Saturday, June 4, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Auburn – 4, Georgia – 3
Clint Myers, Kasey Cooper, Emily Carosone, Jade Rhodes, Tiffany Howard
THE MODERATOR: At this time we have Auburn University on the podium. We'll get general comments from Coach about the exciting game.
CLINT MYERS: It was a hell of a game. We're very excited. You know, it puts us in a great place. I'm really proud of the fight, they never quit. They stayed in the ballgame, and they beat a very, very good Georgia team.
Yeah, the pitching was phenomenal. The hitting was timely, and there was good baserunning. So I mean, the little things that we talk about that Auburn has to do in order to win, we did tonight. We made a few mistakes, but hey, great teams figure out ways to win, and they did tonight, and I'm very, very proud of all of them.
Q. Clint, what was the explanation you were given on that play that I think confused all of us there at the top of the seventh?
CLINT MYERS: We got a little excited and kind of wandered off first base, and that's illegal. In the excitement, the run counted; that was the most important thing, because Jade did a phenomenal job. I mean, with two strikes, putting the ball in play, scoring Coop(er), huge at-bat. Huge at-bat. I mean, again, you're going to get a little excited, and that's all it was.
Q. Emily, you've got to explain that baserunning. Looked like a little Barry Sanders, a little Nick Marshall. What was going on?
EMILY CAROSONE: We tied the game up and Cooper was at third base, Jade was up to bat. I knew if the ball went to the second baseman, which was (Alex) Hugo, if I could get her to hesitate just for a second, Jade could be safe and Cooper could score, and I even told Cooper before, I said, if that ball is hit to Hugo, I'm getting her to try and tag me. I was willing to say, hey, hey, hey, right here, right here. I was going to get her to come after me so Jade could be safe and Cooper could score, because Cooper's run is what mattered.
Q. Kasey, I was going to say you guys made it to the semis, and it's a lot easier than last year not going to the loser's bracket, but that wasn't easy at all, was it?
KASEY COOPER: No, it's the SEC and you never know what you are going to get. It's going to be a great ballgame and you know both teams are not going to give up. We gave the most fight we've seen in a long time and we can pull from past experience because last time we faced Georgia we had a walk off and we had two one-run games. We just had to keep fighting. One at-bat at a time. We just kept putting the pressure on them. We started getting ground balls, and we put the pressure on Georgia's defense.
Q. You're one win away from the championship series. What's that like?
TIFFANY HOWARD: I'm pumped. I'm so excited. Just to think if we just win three more games — it's mindblowing, so I'm just excited.
EMILY CAROSONE: It's just one game at a time. Nothing changes. We're playing Auburn softball no matter if it's the winner or the loser's bracket, the championship, we're playing Auburn softball, and that's what we came to do.
KASEY COOPER: Our goal was just to dream with a deadline, and so our deadline is three more days, and we almost made it, so our goal is still attainable, and we aren't stopping until we attain our goal.
JADE RHODES: Just like Emily said, another game. They have to come out, the pressure is not on us anymore. They have to come out and beat us twice. Just take that pitch by pitch, inning by inning, and just play Auburn softball.
Q. Tiffany, you guys have been in some really crazy games over the last two years, and really for anybody that's up there, where does this rank among the crazy dramatics that this team has been come to be known for?
TIFFANY HOWARD: It's in the top. I wouldn't say it's the top one, but it's definitely up there with the top, and I just think what gets us through those close games is our energy in the dugout and just believing in one another and just getting on base so other people can hit us in.
Q. Jade, if you could talk about the excitement that you experienced at first base that maybe led to you getting off the bag, and did you even realize that it had happened?
JADE RHODES: Not really, because you know, when I was up to bat, I just looked at Emily and look at Coop, and we just have this connection where we look at each other, and I'm like, I've got to get on for Emily. No matter what I do, if I'm fouling pitches off, anything, just getting on or getting the ball in play to score Cooper. And yeah, like my excitement got to me, but then I have to realize like the run did count, so even though my excitement got to me, I can't let myself get down, so I had to go back on defense and we had to finish it strong.
Q. Did your heart sink, though, for a moment when you thought maybe the run wouldn't count?
JADE RHODES: It did. I did kind of like throw my hands on my helmet, like oh my gosh, what did I just do. But when I did realize that the run counted, my teammates had to gather me and say, look, we just need three outs from you. We had to have solid defense. Our infield needed to keep the ball in the field, in the dirt, so they would not score, because we know that our defense is solid, and if we can just get three outs then we've got them.
Q. Coach, was there ever a point in time where you thought rightly or wrongly they were going to try and take the run off the board?
CLINT MYERS: No. I mean, it's — Jade was safe. That was a clear call, all right. Run scored. I mean, the umpires know the rules. They're really good at that. Never a doubt.
Q. Coach, can you talk about the relief performance from Rachael (Walters)?
CLINT MYERS: Oh, she's not here. Again, Corey (Myers) had a plan, and it was to let them go through, and if you noticed, you saw Mak(ayla) Martin run down there because it was going to be kind of down early, then up, and then finish with down. But Rachael was throwing the ball great. And again, Corey has been a maestro out there working with these pitcherst and coming up with plans and making pitch calls. He's on a great wavelength with them, and there is so much trust in what he's saying, that they're going out there and just executing his plan, and they've been phenomenal.
Q. Chelsea Wilkinson pitched a heck of a game. Talk about the timely hitting, and what did your team do as adjustments and you guys as batters, what did you do to adjust to Chelsea's pitching?
EMILY CAROSONE: I think two things kept us in the game. It was our pitching holding them down and then Victoria Draper stepping up making some of those great catches in the outfield and getting on base in that last seventh inning. Without Victoria getting on the top of the order comes up with one out and that situation doesn't happen again. It's crazy to see that even the bottom of our lineup gets us through games and wins games for us.
KASEY COOPER: It puts more pressure on the defense and the pitcher when you have a runner on first with nobody out. You are going to pitch differently. You've got speed on first, Vic(toria) Draper is our fastest runner that we got and Tiff is the next. So you've got speed on speed, and our lineup was just to keep hitting ground balls and putting the pressure on defense, pick your pitch, put your best swing on it and have a quality at-bat. If this was your last at-bat, how would you want to go down? And that's how we approached it. And for us we were all about fight and we're a relentless attitude, and I couldn't be more proud of this team right now.
Q. Emily, were you surprised that they pitched to you with first base open? And second, did you say anything to your teammates before y'all went out for that last inning?
EMILY CAROSONE: I was surprised they pitched to Cooper. They usually try to pitch around Cooper to get to me, and I mean, if you're going to do that you're pitching around somebody that's batting .400 to get to another person that's batting .400. But my bat before that I popped it up so I knew I dropped my hands a little bit. Me and Cooper had it easy. We just had to get hits because the runners were already in scoring position. All we had to do was hit the ball and get those runners in, and Cooper got the first one in, and then I got the tying one in, so it was just a team effort.
It was just great all around.
Q. Clint, I'm curious, maybe if you could just talk philosophically for a second, I just wondered what enables a team to — you're down two runs in the final inning; what is it about the makeup of a team that enables you to not give up? Is that something that you can somehow instill and engrain in a team? Are those intangibles? Are those tangibles? There's teams that rise to the occasion in difficult moments like that in the World Series and there's teams that for whatever reason aren't able to have it.
CLINT MYERS: I think the answer is yes to all of your questions. I think it's something that goes and starts when you first come together and you have an expectation and you believe in each other. You heard what they were saying, I was doing it for her, I was doing it for us, and I knew what I had to do, and it was just — we have kind of a term, pass the baton, and again, if one doesn't get it done, the next one will.
This team has had great fight all year long. I mean, we've had a couple bumps in the road, and we've been behind before. But they never quit. As long as they've got a breath, they never quit. And again, that's just a competitive nature. That's playing with a great heart. That's playing with total confidence, and again, there's so many little tangible things that you could say, to answer your question, but basically these young ladies are winners, and again, they're doing what winners do. They compete. You know, they're pulling for each other. They've got each other's backs. And again, it's just what we talk about when we first come together. These are the things that we've got to do. These are the things that we practice. And they take total trust into their preparation. I mean, that's one of two ways to get confidence.
Yeah, you saw that seventh inning. You saw the confidence in their face, in their eyes, and could have felt it in the dugout. It was phenomenal. They knew. They weren't trying, they knew that they were going to score and win that ballgame.
Lu Harris-Champer, Chelsea Wilkinson, Katie Browne, Alex Hugo
THE MODERATOR: At this time we have at the desk the University of Georgia.
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: I thought it was a really exciting game, a lot of back and forth, just well-played, especially in the middle. As far as overall, just a fun atmosphere with the team. I thought we were a little shaky early and then kind of settled into the game. It didn't go our way. I thought that Newt (Alex Hugo) had a good day at the plate, I thought Maeve (McGuire) was great at the plate, Katie had a big RBI for us. I thought Samantha LaZear was clutch and Moose (Kaylee Puailoa) taking her walk. Just proud of the team for fighting with grit. Proud of the team for fighting and their grit. It's tough. It's tough to lose. It's tough when you put your heart out there, but I'm proud of them for putting their heart out there and fighting with everything that they have.
Q. This is the third time now that Auburn has come back to beat you guys this season. What is it about that team and how frustrating is it to do that now three times?
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: Well, you've got to give them credit today. I thought when they needed ground balls they got ground balls, and they took advantage of putting hard ground balls into play.
Q. Coach, obviously you're up two runs; what was the message as far as — Auburn was putting stuff in play but you guys were making plays. What was the message going into the seventh inning?
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: Really just do what we've been doing all along.
Q. Coach, the play where the winning run scored for Auburn, if the runner doesn't run out of the base path, do you have a chance to turn a double play and end that play before the run crosses and was that part of your discussion with the umpire?
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: Well, you know, the runner did her job. She tried to avoid the tag, and that wasn't part of my discussion with the umpire.
Q. Would you have had a chance to make the double play?
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: Potentially, yes.
Q. And now you face an LSU team that you played a series against and they took two of three at your place. The challenge of facing LSU, what do you think?
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: Well, I think our conference is amazing, and it's tough, and it's a dogfight every game that you get to play, and we feel that every time we get out there. So we're excited to play. We're excited to still be here and to have an opportunity to compete.
ALEX HUGO: Yeah, I mean, they're a great team. I think at this point in our season it really doesn't matter who we play, I think we're just super grateful that we still get the chance to play as a team and compete, so I think we're excited to get back out there tomorrow.
KATIE BROWNE: I'm with Alex. I agree that Georgia stayed within themselves and LSU is a great team, but I don't think that is what we'll focus on tomorrow. We'll focus on Georgia softball.
CHELSEA WILKINSON: Yeah, just what they said. We just have to stay in our game. Like our coaches just told us, if they had told us a couple months ago that we'd be playing on Sunday in the Women's College World Series, we'd be pretty excited about it, so we're still excited to get back out there tomorrow and get back after it.
LU HARRIS-CHAMPER: I don't know if I said this but I think Chelsea pitched a great game today. I mean, she got us out of jams left and right and we wouldn't be sitting here today if it wasn't for her.
Q. Chelsea, you were commanding that Auburn team until about the seventh inning. What did you figure out about those batters and what was going through your head?
CHELSEA WILKINSON: Well, Coach (Rachele) Fico and I, we just went off what we had when we faced them in the series and we just went from there. They're solid one through nine obviously so we were just making good quality pitches to good locations, getting outs.
Q. Chelsea, you got the win in that series against LSU. What do you remember about their lineup, and how were you able to be successful against them?
CHELSEA WILKINSON: Well, LSU is not here by chance, either. They're a great team, also. It just stays the same with each team we face, just making quality pitches to quality locations, and our defense is going to work behind us.
Game 5: Auburn 4, Georgia 3
- In Game 5 of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, No. 4 seed Auburn defeated No. 16 seed Georgia, 4-3. The Tigers improve to 56-10, while Georgia falls to 46-19.
- With the victory, Auburn advances to Game 11 (loser of Oklahoma/Michigan or Florida State) on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT. Georgia will take on LSU in an elimination game Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT.
- In its third WCWS appearance (2009, ’10, ’16), Georgia is 6-5, while Auburn has a 4-2 record in two WCWS appearances (2015, ’16). Saturday’s meeting was the first between the two teams at the WCWS.
- The Tigers took the lead by scoring runs in the top of the seventh inning. Kasey Cooper’s RBI single cut deficit down to 3-2 by scoring Victoria Draper. One batter later, Emily Carosone tied the game at 3-3 by knocking a single to right field to bring home Tiffany Howard.
- With runners at the corners, Auburn’s Jade Rhodes reached on a fielder’s choice to score Cooper from third base to bring in the go-ahead run. Carosone, who was advancing to second, was called out due to running out of the base path for the second out of the inning. After Cooper crossed the plate and Rhodes reached first base, the umpires ruled that Rhodes was out after an assistant coach physically assisted her back to the bag after she left it. The umpires deemed that the run scored before the final out was made due the third out of the inning not being a force out.
- Senior second baseman Carosone opened the scoring in the top of the first inning for Auburn with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring senior Howard. Carsosone finished 2-for-3 with two RBI.
- Georgia tied the game at 1-1 as senior Katie Browne’s RBI single to center score senior Alex Hugo from second. Hugo led off the frame with a double down the left field for the Bulldogs’ first extra-base hit in the 2016 WCWS.
- The Bulldogs grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third inning as senior Samantha LaZear scored on a passed ball. LaZear led off the inning with an infield single.
- Georgia junior Maeve McGuire extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 3-1 with a RBI double to left center, which allowed Alex Hugo to score. Hugo led the Bulldogs at the plate and finished 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
- This season, 15 of Georgia’s losses have been by three runs or less and nine losses have had the go-ahead run score in the sixth inning or later.
- Auburn’s Rachael Walters earned the win by tossing 5.0 innings in relief to move to 11-3 this season. Walters gave up two runs (one earned) and four hits while striking out two. Freshman Makayla Martin started the game for the Tigers and gave up one run on three hits in 2.0 innings of work.
- Georgia senior Chelsea Wilkinson fell to 28-8 and pitched six innings. The senior allowed four runs (one earned) and gave up seven hits.
- The win tied Auburn’s single-season record for victories in a season. The Tigers also won 56 games in 2002.
Pool reporter questions and answers with Vickie Van Kleeck, NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor (softball) concerning the top of the seventh inning of the Auburn-Georgia game:
Reporter: The second out in the top of the seventh, what happened there?
Van Kleek: The second out in the top of the seventh was the runner between first and second, running to second, who ran out of her basepath – 3 feet on either side of her established basepath. She was called out for that.
Reporter: And that is an automatic out?
Van Kleek: That is an automatic out, absolutely.
Reporter: Let's proceed to out three.
Van Kleek: Out number three was because the batter-runner reached first and then vacated the base, and then the assistant coach physically assisted her back to the base, which by rule 12.8.3 is an out, because being physically assisted by a coach, the baserunner is out.
Reporter: And to clarify, that was the coach who was coaching first base?
Van Kleek: Coaching first base, yes.
Reporter: The third thing that I need to ask, so we understand, is why does the run count in that situation?
Van Kleek: Because the third out of that inning was not a force-out, the run will count. Say, for example, if she had not reached first base and he pulled her back, then we would have no run counting. But because she already reached first base, this happened after, and then the run scored, so that's why we have the run.
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