WCWS Game 4 Quotes and Notes: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
THE MODERATOR: Here with Alabama, to my right we have Head Coach Patrick Murphy, Jaclyn Traina, Jadyn Spencer and Peyton Grantham. We will begin with an opening statement by Coach.
COACH MURPHY: Thanks for being here. I was worried after she gave up the home run to Pendley in the first and I thought their crowd would get into it. After that it was Jaclyn Traina. Thought she did a really good job against a very good hitting team. They're a dangerous team. They take their cuts and every time they swing you hold your breath. Our freshmen have been coming through the past three or four weekends and tonight again, Runyon did it and so did Peyton. It's a great start for us for the 2014 World Series.
Q. Jackie, can you talk about pitching around Chamberlain in particular? You gave up only one hit but looked like most of your walks looked like you selectively did that.
JACLYN TRAINA: She is a great hitter. I was nibbling at the plate and she was going to swing and if she got on by a walk that was okay. I mean she's a great hitter and I wasn't going to let her do any damage, so I was nibbling at the plate, seeing my boundaries.
Q. Peyton, the home run, the pitch, how did you approach that?
PEYTON GRANTHAM: Coach has been telling us all week to keep it simple and I was trying to see the ball big. She got me in the first atbat with the inside stuff. She had me with two strikes and I saw the changeup big and went with it.
Q. Jadyn, after her home run I guess you're up two runs and you have a chance to blow it open. Were you looking for that opportunity to not have a close game for a change?
JADYN SPENCER: I just think at that point you don't let up. Oklahoma is great team and you can't really sit on a tworun lead like that. So I think everyone in the lineup was trying to pile it on and come out with a win tonight.
Q. Coach, you mentioned when Jackie gave up the home run in the first inning you were worried, but how worried were you and did you feel like she was going to turn it around? Obviously she did.
COACH MURPHY: Yeah, I think a big turning point was when Chamberlain walked. Pendley came up again and it was (a) 20 (count). We called timeout and I could tell by her look she wasn't fazed and I don't think she was worried. She got to 30 and then came back and struck her out. I thought that was a huge moment for us to get the momentum back to us. To sit down a really good hitter.
Q. The reaction after you gave up the second run to go up 21 on that error, what was that like?
JACLYN TRAINA: I had no worries. I went to our infield and I said, “Don't worry about it, we're going to get some more.” I knew they had my back and I had theirs and things like that happen in a game. We just learn from it and move on.
Q. Have you ever thought about telling Jackie it's the second inning at the start of the game? Seems like that's only her trouble spot — early.
COACH MURPHY: Tomorrow she'll spend like three more minutes in the bullpen and maybe it will feel like the second inning.
Q. Coach, you mentioned how you were worried about the crowd getting into it. How much, pulling back on 2012, the rain game you guys went through and Jackie can maybe touch on that as well. Give us the sense of what it's like to be that other team playing on a neutral site for a national championship with an asterisk. And after that, Peyton, your experience doing this the first time on the big stage?
COACH MURPHY: All of us would love if the World Series was 45 minutes from Tuscaloosa but this is a great site and it belongs here. If Oklahoma makes it, everybody has to deal with that. They're a very good program. They've been here nine times so I think everybody is used to that.
I thought the promo was good at the beginning but once the game starts, half my team this is the first time. Nine of the 18 girls, first time they've been here. So it's a whole new experience for half the team. Once the game goes you don't even remember what happened two years ago. So I don't think it was that big of a deal but maybe Jackie has a different opinion.
JACLYN TRAINA: Every time you step out there it's a great feeling. When I was out there it felt good, and I remembered what it felt like. I think that helped me in this game because I remembered what it felt like. The crowd was great and the team, I could feel their momentum in the dugout as well and I could feed off that. I knew they had my back, so it was easy for me to go out in the circle like that.
PEYTON GRANTHAM: Being my first time here, we first pulled up and I was like, “Wow.” It was kind of overwhelming but it's like he said: once you get on the field it's all the same. You focus on the game. And all the people there, you don't notice them. It's been an awesome experience so far.
Q. Coach, talk about winning the first game.
COACH MURPHY: Definitely huge. We have been on the other side of that many, many times, 7 years. It was a long time coming. Once you do it the first time it makes it easier to stay in the winning bracket. You don't want to fight back two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. It helps the pitching staff and everybody. Today was hot. Jackie came in after warming up and she goes, “Man, it's hot out there.”
And we started about 8:50, I think. The heat takes a toll on you and the timing of the events and everything. It's a big advantage, I think, to win the first game.
Q. You don't see many ball caps like you wear, is there anything behind wearing the baseball hat?
PEYTON GRANTHAM: I just like it. I think it's easier to play in. I played baseball until I was 14 years old, so I was used to playing in a hat.
Q. How do you feel about playing another SEC team and if you're going to play another SEC team are you glad it's someone you haven't seen?
COACH MURPHY: No, I would rather play someone we haven't seen. We know their kids, it's a veteran team. I think they have five or six seniors that play. We absolutely love what Rachel has done there. Classy team, they do things the right way. She's built it from the ground up. I think it's a Cinderella story. They have been so close the last few years and to get it done at UCLA is remarkable. I think it's going to be a great game. We respect the heck out of them. SEC scheduling this year, you don't play four of the teams in the league and it was them and Tennessee. We could have played Tennessee right now, so that was going to be a little different, too. But I think it's going to be a great game and their pitcher is on a roll, too.
Q. Thoughts on who you're going to pitch tomorrow?
COACH MURPHY: I'll think about it for a little bit.
Q. Can you talk about the SEC winning all three games today, all three that they were in? How far the league has come?
COACH MURPHY: Kentucky finished seventh, I believe, and I don't know if anybody thought they could go out to UCLA and lose the first game and come back and win two in a row at UCLA. That says a lot about our league, I think. It's just the strength from the top to the bottom – it’s been very good the last several years. Tim always does a great job and Georgia had a great year, always does. And Ralph and Karen were close. Every year it's close, top to bottom. The very first game this year, Ole Miss went down to Florida and beat them 20. Ole Miss finished last in the league and Florida is sitting here. It's like you can't take a weekend off, take a game off, because whoever you are playing could beat you. And I think it's prepared all three teams for this.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: We’re here with Oklahoma Head Coach Patty Gasso and Lauren Chamberlain. We will begin with an opening statement from Coach Gasso.
COACH GASSO: I thought Jaclyn Traina threw very well, and I thought Alabama brought their bats. They swung it really well tonight and they took advantage of opportunities that they had.
I feel like we had a little uncharacteristic approach tonight. I know that we're a better offensive team. We hit a few balls hard. We had a couple of opportunities. Shelby got things started, so I felt like momentum was really on our side and we were starting to go with some things. And then they answered like a good team does. They answered after that and then in the fourth, when we got them to create an error to allow us to score a run, they, like a good team does, answered back when that happened.
I credit them for answering anything we tried to put out there, but we didn't put anything out there. We're a better team than that. I think myself and the entire team was disappointed with our offensive approach tonight. I guess the best way to say it is we were playing defense on offense and we're better than that. I thought Erin Miller did a good job of finding her way on base. We expected they would go around Lauren and I thought Shelby swung the bat well tonight. But after that we just didn't have much production and against a team like Alabama you’ve got to have production.
So we had a talk in the locker room about a new approach in order to stay in this tournament, but I felt like we just didn't do a good job of competing with everything we had from the start of the game to the finish. There were signs but it just wasn't enough, not against a team like that. Gotta regroup and come back and fight, fight, fight.
Q. Patty, could you talk about Stevens' performance in the circle?
COACH GASSO: I thought Kelsey started strong and threw some really good pitches, and some of the pitches that she threw that got hit hard looked like they were pretty good pitches. For her first big outing, I know she gave up some big runs and that's unfortunate. But I thought for her first outing she was okay. I thought she competed and what I really love is what Pendley did coming in to try to keep us in the game. You can't give up the bombs like that. You just can't. You’ve got to keep the ball in the yard. But she competed tonight. I felt that for sure.
Q. You mentioned that you thought you were a little defensive at the plate. Is it hard to not be defensive when Traina is pitching as well as she did and mowing you down with strikeouts?
LAUREN CHAMBERLAIN: We had a plan and it didn't get executed. We were defensive but we knew what we had to do. It just wasn't clicking.
Q. Kind of following up on that, Traina threw about 50% strikes, which is not the kind of numbers you see in a onehitter. Is that part of what might have kept you off balance?
COACH GASSO: Was the fact that?
Q. She threw about 50% strikes.
COACH GASSO: Part of it is I don't think we did a good job of swinging at strikes. We started chasing things out of the zone. But a good pitcher can deceive you that way and that's what she's very good at.
Q. Top of the 4th you got Callie and Erin on first and second there and Callie takes a big leap and kind of stops. Was that a called play? Was she supposed to go or was she supposed to stop?
COACH GASSO: I don't know what she was supposed to do, but it worked.
Q. Lauren, you guys have been an outstanding hitting team for the last few years. In this game, as you pointed out, you weren't as aggressive as you wanted to be, so what will you guys do to regroup for Saturday?
LAUREN CHAMBERLAIN: We have a plan for each pitcher we face. Key word is “clutch.” Just clutching up. Finding a way. We just kind of got late in the game thinking it's gonna come, it's gonna come. It’s go time from here on out. Every team is good here, so I don’t think you can take a pitch off while you're in the World Series and that proved tonight.
Q. Coach, Alabama's coach was saying he would rather not face a team he's already played. You guys play Lafayette. Does that help? Do you feel like, knowing your opponent already?
COACH GASSO: I feel the opposite. I want to play a team that we know, especially a team that we didn't have success against because anytime you get a chance to rebound from that I think we're a completely different team than what Lafayette saw back in March. I know this team is excited to play them. I think we're both familiar with each other but, again, we're different. And I think that will help us.
Q. Coach, could you describe the effort of Shelby Pendley, the way she flipped over the dugout and the way she was going after balls?
COACH GASSO: She's a competitor. The fact that she can play a great third base, I can bring her in to pitch, she can keep us in a game by coming in in relief. She hits a firstinning home run. She is a complete player. She can run well. She's just a complete player. It's been enjoyable watching her get better. She loves to get better and loves to work and loves to train. She loves that opportunity to compete. She is one of the better ones I've seen in a long time.
Q. Patty, you've been here in a hole before and you can speak to how hard it is to dig out. What do you have ahead of you?
COACH GASSO: Completely different approach, and I think a day off right now is good for us to just kind of gather it up. This team would want to get back on the field right now and try to make it right. We need to take some time to gather this together and have a better fight. I need leaders, upperclassmen, those who have been here before to lead the way through example. I need a hunger, I need a passion. If those things come we're going to do well. We will have success but we need to bring that from the start to the finish. Can't take a pitch off. We took too many pitches off tonight. You cannot take a pitch off. Not at this venue, not at this level; you cannot take a break. You have to continue throughout. You can't step up in the 7th inning when you're down by 4 and decide you want to get into the game. You just can't. That doesn't make sense. I'm trusting you're going to see a team that's going to look different, that's going to fight, that's going to put it out on the field just like we did this last weekend with Tennessee in order to get us here. That's the style and approach we need to take.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
In the fourth game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series, No. 2 seed Alabama defeated No. 7 seed Oklahoma by a score of 6-2. The Crimson Tide improved to 51-11 on the year, while the Sooners fell to 50-12.
With the win, Alabama will next play on Friday at 8:30 p.m. CT against No. 14 seed Kentucky. Oklahoma will face No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette at 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.
The matchup featured the last two national champions. Alabama defeated Oklahoma in the 2012 championship series, while the Sooners downed Tennessee to win in 2013.
Both teams are making their ninth WCWS appearances. Alabama improved to 14-15 all-time in the event with the win today, while Oklahoma fell to 16-13. The win marked the third straight WCWS in which the Crimson Tide has won its opening game (it lost its first six WCWS opening-round contests).
Alabama senior pitcher Jaclyn Traina improved to 24-3 on the season and tallied her 104th career win, tying her for seventh all-time in SEC history. In a full game’s work, Traina allowed just one hit and five walks and struck out nine batters.
The Sooners struck first with a two-out home run from junior Shelby Pendley in the top of the first inning, her team-high 18th of the year. The solo shot gave Pendley 59 home runs in her career. It was her 40th at OU, moving her into sole possession of eighth place all-time in program history. Additionally, her 18 home runs are tied for eighth most in OU single-season history.
With the first-inning home run, Pendley reached 65 runs scored on the year, tied for seventh most in a season in Big 12 history and tied for sixth most in OU history. Her 156 total bases this year are sixth best in a season in Big 12 history, while her 38 extra-base hits on the year tie her for fifth most in OU single-season history.
Alabama freshman Marisa Runyon tied the game in the second inning with a single that dropped just inside the right field line, scoring a run from third base. Runyon now has seven hits and four RBIs in the postseason and boasts a four-game hitting streak.
Alabama hit two home runs in the contest — a three-run shot from freshman Peyton Grantham in the fourth inning and a two-run blast from junior Jadyn Spencer in the fifth. It was the team’s fourth multi-home run game in six postseason contests this year.
Grantham’s home run was her fifth of the year and second of the postseason. Of her three hits this postseason, two of them have been home runs. Spencer’s homer was her team-leading 13th of the year and brought her RBI total to a team-high 49. Spencer has hit safely in all but one game this postseason.
Oklahoma sophomore pitcher Kelsey Stevens fell to 37-9 this season. She allowed seven hits and six runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings. She also walked one batter and struck out five. In 1.2 innings of relief work, Pendley allowed no runs or hits, walked one batter while striking out two.
Sophomore Erin Miller reached base in the fourth inning via her second walk of the game. Her two walks tied a career high, a number she has tallied two other times this season.
The six runs given up by Oklahoma are the second most in its WCWS history. The most came against Alabama in game two of the 2012 championship series when the Crimson Tide scored eight.
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