Saturday, June 4, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma LSU – 6, Alabama – 4
Beth Torina, Sahvanna Jaquish, Kellsi Kloss, Sandra Simmons, Carley Hoover
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with an opening statement from coach.
BETH TORINA: Did you expect anything less from LSU-Alabama matchup? It's going to be battle every time the two teams take the field. I want to say when a class program Alabama is.
Their four seniors, Leona (Lafaele), Hawk (Andrea Hawkins), Haylie (McCleney), (Kallie Case). I've enjoyed watching every moment of their careers. They have done it the right way.
Haylie McCleney's just one of the best that's ever played the game, in my opinion. So I enjoyed every minute of those guys.
As for our team, I thought we fought hard, played well. I think we had a lot of kids step up. I couldn't name them all at this point. We, in the locker room, decided — we nominate the player of the game, and we decided it was a team nomination.
We had kids on the bench contributing to different things. We had people bunting, we had people hitting doubles, we had pitchers coming out of the bullpen. We had kids turning double plays. We had a lot of people that contributed to a really strong team win.
THE MODERATOR: Okay. Questions, please?
Q. 6-1, were you ever comfortable or did you feel like Alabama could make a run there at the end like they did?
BETH TORINA: I don't think you're ever comfortable when you're playing anywhere in the SEC, let alone a team like Alabama, who has been in the Women's College World Series 11 times, I believe.
So I don't know if you're ever comfortable playing against Alabama. So, I knew it would come down to the last inning. I had hoped our team would be able to continue to score and continue to keep pressure, but they did a good job making some adjustments. But never for a moment did I feel like that game was over in the fourth inning.
Q. Carley, what was your reaction when Sandra hit that ball out? And just how big a difference did that make for y'all to get off to a start like that?
CARLEY HOOVER: It's great starting any game with a lead, especially to set the momentum with the lead-off home run. So I'm pretty sure I was one of the first ones that ran out there. I was pretty excited.
Q. Beth, Sandy had two home runs during the entire regular season and now she's had four in the postseason. What have you seen that's changed in the post-season and just about her performance? And then, Sandy, if you can follow-up on that same question.
BETH TORINA: I think she's worked so hard and never taken a day off in her career. And I think she studied, she's put the work in, she deserves every bit of this.
I think that she's just a veteran player and understood her job was to lead us and just maybe felt like somebody needed to step up and it was her spot to do it. And she has led us in a huge way. She's a special, special player for us. Big reason why we're sitting here today is because of the effort she's put in here at the end of the season.
SANDRA SIMMONS: I think — I don't go out there and try and hit home runs. I wish I had said I could and I have that power.
I'm just really in there trying to find a way on for my team, especially in that lead off spot. Just trying to square the ball up hard. And I've been studying film, just trusting and not over thinking in the box and just getting the contact and kind of working my extension a little bit more than I have in the past.
Q. Were you surprised that Osorio never made an appearance?
BETH TORINA: Yeah, I was, honestly. I wasn't surprised to see (Sydney) Littlejohn start the game, because she had beat us during the regular season. But I was surprised that they didn't go to her in relief. Madi Moore did a really nice job. She's got a big career in front of her. She did a good job against us. Littlejohn's always tough. But yeah, I was a little surprised.
Q. Beth, you talked about a team effort. Y'all scored a run when Sahvanna (Jaquish) bunted, Bianka (Bell) went from first to third, Kellsi (Kloss) hit the ground ball to second. Those are the three biggest home run hitters in program history. Can you talk about the selflessness to play small ball with those three players?
BETH TORINA: We have some standards that our program lives by and it's an acronym for Tigers. The last letter is selfless.
And so I think that like I said a big reason why we are here is because our veteran players are very selfless. That was a huge moment for those guys. I think that if our four hole hitter, one of our — not just our best players, but one of the best players in the entire country, in this tournament for sure, is going to lay down a bunt. I think that says a lot, sets a tone for our team. Just says a lot about doing your job and that these guys would do anything to win.
So, and then Bianka moving up to third, just being in the game, in the moment, she's a great player like that.
And Kellsi, understanding that her role right there is just to do a job. I think that's huge and says so much about the team first hitting approach and not just a me over the team. It's an LS over you at all times.
Q. Kellsi, it's been a roller coaster season. You have had your backs against the wall so often. Are you not surprised or threatened even when it's close or even when you're down to potentially your last game or even when Alabama rallies late in the game?
KELLSI KLOSS: No, I'm not surprised at how this team fights. I think you've seen it over the past month or month and a half, just how much we all want this.
I think the adversity that we went through in the middle of the season, it prepared us so well for what you're seeing now.
And just the fact that the team has — makes me so proud to be part of this and it's a special thing to see us all come together and not care who gets it done, as long as it gets done.
Q. Five of your RBI's came from players from California. I wonder when you got the job at LSU was recruiting that area an immediate priority? And then for the three players, what did you like about LSU when you were being recruited?
BETH TORINA: I think that in my time we had players from 16 different states. I think that, something like that.
So, my priority is just to find the best kids in the whole country. And we start in Louisiana and move out from that.
But we're just trying to find the best players in the entire country, and I can't take credit for all of these guys. Some of those these guys were still from Coach (Yvette) Girouard and some have only played for me, but were found by her and her staff.
So we love the state of California, we love the state of Louisiana, we just love having kids that bleed purple and gold putting on a uniform every day.
SANDRA SIMMONS: What did I like about LSU? Just the tradition and the passion. And coming from California I really didn't see like a lot of fans, but the fan support at LSU is just amazing, and we sell out almost every year, and I just love playing there, so.
CARLEY HOOVER: Coming from California there's so many different schools in California, you lose track of the amount of schools there. When I got recruited and LSU was one of them, I loved that every single person around me just bled purple and gold, and I wanted to be a part of that. That's something that was really special to me was just knowing that the community around LSU is so strong and it's an awesome fan base. And just the every player on the team is so important and loved by everyone around them.
SAHVANNA JAQUISH: I enjoyed the atmosphere and culture that the team had. I think the minute that we got there on our unofficials and visits, you could see what the team was like and it was a family away from a family and that's what I wanted. I wanted to go far away, and I knew Beth. But I still wanted to feel family and that's what LSU did.
The fans, our players, the coaches, everyone really just cares about each other. So I drew really close to that.
Q. What was your message to the team after the loss at Michigan like that, knowing you were right there. What did you tell them in between to get them ready for today?
BETH TORINA: We pretty much instantly had to it get over it. We didn't have time to sit around and think about it. We played a great game, I thought. Just didn't get the timely hits, didn't get the breaks. And this team's really strong in this situation, where they have their backs against the wall, they just have really performed well.
So tried to talk to them about their strengths, the things that they have done well, that they have been in this situation before and they have excelled. And just really tried to move them on as quickly as we could.
Q. Not matter who it is tomorrow it's another SEC team. Knowing Georgia and Auburn as well as you do having faced both of them, do you already have an idea of who you would start in the circle or is it not that simple?
BETH TORINA: No idea at this point. Haven't thought about it. Definitely be a matchup situation. We still have Sydney and Baylee, who haven't pitched yet. We have some options there. And I'm a hundred percent confident in both of them.
I wish we weren't playing the SEC schools right now, because, of course, we're pulling for the SEC, but on a selfish note at least I have information on them and maybe I can get a little more sleep tonight knowing something about these guys already.
Q. Do you feel like you guys kind of have Alabama's number right now. You've eliminated them two years in a row, you won the regular season series? And did eliminating them last year and winning the series this year give you more confidence going into this game today?
BETH TORINA: Absolutely not. I would say that it's always a battle. They're a great program. A program that we respect. I think we understand they're capable of beating us at any moment, just look any team in the SEC is capable of beating us at any moment.
I don't think that there's really a team in the SEC that I could say that we're going to have their number or go out and dominate them. I think that we respect everybody in the league, and we're going to give them our best game and hope for the best.
THE MODERATOR: All right thank you.
Patrick Murphy, Chandler Dare, Sydney Littlejohn, Leona Lafaele, Haylie McCleney
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for coach.
PATRICK MURPHY: I just want to say thanks to everybody associated with the Women's College World Series, the University of the Oklahoma, USA Softball, the All Sports Association in Oklahoma City and you guys. We really appreciate the coverage and without you, our sport isn't as significant as it has become.
So we appreciate the coverage and the space in your papers and on your telecasts, because it's, it does a lot for the sport.
THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.
Q. You made a lot of changes to your lineup. Can you go through the thought process on some of those?
PATRICK MURPHY: Well, just like Demi (Turner) was our normal two hole, and I thought she was kind of at a spot where she could do that again. She was close to a hundred percent. Definitely offensively. Wasn't too sure defensively.
And then (Marisa) Runyon has been in that spot before. And then Chandler is like the second lead off in the six spot. So that's why we put her there.
Q. Last night you said that there are three things you need to do in the Women's College World Series: Timely hitting, good fielding, good pitching. Was it just all three of those things coming too late in this game?
PATRICK MURPHY: You could say that. Sydney came in and did a really good job after she, Madi (Moore) came, in. And then the thing that we always ask them to do is get the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 7th, and we did that.
So there was a lot of fight and a lot of grit. If we had one more hit in the bottom of the sixth or a hit when we had the bases loaded one out earlier in the game, it's a different story. Because it was 2-1 at the time.
And then we hit into two double plays. So, Carley (Hoover) made some good pitches and so did Alli (Walljasper) at the end. The pitch to Reagan (Dykes) was a nice jam pitch, so you got to give them credit, too.
Q. Two questions. First of all, was Alexis (Osorio) available in this game?
PATRICK MURPHY: No, not really. We've said all along that we wanted to win with a pitching staff and Sydney's a second team All-American and carried us during the SEC. Probably was the main reason why we were the 6-overall seed.
And then Madi has looked good in her last couple outings. So I told the team last night, if we're going to do this with a staff, if you're going to win it, you got to win it with everybody on board.
Q. That lead off home run, how big of a momentum boost is that for LSU? How did that affect you guys moving forward when they get on the board so quickly?
SYDNEY LITTLEJOHN: Well, for us, it's always very important to score first. But that's also a good thing about being the home team, you get to be the last one at bat.
Whenever they put one run up on the board, whether it be a home run, base hit, however they do it, it doesn't really worry us just because we know the defense has our back. We came up short, but as you can see our offense fought until the very end and very proud of them for that.
Q. Chandler, can you tell me about waiting so late before the offense got going and the missed opportunities before that. It seemed like, particularly late in the season, there were a lot of times when the bases get loaded and not — it doesn't turn into a big inning like it did today.
CHANDLER DARE: We just couldn't get it going in the top of the innings before it. But we tried our best, we fought to the very end and that's all you can ask.
And we wanted it so bad for each of our seniors and every player on the team, and we just kept fighting and fighting and fighting and, finally, we found the holes and that's all you can ask.
HAYLIE MCCLENEY: It's just unfortunate. Because we did put ourselves in what we thought was a good position. Getting people on base, we just couldn't get them in early in the game like we needed to and, but you can't say this team didn't fight. You cannot say that. You don't have to win a championship to be a champion, I can tell you that, because I'm sitting up here with three champions and I got 18 champions in that locker room. It doesn't matter win or lose your last game.
LEONA LAFAELE: I think it's all about adjustments and we like you saw didn't make the adjustments fast enough, so that's credit to their pitchers, but I still think that we did fight hard and all we needed like coach said was just maybe one or two more hits and it would have been a different ball game. So I'm proud what have we did and just got to learn from it.
Q. I know your team is hurting right now, obviously, but what do you have to say about the season and the future of the program after coming back here again for another year?
PATRICK MURPHY: Well thank you for that. I'm really proud of the four seniors, they're great young ladies. Couldn't ask for anybody better to represent the school, me, the program, their teammates. Three of the four have graduated already and (Andrea) Hawkins needs a semester she's going to go to physical therapy school but Kallie (Case) and Haylie and Leona have their degree in hand and that's number one. If you know me it's about the total experience, it's kind of getting here is icing on the cake. Obviously all of us would love to win a national championship but I know they're going to leave the program better young ladies than when they entered and that's the biggest thing for me. And the greatest thing that these four seniors have done is they created a legacy that they're going to pass down to all these kids and from year after year after year after year they're going to make a significant impact on the program whether they know it or not. Because all these five freshmen have been with them for a whole year and they're going to rub off on all of them in a good way.
Q. How tough of a draw — I know you're in the final eight, but when you look at what you guys stacked up against. How tough of a draw was that?
PATRICK MURPHY: Well, it was murderer's row, really, but everybody's good here. You guys, you all know that. And the gentleman the other day when he asked about the margin of error, if Sydney Booker's ball doesn't hit Bianka's (Bell) glove at third, that's two runs. And it's a different game. It's this much (Indicating) and then the short stop's right behind her and throws out our runner at the plate. So, the margin of error when you get here is the tiniest of all sports. Because every pitch matters every play matters, and if you get a free base, it could come back and bite you in the butt. Passed ball, wild pitch, whatever it is. Errors. It just, you have to play clean and then get the key hit. And we didn't get that.
Q. Touch a little bit on your career here and then for Chandler, Sydney, what is it about this senior class? What kind of impact did they have on you?
LEONA LAFAELE: Not happy with the outcome but I am very proud of us. For myself, I really wanted to go home with a bang this year and I feel like I actually escalated or elevated my game and so and for I think the whole team, we tried really hard and it's tough. But you know what? I'm proud. I'm proud to wear this A and I'm proud of all the girls sitting up here and all those girls that are back in the locker room right now. For the future of this program, we're just going to keep coming back. We're always going to be coming back. We're always going to be up there. So I'm proud of everything we did this year and super proud of this one right here.
HAYLIE MCCLENEY: You asked us to sum up our careers and I don't think it's something we can do and I don't think it's something that we should ever or we ever expected to do. I never thought this day would come. But I can't say enough about this program. There is no other place in the world like Alabama. I played in Japan, I played in Europe, Alabama is special and it's a special program because we leave better people and not just better players. That's easy when you go into college of course you're going to leave a better player. Not everyone leaves a better person. But everyone that graduates out of our program leaves a better person. And we go out into the world and we impact others and we lead and we learn how to put others before ourself and that's what I'm most proud of. Because everyone on this team is a great person. And you can say that every single year. We never have a bad egg. And that's because of Coach Murphy. All you recruits out there, you need to come to Alabama. I'm telling you, man, it's literally the best place in the world.
CHANDLER DARE: Yeah, these seniors have been one of the biggest impacts on my life. From everything that we have gone through in the fall, to now, just to see where they have led this team to, nobody probably expected us to be here and they led us the whole way. The fight that they had, on and off the field, I mean, I know everybody on this team has learned something from every single senior and can't thank you guys enough and we're really going to miss you guys.
SYDNEY LITTLEJOHN: There's not enough good things you can say about these seniors. I had to talk about each one of them, I mean Haylie has saved me so many runs and so many games and she's an even better person. Leona has talked to me and taught me so much just in between each pitch like those little conversations like I'm never going forget that. And Kallie, she was my host on my official visit, so we built a relationship going from there and God bless Andrea, she's my neighbor, so she's not getting away from me. But the impact that these seniors have left is like, it's unbeatable and the legacy will live on forever. They have taught each of us so much. Whatever they taught us mine and Chandler's class is next, it's going to be hard shoes to fill, but we're going to do our best to do it and I can't thank them enough for everything and for each of them they're about to go into the world and just change so many people's lives and the best is yet to come.
Q. Today being the best example, probably, but how much of a struggle was it and a puzzle was it for you to try to take these pieces and create a lineup. You mentioned having holes in it even late in the season and just trying to find that right combination.
PATRICK MURPHY: Well, you just try to figure out who might get hot. Instead of waiting for them to get hot, you almost like force them to get hot and put them in a position where they have to succeed. I've done that a lot where somebody might be struggling on I'm going to say you're in the three or four hole. The team needs you right now and Runyon is a good example. She got a hit in the last inning. Most people would have folded their tent and she would have said, I'm done with this, but she comes up with a hit in her last at bat to keep it going. So, I'm proud of everybody and the theme of “pass it down”, we almost did it. Just so close. And in the sixth inning and also in the seventh, so…
Q. Sydney and Chandler, in next year when you look at what you guys have back and what the expectations are on this program now, with the ones that are leaving what do you see the season next year and what is your challenge each of you in leading it?
SYDNEY LITTLEJOHN: Like I said before, these seniors have taught us so much and we're going to try to carry on their legacy, so I expect us to be back here for the fourth consecutive year.
CHANDLER DARE: Yeah, I mean, they're some big shoes to fill and they know that we're going to be calling them, texting them, asking them hundreds of questions throughout the year, but looking forward to it and we plan to be back here again and that's always the goal.
Q. You talked about it a couple weeks ago before the Regional the power of the SEC. And you see right here four teams and success for the SEC. What do you think this says about LSU's moving on Auburn, Georgia and what the SEC's been able to accomplish at this event specifically.
PATRICK MURPHY: I just think it's every weekend that we play in the SEC and there's eight, because we play 24 conference games, is a mini Super Regional and you get prepared to get to Regionals and your Super Regional. And then when you get here, it's almost like the hardest part is to get here. I know for us, when we get to regionals and there's no SEC team there it's like the biggest breather ever. And you get to play somebody that you played usually all year. So, but just to play week in, week out, against some of the best players in the country, it gets you prepared to get here.
Q. Sandra Simmons, not known as a big power hitter. But, so were you surprised at that lead off home run and how tough is that when the opening at bath is a score and you're immediately down?
PATRICK MURPHY: She's had a heck of a good year. When Beth (Torina) moved her to the lead off that's when they took off. And I've seen her on film hit home runs. I think it was the sixth maybe this year. But it's kind of a little bit of a shocker, it's full count and you don't kind of expect a leadoff home run. But she got a hold of a pitch that she could hit and but I thought Sydney kind of responded well the next inning. It's just a big momentum boost for them, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.
Game 8: LSU 6, Alabama 4
- In Game 8 of the 2016 Women’s College World Series, No. 10 seed LSU defeated No. 6 Alabama, 6-4, in the second game of Session 4. The Tigers improved to 51-17 this season, while the Crimson Tide fell to 51-14.
- With the win, LSU will next play at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday against the loser of Auburn-Georgia. The loss eliminates Alabama from the 2016 WCWS.
- In its fifth WCWS appearance (2001, ‘04, ’12, ’15, ‘16), LSU improved to 9-8 overall, while Alabama drops to
- 17-21 all-time in 11 appearances (2000, ’03, ’05, ’06, ’08, ’09, ’11, ’12, ’14, ’15, ’16). LSU is 2-0 all-time against the Crimson Tide at the WCWS.
- LSU first baseman Sandra Simmons hit her sixth home run of the season with a solo blast down the right field line to give LSU an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Simmons’ leadoff home run was the first of the season for the Tigers to begin a game. It also marked the first LSU leadoff home run to begin a game since 2009 (Kirsten Shortridge at Hawai’i, Feb. 7, 2009). Simmons finished 2-for- 3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
- The Tigers added four runs in the top of the fourth inning. Simmons drove in her second run of the day with a RBI single to left to extend LSU’s lead to 3-1. After a passed ball plated LSU’s Emily Griggs, Savannah Jaquish recorded a two-out RBI double to push LSU’s advantage to 6-1. Griggs reached base with a one-out double to right center.
- Sophomore Sydney Booker scored Alabama’s first run of the game as Leona Lafaele trimmed the deficit down to 2-1 with an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the third inning.
- Alabama added three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lafaele recorded her 15th home run of the season with a solo shot to left center field in the bottom of the sixth inning. Chandler Dare cut the deficit down to 6-3 with an RBI single to right center, scoring Marisa Runyon. Dare later scored on a LSU error to trim the Tigers’ lead down to 6-4.
- LSU pitcher Carley Hoover improved to 21-8, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits. The sophomore struck out two and walked two in the victory. Sophomore Allie Walljasper picked up her third save of the year (second in the postseason) by throwing the final 2.0 innings without allowing a run. Walljasper allowed just one hit and struck out one in relief.
- Alabama starting pitcher Sydney Littlejohn fell to 23-7 with the loss. In 4.2 innings of work, the sophomore surrendered four runs on five hits with one strikeout and two walks. Freshman Madi Moore tossed 2.1 innings in relief, allowing four hits and two runs.
- Alabama’s Hayley McCleney finished 2-for- 3 with a pair of doubles. She is the first player since 2010 to record two doubles in a WCWS game.
- LSU’s six runs tied a program record for a WCWS game. The Tigers also scored six in a 6-1 victory over Auburn in the 2015 WCWS. The Tigers’ nine hits against the Crimson Tide are tied for their second most in a WCWS game in LSU history.
- Attendance for Session 4 was 8,872.
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