fight for them like they fought for me, so I was just putting it out there and playing for them and then of course our team was getting our back every inning and scoring runs and keeping us in the game, so I was just trying to do that for them.
Q. Carlee, you had a big day at-bat on this day a year ago, too, the same point in the tournament. Just talk about your home run which really came at a pretty big time.
CARLEE WALLACE: Basically I had had enough. I'm being real. I had had enough. I had probably — it was a great team win yesterday and I had no reason to hang my head yesterday, but personally being real with myself, that might have been one of the worst offensive days I have had in a while.
So I kind of just regrouped, and I just — I was like, forget this, I'm just going to go up there and get my hacks in, which usually about this time last year when I did that last year, and this time of year, I don't know, I just don't really have much of a choice. So I don't know, I went up there and I knew that she — from film from last year I knew that they were going to work me outside because I popped up every pitch outside when we played them at home, so I knew I had to stay on top of the ball and keep my palm up like Coach says all the time, and it ended up working out for me today.
Q. Coach, Walters retired Alex Powers with the based loaded two straight innings. What does that say about her character and how big were those two innings?
CLINT MYERS: Well, again, you're talking about a team full of characters, and I don't mean that as a pun or anything funny, but they were phenomenal. I mean, the fight in all of them, the never quit, go out there and do your best. When you look in the mirror tomorrow, you've got to like what you see looking back at you, and they did that today. I mean, it's a game in which there's going to be a winner and loser, but if you go out there and give it your best and you train to do that each and every day, that's what they did today. They trained hard and came out on top because of the way they played and the way they fought.
Q. Jade, when the coaches came in a couple years ago, I know one of the first things they said to you is that you guys were going to go to the World Series and you guys were going to win a World Series, and I know some of you kind of chuckled, like okay, you Arizona crazies. Now that you're here and you're two wins away, has it hit yet, reflecting back to that day when they said those words to you guys?
JADE RHODES: It hits me every now and then because I have people come up to me and say that, you know, you've only got three more days of playing softball in college. I go back in my room, shed some tears so no one can see me because I hate crying. I think last year when we made it is when we all bought in. I mean, the freshmen that came in when he got here, they automatically bought in because that's all they knew. So when I first came here to the College World Series last year is when I really bought in, and now to see that we're actually going and playing three more days, like we said last year, is pretty awesome.
Q. Coach, I know this is still a long way off for them, but just in case because I don't think we'll get you guys pregame before the World Series final, if it does happen to end up being LSU, your thoughts on the SEC Tournament championship game turning into the National Championship Series, and what are your thoughts on LSU and the job Beth has done?
CLINT MYERS: Well, I think it would be pretty awesome personally. I mean, the idea of having an all- SEC World Series championship, you know, we're on record as saying that the SEC is the toughest conference. We had four teams here this year. We had five here last year. You always pull for the teams in your conference. You know, they know us, we know them. It would be great softball, regardless. But it would really say a lot about our conference if we could — if LSU can take two from Oklahoma.
Q. And the job Beth (Torina) has done?
CLINT MYERS: Oh, I mean, you know, the whole conference, and Beth is one of many great coaches in here that have really done a magnificent job within the conference. You know, she has had a great year and their team has had a great year, and I hope they win tonight.
Lonni Alameda, Cali Harrod, Jessica Burroughs, Alex Powers
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, I'd first like to thank the NCAA for always moving this event forward, and I think there's so much more room to grow for fastpitch softball and it's awesome to see the crowds here and the Hall of Fame Stadium here and the ASA and everything they do for it. This is where the dreams of little softball players want to be, and we got that experience. I'm just so grateful for everyone putting their time and effort into making this experience for us.
As for our program, I don't think we could be more proud of the steps we've taken for Florida State softball. This is the team 33, and they've really taken the legacy a step further. We just talk about the process, and you couldn't be more proud of the fight they had from Game 1, how much we've learned, to today just leaving it all out there.
The people to my right were outstanding in that, but it was a full team effort. Every single person in the dugout made a huge effort for this team to give everything they had. It's an L, but it's truly a win for us because we are a better program and we're going to move forward and be stronger.
Q. Cali, after you hit that three-run homer, what's going through your mind? Are you thinking,”We've got the momentum take this game?”
CALI HARROD: Yeah, I was pretty excited but I was just happy I could come through for the team and just give us that momentum going out into the field into the next at-bats. It was just really awesome coming into the dugout and my teammates were so excited for me, and like Coach said about the process and just taking it one pitch at a time, so really what was going through my head was just, OK, next pitch.
Q. Coach, just talk about Jessica; to pitch a complete game and put her right back out there and for her to do — I know she gave up the home run but to keep persevering?
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, J.B. had an outstanding day. She's been so consistent for us, not only pitching wise, but as a leader for us, too. Her tutelage for Meghan King has really grown a one-two punch for us and I think that's something I'm very lucky as a pitching coach to have, just the pride they have of the bullpen. We really got something today. She's always been confident, but we had the up-down, we had the changeup, she was confident with throwing it, and it showed up, and I couldn't be more proud of her. But I think she's proud of herself, too, because we put a lot of work into that, and that comes out for your players to have that and see that. You kind of get that proud mom moment, and she was pretty outstanding today for us.
Q. Jessica, I know it's still really raw, but can you look back over the season and think, hey, we really did something with such a young group?
JESSICA BURROUGHS: Yes, I can. I just think this team is just — they just kept fighting until the end. They just gave everything they had, starting in the fall. Everyone took what this program is all about and just went with it. The freshmen came in, they learned quickly and a lot of them have made an impact, all of them is made an impact on this program and we'll continue to grow. Next year we're going to come back even stronger and more experienced, but I just think — I don't even know. This year has been the funnest I've had, and I'm looking forward to next season, and it's kind of a little bittersweet ending how it did, but we fought, and we just kept pushing through, and I couldn't be more proud of this team.
Q. Coach, if you can, just talk about the chip-away effect, you score one in the first, then the second. You get two runs, now it's tied up, now it's just like, keep the focus and work your way through.
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, UCLA taught us a little bit, the grand slam, and we've been here before, right, we can keep chipping away. We knew we could swing the bats against Auburn's pitching. We knew that, and we knew that their hitting was going to be tough. I mean, they swing it and they've been great all season, and they put together a good ballgame. It was just a matter of one-pitch mentality. We grew up so much here at the World Series as a team, and we talked that process all season long, and we believed it. We believed it. We found out that's what you have to do when you get here. It's the biggest stage, you've got to trust the process and you've got to trust your teammates, and it showed up for that fight mentality for us in the last couple games.
Q. Coach, to start the season you said you're just looking for growth. Anything else is just gravy. Does this season — are you already looking forward to what you're going to have next season? Are you already chomping at the bit waiting for 2017?
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, you know what, I think right now is a time to reflect on our current season. You know, it's a long journey. You start really over the summer, you start thinking about the next season, and then when you come together in September you are grinding it out to be here. Like the dream of any college softball player is to be here. But we've got to go take some time right now and enjoy this team and everything that we did and then come September we'll be ready to go and get after it for next year. It's tough to get here. It's tough to get here. It's not going to be a cake walk. I know we have the majority of our team returning and the experience, but we're going to have a lot of things to prove to ourselves, and we want to be back here. We're going to push our tails every day to get back here.
Q. Alex, you were one of the most consistent players here at the World Series. What was it like for you watching players like Cali, players like Sydney really come alive toward the end and make an impact for this team?
ALEX POWERS: I mean, I get more excited for them than I do for myself because I think when you can be selfless and have that much excitement for each other, I think that's what's going to change the ballgame. When Cali hit that home run, I think I was the first person like running out of the dugout. I mean, just such joy you feel for your teammates, and I think that's one of the most important things about being a team and being successful is being able to know that if you don't get the opportunity or if you do and you fail that other people will get the opportunity and that hopefully they succeed, and that's the best feeling of fulfillment.
Q. Coach, have you gotten a chance to look at the replay of the play at the plate at the end, and how close was it?
LONNI ALAMEDA: I have not looked at it. I think the throw was high. I think if the throw was on line, but (Jessica) Warren did a Superwoman spin around throw which she does a ton, so I think she was safe as much as in my mind I wanted her to be out, but it wasn't there. We had our chances. We had the right people up with the bases loaded. We had our chances, and that's the game. If you can just leave it all out there — I think in the third or fourth inning we brought the team together, I went out in the circle and I said, it's a dogfight right now and it's been an emotional day. It's been a long, emotional day. We had a great win this morning. Just give every ounce of what you have right now, and the team perked up, and they did it. They were awesome and the coaches brought them together about the hitting, same mentality, just give everything you have, and they fought, fought, fought.
Tip your hat to Auburn. They're a great ballclub. They've done a great job there, and it's just fun to play a competitive game like that. Of course you want to come out on the winning side, but it is so fun to be in those moments, and that's what you train for.
Q. Coach, when Morgan (Klaevemann) had two on and she hit that ball to the left-field gap, (Victoria) Draper made that critical catch, it looked like it robbed what could have been a two-RBI double.
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, it did rob a two-RBI double. That's it. That's this level. Again, like you know, there were so many great plays, it had to be good softball TV. It was just outstanding back and forth. I think Uncle Mo was running to one dugout and running to another. He was going back and forth and we couldn't really grasp it. That's what it's all about. Sometimes you applaud other players, too. You are cheering for your team but you just want a really good game and you just want to fight. It was outstanding — I'm sure a top-10 play.
Game 11: Auburn 8, Florida State 7 (8 innings)
- In Game 11 of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Auburn defeated No. 8 Florida State, 8-7, in eight innings, to open Session 6. The Tigers improve to 57-10 on the year, while the Seminoles end the season at 55-10. Auburn’s win sets the program record for victories in a single season.
- With the win in today’s semifinal, Auburn advances to its first-ever WCWS Championship Series appearance with Game 1’s date, time and opponent (Oklahoma/LSU) TBD. The loss by Florida State eliminates the Seminoles from the 2016 WCWS after making their second-ever semifinal appearance (2002).
- Auburn improves to 5-2 in its second WCWS appearance (2015, ‘16) while Florida State falls to 8-18 all-time in its ninth appearance (1987, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’02, ’04, ’14, ’16). Today’s meeting between the Tigers and the Seminoles was the first between the two programs at the WCWS. FSU and Auburn met twice during the 2016 regular season, splitting both contests.
- Florida State took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first by way of an Alex Powers one-out RBI double to left center. Jessica Warren scored from first after reaching via a hit-by- pitch. During the NCAA Tournament, Warren scored a team-best 10 runs, while Powers has hit a team-high five doubles.
- Auburn answered in the bottom of the first, taking a 3-1 lead after a Carlee Wallace three-run home run to right center. Tiffany Howard and Emily Carosone scored after a leadoff single and a walk, respectively. The home run was Wallace’s fifth of the season and first of the postseason.
- In the top of the second, Florida State plated two runs to tie the game at 3-3. After reaching on an Auburn fielding error, Carsyn Gordon scored from second as a result of a Morgan Klaevemann two-out RBI triple to left center. In the following at bat, Jessica Warren’s RBI single to right field scored Klaevemann, extending her current hitting streak to a team-best 14th consecutive game.
- Florida State regained a 4-3 lead in the top of the third via a Gordon one-out RBI single through the right side. Cali Harrod scored after reaching on a walk, stealing second and reaching third on a throwing error by Auburn. Senior Jessica Burroughs entered the contest in relief for the Seminoles with runners on first and second with no outs in the bottom of the third. Auburn’s Jade Rhodes sent a towering three-run home run down the left field line, snapping Burroughs’ scoreless streak of 13.1 innings pitched and giving Auburn a 6-4 lead. Burroughs allowed three hits and two runs out of the bullpen.
- Florida State starter Meghan King picked up the loss, giving up five hits and six runs (five earned) while walking three. The freshman threw the first four innings and then returned to the game in the top of eighth.
- Kasey Cooper extended the Auburn lead to 7-4 in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out home run to right field. The solo shot was Cooper’s 20th home run of 2016, an Auburn single-season school record (2014 –
- A three-run home run by Florida State’s Harrod, with no outs in the top of the seventh, tied the game up at 7-7 in the Seminole’s final at bat. In today’s contest, the two teams combined for four total home runs, just the 12th time in WCWS that two teams combined to hit four or more home runs in a single game.
- In the bottom of the eighth, Madi Gipson singled to left field, but a two-base error by Florida State left fielder Alex Kossoff advanced Gibson to third base. Auburn’s Whitney Jordan sent a ground ball to third base, which allowed pinch-runner Morgan Podany to slide under the tag at the plate for the game-winning run. The win marked the second walk-off victory for the Tigers in 2016.
- Auburn’s Kaylee Carlson improved to 19-2 this year, throwing 3.1 innings of relief to get the win. The sophomore allowed four hits and three runs (one earned) while striking out five. Carlson’s 19th victory set a career high for wins in a single season (earned 18 victories at North Carolina in 2015).
- Seven of Auburn’s eight runs in today’s contest came by way of the long ball as the Tigers hit three home runs as a team. The three home runs are the most by a team since Kentucky hit three against Baylor in 2014 and just one shy of the WCWS single-game record,
- After scoring three in the bottom of the opening frame in Sunday’s victory, Auburn has now scored in the first inning of each of its three WCWS games. The Tigers, who have outscored opponents 126-25 in the opening frame, improve to 34-4 this season when scoring in their first at bat.
- Today’s contest went eight innings, the second extra-inning game of this year’s event and 94th all-time in WCWS. This marks the second-consecutive WCWS with two or more games decided in extras. Auburn improves to 4-1 and Florida State falls to 0-2 in extra-inning contests this season.
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