WCWS Game 5 Quotes and Notes: Florida 4, Oregon 0
THE MODERATOR: Good evening, welcome to Day 2 of the Women's College World Series. With us from Florida we have head Coach Tim Walton, Hannah Rogers, Briana Little and Bailey Castro. We will begin with an opening statement.
COACH WALTON: First, just want to congratulate the Gators on a great game. I thought Hannah pitched a wonderful game and the game plan going into this was executed excellently. I thought we did a really good job. I know we didn't finish as strong as we would like. But we had such a main focus on Hawkins and the way they brought her in there, that had a lot to do with changing the eye level and the spin. We came out with a good plan and executed a good plan and I think it all sounds great. But Hannah pitched a great game and that's why we're here right now.
Q. Bailey, can you talk about how locked in you were today and did you earn anymore funnel cakes?
BAILEY CASTRO: No funnel cakes today. We've been talking all year about line drives and that was my “go-to” play of the day, to go up there with line drives and it worked out well for me.
Q. Hannah, do you feel as confident as you have maybe ever been in terms of the command of your stuff right now?
HANNAH ROGERS: Yeah, I feel very confident just locating pitches and the way I feel right now. My body feels great and the defense we have behind us and how good the hitters are hitting right now. Q. As far as defense behind her, what's it like to stand back there and see what she is doing, 28 straight scoreless innings in NCAA Tournament play?
BRIANA LITTLE: It's just a great feeling to know that you have a great pitcher out there throwing strikes, and she has confidence in her defense.
BAILEY CASTRO: I grind for Hannah and she grinds for us, so I’ve got her back and she has mine.
Q. Hannah, you have been here since your freshman year and you are one win away from getting back to the finals. Talk about that.
HANNAH ROGERS: It's exciting. We will focus on our next opponent and do the things we need to do to get ready for them.
Q. How much did it help seeing Hawkins yesterday as opposed to you guys facing up in Game 1 right out of the shoot? Does that extra day of inperson scouting make a big difference? Same with the two hitters, if you guys picked up on anything preparing for today?
COACH WALTON: I think in all fairness, I think we really didn't have that much time to prepare. We had maybe less than 24 hours to put together a game plan and try to execute that. I spent most of the afternoon after we watched the game here preparing. I sat behind home plate and watched her spin the ball just to see what it looked like. And I had an iPad, iPhone and laptop tuned in to some other games and it helped us for sure. Being here in person helps you for sure.
Again, I just think our hitters capitalized on a couple of mistakes that she may have made. She wasn't getting that pitch on the outside corner that she wanted so badly. As we watched that, scouted that, when she gets that pitch she is a lot tougher because it's not a strike. It's off the corner, it's not a strike, it's coming back. But it's a tough pitch to hit if she is getting that one, because the game plan coming into today was swing at strikes and really try to go the other way, stay on the top half and don't over swing. I think we did a good job of that early. Q. Hannah, you shut out the top overall seed in the tournament. What does that do for your confidence?
HANNAH ROGERS: It boosts my confidence because Oregon is a great team. Going into the next game and staying with the same game plan and focusing on the location and hitting certain spots for each batter.
Q. Tim, there are going to be two SEC teams that start 20 this week. How has the depth of your conference and the challenge of that part of the season, how has that changed since your first trip in '08?
COACH WALTON: You know, I think the depth is obviously really improved. I said it this year: if you took the top two teams out of the SEC and you took the two bottom teams out and you bunched them all up in the middle, I haven't seen anybody better. I thought the way the whole league competed this year was what's showing right now. Showed through regionals, getting 11 teams in. It's a very strong conference. I'll be honest — I said too, the athletic directors and the administration, they are pouring a lot of resources into the facilities and are doing a great job of supporting the student-athletes. I think that's something that I'm not saying it hasn't been there, because I haven’t been here. These kids are treated first class, and their softball players are doing things they love to do since they were little and I think that's one of the biggest reasons for me. They're giving them everything they need to be successful as a student and as an athlete. And that's huge.
Q. Two questions. On the high popup they didn't catch, do you chalk that up as a lucky break? How do you look at it.
HANNAH ROGERS: I look at it as putting the ball in play and putting pressure on the other team and capitalizing and hustling to the next base.
COACH WALTON: I agree. If you're dogging it and feeling sorry for yourself and you just popped up a twoout, twostrike pitch, we're not scoring runs, doing things. It's a hustle play. It was hit high. The sun was brutal. I don't think the sun was a big part in that, I think she tripped or did something going backwards. But it was a hustle play and you need those breaks to win games here at the College World Series.
Q. Tim, the way this team is playing, I know there are still goals to win it all but how much appreciation do you have for the way you're playing the game?
COACH WALTON: I did a radio show this morning and talked about the level of confidence that I have in each of these players; that they're doing their part. I've made that challenge to them in postseason. They set a lofty goal and each of our players need to do their part. You just don't get to the postseason and get by. You have to figure out how to get better. If you can run more, get physically stronger and mentally tougher. I give them a ton of credit for buying in and being accountable, and all 17 of the girls are doing their part to help the Gators win softball games.
Q. Coach, been in the finals once before. Come close twice? Close enough you can taste it right now?
COACH WALTON: No. This is a great spot to be in, no doubt; being 20 in the winners’ bracket. We came through it undefeated until we got to the championship. We came through the losers’ bracket to get to the championship. I don’t know the bracket. I don't know how it turns, flips, moves, to be honest with you. But the great part for me is somebody has to beat us twice and I do like our chances with regard to that and the way we're playing right now.
Q. Touch on how well the defense played behind Hannah, the two double plays, Medina's play and how well the defense played.
COACH WALTON: Very well. Again, give credit to Coach Rocha and the stuff she has given me on scouting. The kid hit a ball, probably a double, in the gap and Kailee was standing right there. Medina goes to her backhand and comes up and throws a bullet across the diamond. Yeah, it's impressive. If we can play defense like that we are definitely going to be tough to beat. She is throwing the ball well, we're hitting and we can keep the defense going. We put a lot of emphasis on our defense, as we've talked about for obvious reasons. I'm proud of the way they are communicating with each other. That's making them confident. It's Katie, Stew, Hannah; and they're all doing a great job and I appreciate that a lot.
Q. Bailey the longest home run of your career, the longest I've seen in Oklahoma City. You hit 'em longer I want to know when and where.
BAILEY CASTRO: I got a good pitch and I took a hack. That's kinda my thing. I take hacks. Felt nice coming off the bat, smiling all the way for sure.
Q. Do you guys think it's the longest?
HANNAH ROGERS: She can hit it further.
COACH WALTON: It was the easiest swing I've seen to hit the ball that far. Usually she swings out of her shoes. She can hit it far, but that was the easiest swing I've seen her have.
Q. The past trips you have made here, have you had teams in your own mind that you felt peaked by the time they got here or weren't playing well enough to win at the time they got here?
COACH WALTON: The 2009 team was probably the best team that I've seen start to finish. The 2008 team — we won 70 games but getting here for the first time is a little different. The 2011 team surprised the heck out of me, getting to the championship. We scored 11 runs in one inning against Alabama to get that going. This team has been one of the more consistent teams. We've had a couple bad games, lost a couple games in a row for other reasons.
We've been consistent. Our 8 and 9 hitters are doing things and this has been probably one of the maybe the loosest team that I've coached here at the College World Series. They're loose, competitive, but they're enjoying it and having fun and doing their part. But they're pretty loose.
Q. Bailey, can you give us more detail on the home run? It looked like you hit it off the upper portion of the bat. Is that how you usually hit most of your home runs? Was there anything unusual about it? It looked great coming off the bat. How would you breakdown the swing and the trajectory?
BAILEY CASTRO: I know it was a changeup. I changed to the slap and I think that has been really effective for me. I can stay on top of the ball a little more. I think the pitch was a little up in the zone. I kept my barrel above it, I took an easy swing and it kind of went out.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Here with us from Oregon to my right, Head Coach Mike White, Cheridan Hawkins, Karine Shaver and Courtney Ceo. We will begin with an opening statement from Coach.
COACH WHITE: First off, I want to congratulate Florida on playing an excellent game. They played well defensively, pitched well and took the most of their opportunities at bat. I'm certainly going to be happy now that Dallas Escobedo and Hannah Rogers are both graduating. They have certainly been a pain in my butt the last few years. They have pitched well. What can you say about Hannah Rogers? She stepped up, took advantage of a good strike zone for her and controlled us. We got three hits, and everything we seemed to hit they made plays on. They played well defensively. The big thing for us is to bounce back and see what we can do tomorrow night against whoever we play.
I feel confident in our team. It just didn't go our way today, but I'm confident that we will bounce back tomorrow.
Q. Courtney, you accomplished a real milestone in softball today — 100 hits. I can't find anyone else in the record book who has 100 hits. Congratulations.
COURTNEY CEO: Thank you.
Q. What did you hit? You all were starving for hits out there. What pitch did you like?
COURTNEY CEO: Thank you. I had no idea, but thank you. She was giving me similar pitches throughout my atbat, the same sequence. I just knew that I had to hit a pitch early in the count so I didn't get behind and just, you know, looked for that outside pitch she was giving me. And that's the one I ended up hitting.
COURTNEY CEO: Thank you.
Q. You said in your opening comments that the strike zone was a good one “for her,” meaning Hannah. Was it not a good strike zone for Cheridan?
COACH WHITE: No, it wasn't, because the same pitches that were being called for Hannah were not being called for us. And then our right hander came in and he called those calls. It just wasn't I'm not saying it was a bad strike zone, it just wasn't a good strike zone for our left hander. It created a lot of pressure. We couldn't get those calls. That's just the way it goes.
Q. Karine, can you explain what happened on the popup?
KARINE SHAVER: I made a slight mental error. I let my nerves get the best of me and I’m ready to come back tomorrow.
Q. Did it hit your glove?
KARINE SHAVER: Yes.
Q. Cheridan, seems like from the first inning on you weren't quite as sharp as you were yesterday. Was it something else besides the strike zone?
CHERIDAN HAWKINS: No, I definitely think I could have hit my corners a lot better and mixed better today than I did today. I think it was definitely more of a mental error.
Q. Coach White, tomorrow you will face the winner of Oklahoma or Lafayette. Could you talk about those two teams and your opinion of them?
COACH WHITE: Sure. As you know, Oklahoma has been hitting the ball well lately, Kelsey Stevens is doing a great job pitching. We know her a little bit from the Pac-12 last year with Stanford. They had to win that game. There are players we know about. We faced them last year early on, and they handled us pretty easily. So it would be nice to get another shot at them.
Lafayette we haven't seen in a while. We saw them a couple of years ago. Obviously we saw a lot of tape on them and I'm sure they're going to give us a great game. Whoever is left in this tournament are great teams. So it's going to be an exciting matchup. As I told the ladies, the toughest game for us is the next game. It always is after a loss. It's how you bounce back. Obviously a lot of disappointment. We didn't come out and play the way we wanted to play. We got “handled” to tell you the truth. I don't necessarily say the best team won, but the team that played the best, and that was the Florida Gators — they outhit us, they outpitched us and they outfielded us. They deserved to win the game.
And now it's about whether we can bounce back and play the game the way we've been playing all year, where we've hit well and we've pitched well, and we've played and done everything correctly. So again, it's about how we bounce back tomorrow and I'm excited to see how we perform tomorrow night.
Q. Courtney, you are obviously the senior leader, one game from your career ending. In terms of going into tomorrow and coming through the losers’ basket, you will be glad to know that Coach Walton announced they made the final one year coming out of the losers’ bracket. What's going to be your approach in speaking to your team as a leader? What's the message you want to give?
COURTNEY CEO: Just the message that we have done all year. It's a process. We need to stick to our plan and play our game. We need to not focus on the other team but focus on ourselves. Do what we do best. We do best when we play team offense, when we pass the bat, when we see strikes in the zone. We pick each other up; that's what we have done all year. So whether we get down one run, two runs or even more, it's just picking us up. Pick our pitchers up, our pitchers will pick our batters up and just really play a team game. If we can get that message across and
focus on ourselves and play team softball, we're going to be fine. We're going to be fine.
Q. Coach Walton said he never seen Hannah Rogers pitch as well as she has pitched the last couple of weeks. What did y'all see from her? How hard was she to hit today?
COURTNEY CEO: Hannah Rogers is a great pitcher; she throws a great game. She knew what she was getting, with the umpire, she was getting those strikes, and she pounded that zone. She kept us off balance keeping it around the zone, not necessarily throwing strikes but getting us to chase. She had a great game today, so props to her for that.
KARINE SHAVER: Same thing that Courtney said, she hit her spots and did a great job of capitalizing on our mistakes.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
No. 5 seed Florida won the fifth game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series against No. 1 seed Oregon by a 4-0 score. The Gators improved to 52-12 on the season, while the Ducks fell to 55-8-1. Florida is 2-0 in this year’s WCWS, and Oregon is 1-1.
Florida advances to the semifinals and will play Sunday at noon CT. Oregon will face the winner of the Saturday afternoon contest between No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 7 seed Oklahoma at 8:30 p.m. CT Saturday.
In its sixth WCWS appearance (2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, ’14), Florida improved to 14-11 all-time with today’s win. Oregon dropped to 3-5 all-time in its third WCWS appearance (1989, 2012, ’14).
The Gators have outscored their opponents 64-4 so far in the 2014 NCAA postseason. They have posted seven shutouts in eight games. Today, Florida had at least one base runner in every inning but the seventh.
Florida starting pitcher Hannah Rogers improved to 28-8 this season, throwing her second complete-game shutout in as many days. The senior gave up three hits and one walk while striking out five. Rogers is the NCAA active career wins leader with 125.
Junior Bailey Castro put the Gators on the board with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. The homer was her eighth this season. Castro finished the game 3 for 4 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs.
Florida junior Briana Little added to the Gators’ lead in the third with a two-run base hit. Sophomores Kelsey Stewart and Kirsti Merritt each went 2 for 3 with a run scored.
Oregon leadoff hitter Courtney Ceo extended her hitting and on-base streaks to 17 and 30 games, respectively. She reached base on a bunt single in the sixth inning for her 100th hit of her senior campaign.
Defensively, Florida tallied two double plays in the contest. Entering the game, Oregon had hit into just seven double plays all year. The Ducks also had two double plays tallied against them in an 8-7 win at Utah on March 22.
Oregon’s three hits were its fewest of the season (previous low was four in a 3-1, 10-inning win at UNLV on Feb. 14). Before today’s contest, the Ducks had at least eight hits in nine straight games. The loss marked the second shutout of the season for Oregon, which fell to James Madison 3-0 on March 15.
Oregon starting pitcher Cheridan Hawkins fell to 34-5 on the season. The sophomore allowed five hits, four runs (all earned) and two walks while striking out three batters in 3.1 innings. In 3.2 innings of relief work, junior Karissa Hovinga gave up three hits and no runs while striking out four.
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