Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Auburn – 11, Oklahoma – 7
Clint Myers, Emily Carosone, Kasey Cooper, Tiffany Howard, Whitney Jordan, Makayla Martin, Rachael Walters
THE MODERATOR: Good evening. At this time we have Auburn on the dais. Coach, general comments about the game?
CLINT MYERS: We're very excited. Here last night we talked about what we needed to do. We started a little rocky, but we kind of got together out there in the circle and recommitted, refocused, and from that point on you saw nothing but zeros. You can't count us out. We have a very, very good offense. Yeah, they're going to swing the bats, and if you've noticed, they like to do it late and make everything very exciting. But I'm extremely proud of them, to have this opportunity. Again, we're playing a very talented, very well-coached Oklahoma.
The people that watched the game tonight truly saw some great softball, and again, I couldn't be prouder of these young ladies for what they've accomplished, and we have one more game.
Q. Emily, if last night was a warmup, what was tonight and what will tomorrow be?
EMILY CAROSONE: Oh, that's a hard question. Tonight was a game, a war, and tomorrow will be a war again. I mean, we're going to come out firing.
Q. Whitney, just wanted to ask you about obviously the two errors early on and then overcoming that. How big was that for you hitting that home run and then obviously you're the one that started the rally in the comeback pretty much.
WHITNEY JORDAN: Ultimately it was my team having my back and letting me know that you've got this, make up for it. That was the first thing they said right before I went up to bat, hey, make up for it right here. I'm just so happy I got to contribute and help my team because I hurt them ultimately but ended up helping them, so that was a good feeling.
Q. Can you just talk about what you saw on the pitch when you hit the grand slam?
EMILY CAROSONE: Really right before I got in the box I was thinking, hit it hard, because if I hit it hard and it went somewhere, Victoria (Draper) was going to score no matter what. But I don't know, that pitch was just there. It was — softball is a game of inches, and my bat was there. It's amazing. God is good. God is good.
Q. Tiffany, could you just talk about what you saw, and did you think you could catch the ball all the way on the home run?
TIFFANY HOWARD: Yeah, I've literally dreamed that my entire life. I'm not even kidding I dreamed that exact picture and everything. We've worked on it so much. I'm talking about we would have bruises on our arms working on the wall in practice, so we've done it a gazillion times, so I knew if I could find the wall and get up and put a glove on it, I knew I could catch it.
Q. Clint, you use a variety of pitchers, so changing arms out there is nothing for you, but obviously Patty (Gasso) goes a lot with Paige (Parker). Did you think at some point you'd see Parker tonight and were you a little surprised you didn't?
CLINT MYERS: Patty is a great coach, so I'm never going to second-guess her. I mean, they had the hammer, so if she wanted to make sure that Paige had the full-day's rest, then she went with what she was thinking. But I mean, you don't win 31 straight games not pushing the right buttons, so Patty did a great job.
Q. Kasey, you had a great view of Tiff's catch and you were pretty excited when she came down with it. Just talk us through you watching that and also, too, were you a little surprised that they walked you to load the bases for Emily there in the last inning?
KASEY COOPER: OK, for the first one, like Tiffany said, we get to see that every day in practice, and when we saw she fell into the wall and she went up for it, all of Oklahoma's fans started cheering because they thought it was over and I see her put a glove on it, and so I'm jumping up and down going she just robbed this. This is our game and this was meant to be. We were so proud of Tiffany because she's a senior, just like nine other people on the team, and tomorrow is it. What a moment to leave with because that's a moment she'll never forget, and we could not be more proud.
Two, I don't think they were pitching around me. I think they were being careful. So if they were going to make a mistake they were going to make it to their advantage. With Emily coming up there's no question you're picking your fire. You're picking your poison. With us, it's OK because I know that if I have a quality at-bat, Emily is going to come and get the job done, and she did. That's what Auburn softball is; it's about trust.
Q. Coach, what do you tell your team when you're down 7-0 and basically your season is on the line?
CLINT MYERS: Well, OK, it was 7-0 and we've only hit once. Basically we just — we went out there in the circle and we had some words of encouragement, and we just said basically there's so much of this game left. We can score bunches. But we've got to play defense. We've got to get the people in the circle back trusting that we're going to make plays, and we know what we're doing, and we've got to communicate the little things. The little things go a long way, and they just give pitchers so much confidence when they're out there making the plays behind them.
It wasn't difficult to go out there and just tell them to be Auburn and be proud, because I mean, we've had a hell of a season, and we've got one more game to play.
Q. Emily, you talked about yesterday wanting a chance at Parker. You're likely going to get that chance tomorrow. How are you all feeling about that challenge and opportunity?
EMILY CAROSONE: I mean, I don't expect anyone else but Parker. We're excited. Like we said yesterday, we were on her that last inning, and I don't think it will take us that long to get on them. I think what it's going to come down to is the defense and taking away the bunts that they were getting on, but I'm excited. I'm excited for tomorrow.
Q. You guys have had a mantra all year, three more days, and a loss tonight in this elimination game, it would have only been two more days. How has that mantra fueled you and what kept you going tonight?
KASEY COOPER: Well, see, we like to make things interesting at Auburn, so we knew when we lost yesterday we said three more days, so that means obviously we'd have to win tonight and play tomorrow. When we saw we were down 7-0 I looked at 'em and I said, good thing there's no run rule because we have seven at-bats to be able to score these runs. We are confident in our offensive ability to come back no matter what. We have always been known for never quitting and having that relentless attitude.
When we came in and we said, hey, let's play Auburn softball, we're going to get a few runs at a time and we're going to play great defense because we can do this, and we didn't want it to be over. We knew that we are a championship team, and we wanted to prove it, not only to everyone else but to ourselves.
Q. Rachael, what did it mean to you to have a game like that being a senior in your last go-around, and Makayla, was it kind of scary being a freshman going out there in the College World Series?
RACHAEL WALTERS: Well, warming up in the bullpen and seeing the runs coming in, I knew I wasn't ready to be done today. I mean, I'm not ready for my season to be over, so going in I had the mindset of getting out of that inning and then keeping my team in the game and not letting them get any more runs on the board to give us the best chance that we could have to win that game.
But yeah, I mean, ultimately it came down to not giving in and not wanting to go home. I left it all out there, and if today was my last day, then I would honestly say that I was proud of my performance.
I owe Tiffany like a million steak dinners, and I've already told her that. She has pet rats. I've said they can stay in my room. (Laughter). Yeah, that was pretty much it.
MAKAYLA MARTIN: I wasn't really scared because Coach says if you're scared you're not prepared. We've been prepared for this moment the whole year, and I mean, facing those batters, I mean, yeah, they're really good.
KASEY COOPER: So are you.
MAKAYLA MARTIN: But like the pitching staff pitches to our hitters at practice, so I believe if we can pitch to them, we can pitch to anyone in the nation. I mean, I was ready to be put in that situation, so that was fine.
Q. Clint, how has Whitney's season fit as a part of this team season overall? You obviously had lost some people at that spot and needed her, I guess.
CLINT MYERS: She'll be on the lineup at shortstop tomorrow. I mean, she was a shortstop last year, and we were going to make her into an outfielder, then we lose one, then we lose two, and hey, Whit, you're back in at short. She jumped in there and she's worked extremely hard. She's a very good competitor, and she works on her skills. I'll tell you what, I'm very proud of her play this entire season because of the type of person that she is. She competes. She does the best she can every single day.
Q. Kasey, can you take us through that game-tying home run? What did you see and feel heading up to the plate?
KASEY COOPER: Well, the whole game plan was just to stay on top of the ball. Last night we hit too many fly balls, and fly balls are easy outs, so today the real focus was staying on top of the ball, and ultimately when you stay on top of the ball, if you miss at all, it's going to be a line drive. Just a quality at-bat. A home run is a byproduct of a good swing. My goal was to hit the ball hard on the ground, and she threw me an off- speed curve, and I was in a good position to handle it, so when I'm out a little bit in front, you just keep going with it, and that's what happened.
I'm happy I missed above a little bit, and I'm happy and proud of this team.
Q. Tiffany, has Victoria told you how to handle the Twitter mentions you're going to get when you're a top play on SportsCenter tomorrow morning?
TIFFANY HOWARD: We'll cover that later.
Patty Gasso, Jayden Chestnut, Shay Knighten, Erin Miller
THE MODERATOR: At this time we have Oklahoma on the dais.
PATTY GASSO: Yeah, quite a game. Another tough game for two teams that played really hard. I know all the questions are going to be about our decision, so I'll wait for those. But I'm very, very proud of our pitching staff who hasn't seen a lot of time. Jayden Chestnut specifically fought her tail off tonight. I thought our offense came out and attacked early, and then we just went a little stagnant. That hurt us. We make no excuses for the loss. We just needed to execute a little bit better, especially late in the game.
But we know that this team will come out tomorrow excited and fired up and back on track and giving everything we have, laying it out on the field to fight for this championship. And that is no doubt. There's no doubt about that.
Q. Patty, I don't want to ask you about not starting Paige, but did you consider bringing her back after you had a seven-run lead or any inning thereafter?
PATTY GASSO: I thought it was a little too early. I think we would have kind of shot ourselves in the foot if we did that, so it was more the consideration of the sixth and the seventh, and we had opportunities, and it was almost like we were really pressing, which we don't do, but we were pressing to try to get that run.
But Jayden Chestnut kept us in the game, and she did a very good job of that.
Q. Patty, you said yesterday that you really wanted to go get a good night's sleep and wake up and see where things were. Can you just kind of talk me through the day and when you made the decision to sit Paige (Parker) and sort of how she felt physically?
PATTY GASSO: You know, this has been a really tough road for both teams because on Thursday we — although we only played a couple innings, we were here all night, and so it's not a day off, really. So we played Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. That's honestly too much for one person on the mound to handle. Paige would go out there and she would take the ball if we gave it to her, but it just wasn't in my opinion very smart to do, because if she's not at close to her best and we can't get this done, then I don't know that she'd have much left tomorrow.
Our team was excited to see Kelsey Stevens and Jayden, and they all were fired up for this opportunity. You saw us come out really hot. It's just unfortunate that we didn't do a better job offensively to help, but we hung in there, and these guys kept us in the game.
But Paige having this night off I think will help her tremendously for tomorrow, and like I said, whether we have gas in our tank or not, we're going to do everything we can tomorrow as a team.
Q. Patty, you mentioned your offense went stagnant after early. You had a great small-ball game early in the game. Did you think about going back to that at any time?
PATTY GASSO: Well, we couldn't get runners on, so it was kind of hard to do that. But we're bringing out all the stops tomorrow. I know our team will be ready for that. You know, it's hard to do it when you don't have people on.
Q. Shay and Erin, when Shay hit that home run and the girl brought it back, it looked like all the fans jumped up and they were celebrating. What did that moment do for your psyche and what happened there in the dugout after that?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: Well, for me, it was a great catch. She made a great play. There was no doubt about that. But for us as a team, I think that just kind of brought us together more, and we knew coming in it was going to be a dogfight, and that just made us want to fight that much more to get this win. It didn't turn out that way, but we're going to keep fighting until we get what we want.
ERIN MILLER: I think it just solidified that this is going to come down to the last pitch of the game. Both of us want it that bad, so you're going to see a fight tomorrow, too.
Q. Coach, it's been a while since you guys have lost. How do you feel about the resiliency of your team in a situation like this given you guys were up so many runs and it kind of snowballed?
PATTY GASSO: You know, we don't even talk about the amount of wins. I don't think I've ever mentioned to them — we've never talked about the streak. What I know is that we're not supposed to be here. I don't think anyone expected us to be here, and that is a good place to feel when you're here. We're taking that momentum, and like I said, we're going to do everything we can with it.
We aren't down. This team comes back like vengeance when somebody beats them, and they know it and I know it.
The key is not to get caught up in the big outcome of things. The key is to stay in the moment like we've been doing and piece things together. We're going to be ready for that.
Q. Patty, you said that Paige would have pitched if you would have put her out there. Did she try to argue that point with you at all?
PATTY GASSO: No, no, she didn't.
Q. It sounds like a lot of it is just well-being of a person, which I know in this sport, pitchers are seen as OK, they can go out there every day, but at the end of the day she is a human.
PATTY GASSO: Sometimes, yeah. That has a lot to do with it. I mean, I think they all knew it, too. We're in the hotel. We see her, and Paige will tell you I'm great, I'm great, and she would go out and give you everything she had, but there is exactly what you said, a point where what do you risk for this; let's try to get it done another way and let Paige feel like she can be close to her best and really have a chance to win a championship. It would be unfair to her and this team if I put her out there again tonight. That's how our coaching staff felt.
Q. I saw Paige throughout the game. She was talking to you guys in the dugout a lot while the pitchers were on the mound. What kind of role did she play tonight? And you mentioned the sixth and seventh innings, if Shay's ball gets by the glove, is that when you hand her the ball?
PATTY GASSO: Yeah, she was a cheerleader stat girl tonight next to me and just kind of helping me with things and just very engaged in the game and really — I take offense somewhat of how people talk about our pitching staff, and I think Paige takes offense to it, too. I mean, she's been the highlight of this group, but these guys have worked their tail off every day, and to give them an opportunity I think, especially Jayden Chestnut as a freshman out there, not only did she keep us in the game, she gave up two runs — against Auburn that happens, be real about that. But she kept us in the game. And for a freshman like Jayden to come in and get that experience is going to be so valuable down the stretch. Paige took off down into the bullpen late in the game in hopes that we could find a way to get on the board. That kid made a great, great play, and that's — I said it yesterday; whether it's our team or their team, those kind of plays win you championships. What we've got to do is have those kinds of plays work our way tomorrow.
But when you're fighting with all you have, those are the things that — I jumped up higher than anybody, and then I felt kind of ridiculous. But you're so caught up in the emotions of the game and with your team that it's so stressful but it's so, so fun. So fun.
Q. Jayden, you came in and kind of inherited a tough situation that you found yourself being able to battle back a few times tonight. Can you talk about how you felt as the game progressed?
JAYDEN CHESTNUT: Yeah, I mean, I was always ready to go in, and I had a lot of excitement about it, and my plan was to just go in and be fearless and keep us in the ballgame, and I think I executed that pretty well.
Q. Erin, Patty alluded to this, as well, but obviously the first couple innings you guys were on (Kaylee) Carlson. Is it a credit to (Rachael) Walters and (Makayla) Martin coming in or was there more pressing you felt from your offense?
ERIN MILLER: Credit to them. I thought they did a great job on the mound keeping us off balance. That's something we're going to do better tomorrow. I think we're making soft outs, so I think as an offense our goal tomorrow is put the ball hard in play, be tough outs, and get a rally going late in the game.
Q. Erin and Kady, you've played so much softball, you've been in situations very similar to this before, so what will you tell this squad — I know you'll talk to them and be leaders on this team, so what will you tell them about, okay, it's one more game?
ERIN MILLER: It's about resiliency. It's about how you answer. I think we've done a great job of that all season. Someone throws a punch, you throw it back. That's the game of softball, I think. You're going to see a dogfight tomorrow. It's for a national championship; why wouldn't you?
Q. Shay, I wanted to ask you what did you think when Coach Gasso asked you to squeeze bunt in that situation, and had you done that in a game before this year?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: I just did it for my team. Whatever she needed me to do, whatever the team needed from me at that time, that's what I was going to do. She needed a squeeze, and I knew I had to execute it one way or another. There was no going out of it. It was doing it for my team, sacrificing myself for the greater good of the team, and I got it done.
Q. Jayden, obviously a tough game to give up. What do you have to do to get over this and be ready next time your number is called?
JAYDEN CHESTNUT: Yeah, it obviously didn't turn out my way and it stings a little bit, but I think it's just motivation to come out tomorrow and just fight even harder.
Q. Jayden, you're on a team with a lot of other Oklahoma kids, but being an Oklahoma kid out there in the circle, was there a moment at all tonight where you sort of allowed yourself to just enjoy it and realize what you were doing as an Oklahoma girl?
JAYDEN CHESTNUT: Yeah, I definitely went out there and just enjoyed the atmosphere, and playing on my home field — well, not home field, but my home state field, and I don't know, it was just a great experience to be out there on that field.
Championship Series Game 2: Auburn 11, Oklahoma 7 (8 innings)
- In the second game of the best-of- three Championship Series of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, Auburn’s Emily Carosone hit a walk-off grand slam to help the Tigers defeat Oklahoma, 11-7, Tuesday night.
- Carosone’s walk-off grand slam is the first-ever in a WCWS Championship Series game and just the second-ever to end a game at the WCWS. Florida’s Ali Gardiner is the only other player to hit a walk-off grand slam in WCWS history (2009 vs. Alabama). Carosone’s grand slam is also the 12th all-time at the WCWS (second in 2016).
- Tiffany Howard led the Tigers with a 4-for- 5 performance at the plate including a triple, while scoring three runs with one RBI. Carsone was 3-for- 4 with a grand slam, drove in four RBI and scored once. She also recorded her 85th hit-by- pitch of her career, which ranks fifth all-time in NCAA history. Whitney Jordan tallied two hits including a three-run home run in the bottom of the second as well as a double.
- Oklahoma is making its fourth appearance in the Championship Series (2000, ’12, ’13, ’16), while Auburn is appearing in the best-of- three series for the first time in school history.
- In its 10th appearance (2000, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’16), Oklahoma fell to 21-15 all-time at the Women’s College World Series. Auburn is 6-3 in its second-ever appearance at the WCWS (2015, ’16).
- Through the first 34 WCWS, only 14 coaches have won the NCAA title. Mike Candrea (8) and Sharon Backus (7, after 1995 title was vacated) lead the way. Next is Sue Enquist with three. Auburn head coach Clint Myers and Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso are seeking to become the fourth coach in WCWS history to win three NCAA titles. Myers won two NCAA titles during his tenure at Arizona State (2008, ’11), while Gasso has won a pair of championships with the Sooners (2000, ’13). Myers would also become the first coach in WCWS history to win national championships with multiple programs.
- Oklahoma leads the all-time series against Auburn, 3-1. With the win, the Tigers snapped OU’s 31-game win streak.
- Auburn scored 11 unanswered runs beginning with a five-run second inning to knock off the Sooners in the second game of the championship series.
- The Sooners opened the scoring as Fale Aviu’s RBI single drove in Erin Miller to put OU on top 1-0.
- OU’s six-run second inning was the most scored in a single frame by one team at the WCWS since it also plated six against Texas on June 1, 2013. The six runs scored are tied for the most scored in a single inning of a WCWS Championship Series game.
- Auburn responded by scoring five runs in the bottom of the second to trim the deficit to 7-5. Whitney Jordan’s three-run home run put on the board. After an RBI triple from senior Tiffany Howard scored Victoria Draper, Kasey Cooper’s RBI single made it a 7-5 game.
- Cooper tied the game at 7-7 by blasting her second home run of the WCWS with a two-run shot to right field, scoring Howard. The homer marked Cooper’s 21st of the season. The junior was 2-for- 4 at the plate, with three RBI and two runs scored.
- The 11 combined runs scored in the bottom of the second inning by Auburn and Oklahoma are the most runs scored by two teams in a single frame in WCWS Championship Series history. Previous record was seven (twice).
- With the game tied in the top of the sixth inning, Howard robbed OU’s Shay Knighten of a two-run homer in left field to keep the game knotted at 7-7.
- Freshman Makayla Martin earned the victory for the Tigers and is now 15-3 this season. Martin tossed the final 2.0 innings, giving up just one hit. Rachael Walters threw 5.0 shutout innings, giving up just four hits and recording one strikeout. Kaylee Carlson started for the Tigers, but pitched just one inning. The sophomore gave up seven runs (four earned) and allowed five hits.
- Freshman Jayden Chestnut took the loss for the Sooners, falling to 9-1. Chestnut allowed six runs and 11 hits in 5.2 innings of relief. Oklahoma senior Kelsey Stevens made her first start in the postseason, lasting 1.2 innings. She allowed five runs (three earned) and two hits while recording two walks and a strikeout. Her last start was prior to Tuesday night’s game was May 14 versus Oklahoma State.
- The Sooners were led by Sydney Romero and Kady Self at the plate. Romero finished with two hits, while scoring a run and driving in another. Self was 2-for- 4, hitting her fourth homer of the season to start the top of the second.
- Oklahoma turned its fifth double play of the World Series in the third inning, which ranks as the third-most in WCWS history.
- Tuesday night’s game was the 10th extra inning game in the WCWS Championship Series era. Auburn is 3-1 all-time in extra-inning games at the WCWS.
- The third game of the championship series will be held at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday.
- Attendance for Game 2 was 8,409.
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