Texas A&M Post Game 1 Press Conference
2017 Women's College World Series
Thursday, June 1 2017
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Florida – 8, Texas A & M – 0
Texas A&M interview with Jo Evans, Keeli Milligan, Samantha Show, and Tori Vidales.
JO EVANS: Well, the story for us was just we didn't pitch as well as we're used to. We got behind a lot of hitters. We had walks. We pitched from behind a bunch, and Florida is always good at discipline at the plate and taking free passes, and they did that really well today.
You know, we just needed to do a better job of attacking the zone and understanding that our pitches are good enough to get people out, that even though you're on a stage like this and even though it's Florida, the No. 1 team in the country, you still have to believe that the pitches you throw for strikes are good enough to get out, and we've done such a great job all year at that, and this was just a day where we weren't very good at it.
You know, I expect our kids will bounce back from that. Offensively I thought we did a nice job. In the first inning really setting the tone of Barnhill is not going to be someone that's just going to throw it by us and we're going to take a bunch of strikeouts. I thought Keeli Milligan did a great job to set the tone and work her way into a walk. Tori Vidales just hit the ball on the screws in that first inning, goes right to their left fielder. So I saw some positive things about our offense. When you get such a deficit early like that, it makes it hard on an offense. You keep the game close, then you've got a chance to win it down the stretch and get a little more comfortable.
But you know, it's lesson learned. My message to our team is trust yourself; there's a reason you're playing in the College World Series. Trust your great ability and have confidence in yourself, and things will fall into place.
Q. Tori, it's almost like a repeat of the Knoxville game last Friday night. Can you talk about how this kind of happened again and the mindset moving forward?
TORI VIDALES: I definitely think it was a little bit different than Tennessee, that game, because in that game we as a defense didn't do our job, and I felt like there wasn't really anything we could do today that would, I guess, make that much better. It wasn't that we just fell apart. Florida just attacked and they did what they were supposed to do. I mean, offensively we kind of got a little tight. We could have hit a few more pitches and not taken as many first-pitch strikes, so that would have been nice.
But yeah, I mean, really just focusing on the next game even though this isn't a three-game series. We know that, and we know that we have to come out and play for our life.
Q. Keeli, like Coach mentioned, you guys came out swinging in the first inning. Was that the plan, to go at her and be aggressive and swing at the pitches that were thrown in the zone early?
KEELI MILLIGAN: That definitely was the plan like it is for every game. We want to attack the pitches she gives us. We know Barnhill is a good pitcher and so the pitches that she made some mistakes on, the ones she leaves over the plate, we want to make her pay for those, so we were definitely focused on making her throw strikes.
Q. From your vantage point, what was it about that offense that didn't quit until they literally came off the field with runners in scoring position?
SAMANTHA SHOW: I know from when I was pitching I was leaving balls over the plate when I shouldn't have been, and with two strikes I was adjusting to the umpire's strike zone, and so I was leaving balls over the plate. They just attacked my mistakes and made us pay for it.
Q. Coach, you guys didn't play Florida in the regular season. You didn't see them in the SEC tournament. Does it make it difficult to prepare for a team like that, or is it easier with all the technology that you have available?
JO EVANS: Well, the technology is certainly helpful, but it's always best to have the hands-on experience, and you see that from our Tennessee series. We dropped the series to Tennessee, we end up getting sent there in our Super Regional, and we felt it was so familiar to us, it was a comfortable situation. So yeah, Florida with their pitching, you like to see them as much as you possibly can.
The one thing we just did not do well at the plate today was — we're talking about attack the strike zone early, and we did that some in the first inning or so, and then we got away from that, and I thought that really hurt us. You do not want to be up there with two strikes against them.
But yeah, always the more looks you get off a pitcher, the more you understand their tendencies and timing.
Q. Keeli and Sam, while the issues were a little different between the Tennessee game and the SEC tournament game and this game, is there something to that first game of a tournament with this team that needs a little bit of adjustment or kind of getting your feet wet in the tournament or the venue?
KEELI MILLIGAN: It's just about us being comfortable and sticking to our game plan. It doesn't matter who we're playing. I firmly believe that we're a team that can beat anybody in the nation at any given time, so it's just about, like Coach said, when we got a little bit away from our plan and we got a little bit of strikes on us, it's just a matter of sticking to the plan, and I really believe that if we do that, it doesn't matter who we play and doesn't matter what game it is of the tournament, we can really do something.
SAMANTHA SHOW: Same. (Laughter).
Q. Coach, is there something that you see in your team that takes them a game to get adjusted to or kind of get the jitters or the butterflies down?
JO EVANS: No, not really. We won a lot of Friday night games that gave us a chance to be the No. 9 seed in the country. I give credit to our opponent today, Florida. A lot of teams might have a challenge in a first game in the World Series against Florida, so it's not something I'm anxious about or worrying about.
I do know that, yeah, when you play in the World Series, you're in, you're out, you're going to be that much more comfortable, you're going to be acclimated to the environment and the routine and the protocol and all of that. But no, I just think our kids have to make sure that they trust themselves in any situation, whether it be against a No. 1 team in the country or whether it be against a 4 seed at regionals.
Q. Jo, how much was that clearly adjusting to the tight strike zone and possibly that nerves played into that, as well, when she doesn't get those calls that maybe she got last week?
JO EVANS: Well, that's just a part of pitching. The umpire is not going to give you what you want. The umpire is going to give you what he sees as a strike, and so to me that's just a part of the game and something that we need to make sure the pitching staff, that we can adjust to. As I would say, spit on it and move on.
Q. I'm from Riley Sartain's hometown. What has she done for you and your program?
JO EVANS: What Riley has done has been an example of what it looks like to have tremendous work ethic, to be impeccable with her word, that she stands behind what she says. She's the last one out there on the field at night. At times she'll go and turn on the lights and take the freshmen with her.
She also takes responsibility. She's someone who understands accountability, and if she's made a mistake or done something wrong or hasn't stepped up, she owns it. She does not make excuses. She is someone who I think will become a tremendous leader for us. That's what I want out of her, because she's someone who will say the right things and do the right things and make the sacrifices necessary to make a program as good as it can possibly be.
Q. I know y'all have played ball all your lives and been through it, but to get run ruled on national television, is there any extra effect or motivation when that type of thing plays out?
TORI VIDALES: I think a loss is a loss. It doesn't matter what the score is. It's pretty much the same. I don't really take it any differently. They could have scored one run and I still would have been pretty upset that we lost, but we're just trying to come back and bounce back and worry about the next game and not the past game.
KEELI MILLIGAN: Yeah, I feel like at that point it's going to hurt like maybe even more if we lose by one run because I felt like there's just that one little thing we could have done that could have made it better. It doesn't matter who's watching on TV. I told my teammates before, let's just don't bore worry about the crowd, don't worry about anything, let's fall back on one another, and I really, really, really hope that's what we're going to be able to do is fall back and trust one another.
Q. Jo, I realize it's the same as last week, but how do you balance light and softball with Trinity right now?
JO EVANS: She just jumps right back in and has assimilated herself. I just think she's so happy to be among her friends and to have a distraction and to be able to get away from her sadness, and our kids are a loose bunch. They're wacky, and so it brings out her wacky, and to me that's good therapy right there. I just want to make sure she stays in this moment because she will forever the rest of her life have the sadness of her dad passing.
So what matters right now is to have the joy of being at the College World Series with your teammates, and I think she can understand that and wrap her brain around that.
Q. Jo, is it good that this team has the day off tomorrow, or after this game would you like to get back out on the field?
JO EVANS: Well, I just hate losing, and so sometimes — I'm just glad I'm not a football coach so I don't have to wait a whole week to play after a loss. But in this situation I think it's good for us to be able to take a step back, sort of calm ourselves down, and look at our game and understand, you know what, we made that a lot harder than we needed to. We made that more difficult on ourselves. And no disrespect to Florida. I mean, you've got to play a great, great game to beat them, but you also can't beat yourself.
I was really pleased to see our defense come out and be relaxed and play the game, so when you're asking about first game jitters, to me that's what would present itself if we had first-game jitters. But yeah, we'll take a day. We'll kind of regroup. We'll go hit tomorrow, and we'll rally around each other.
Game 1: Florida 8, Texas A&M 0 (5 innings)
- In the first game of the 2017 Women’s College World Series, No. 1 seed Florida defeated No. 9 seed Texas A&M, 8-0, in five innings. The Gators improved to 56-8, while the Aggies dropped to 47-12.
- Florida advances to face the winner of game two between No. 5 seed UCLA and No. 13 seed LSU on Friday at 6 p.m. CT. Texas A&M will face the loser of UCLA-LSU in an elimination game on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.
- In their eighth WCWS appearance, the Gators (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’17) improved to 23-12, while the Aggies fell to 21-14 in their eighth WCWS appearance (’83, ’84, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’07, ’08, ’17).
- Florida junior Janell Wheaton put the Gators on the board with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. The Gators extended their lead to 4-0 as Nicole DeWhitt’s RBI single drove in two runs.
- Freshman Sophia Reynose pushed Florida’s lead to 5-0 with a RBI single in the bottom of the third inning.
- The Gators tacked on their final three runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth with a three-run blast to right field off the bat of Aleshia Ocasio, her third home run of the year. Ocasio finished 2-for-3 at the plate.
- Florida sophomore Kelly Barnhill improved to 25-3, allowing no runs and three hits in 4.0 innings of work. Senior Delanie Gourley tossed an inning of relief, allowing just one hit.
- The Gators picked up their 39th shutout of the season, which ranks first in the nation. Florida’s 39 shutouts are tied for the most in program single-season history (39, 2009).
- Texas A&M’s Trinity Harrington took the loss in the circle, falling to 14-3. Harrington allowed four earned runs and five hits in two innings pitched.
- The mercy-run win for Florida marked the first five-inning game at the WCWS since the Gators defeated Baylor, 11-0, in 2014.
- Thursday’s game was the first meeting between the two teams at the WCWS since 2008. The Gators are 2-1 against the Aggies all-time at the WCWS.
Fastpitch TV Sites:
This content is provided with a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. Feel free to use this content, so long as you give credit to Gary Leland, of Fastpitch.TV and link to www.Fastpitch.TV