WCWS Game 7 Quotes and Notes: Baylor 7, Florida St. 2
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Would like to welcome you to Day 3 of the 2014 Women's College World Series. With us is Baylor Head Coach Glenn Moore, Jordan Strickland, Heather Stearns and Linsey Hays. We will begin with an opening statement from Coach Moore.
COACH MOORE: As a team we loaded the bus when we left Waco and we certainly knew we were a better team than showed up here in Oklahoma City. We’re glad to have an opportunity to do that. I’m extremely proud of Heather Stearns, who hasn't thrown in a long, long time. We have tried to create gamelike situations for Heather and Liz both in practices and we have been playing so well we haven't had to go deep into our bullpen, but for her to sit and watch and warmed up and warmed up and came back out and didn't get to pitch. For her to come out and throw a game like that against Florida State, a greathitting team, just I can't say enough good things about her. It was an exceptionally wellpitched game and, you know, it's Jordan swinging the bat. Really stepped up.
I think our whole team was more relaxed this time, for whatever reason. We were uptight and dug a hole quick and weren't able to climb out of it and it just continued to snowball. That's not who we were. We knew that wasn't who we were against Florida. This is a team that we have had all year and I'm very proud of the way they played.
Q. Heather, like Glenn mentioned, you hadn't started in almost a month. Were you surprised at all that you got the start? What was your mindset going out there?
HEATHER STEARNS: I got the text from Coach Moore last night and maybe a little bit surprised, but really excited. I've been waiting for my turn and just excited and ready to go and kind of get out there.
Q. What was working for you?
HEATHER STEARNS: Really just mixing all my pitches. Felt like I had good command, good placement. Just go right at them. Don't have fear and just work my pitches in all zones.
Q. Heather, you had the great regional last year. How much did that help? In particular, coming out and striking out the side in the first, how much of a lift did you get from that?
HEATHER STEARNS: Definitely you know the regionals last year helped me, just being in this environment.
You know, there is nothing like it. You have to have that experience, and regionals last year helped me with that. Also, getting a little bit in the Florida game helped those nerves go down a little bit.
Q. Glenn, what do you text her? “You're starting tomorrow”? Or is there more to it, and Heather, what was your reply?
COACH MOORE: We put a lot of thought into this. Our sport sometimes lends you to go with your ace until her arm falls off, literally. But we knew we had a long road ahead of us, so we were going to have to use her at some point in time. I shouldn't say “have to.” Heather is an outstanding pitcher. Anybody that followed Baylor softball saw what she did as a freshman last year and this year as well, dealing with aggravating injury issues early; nothing big, but something that kept her from being the pitcher she could be early on.
But to answer your question, just basically said, “Hey, been some great sophomore pitchers throw this weekend, it's time to let one shine for Baylor,” and she responded she's ready. That simple. You would like to do that facetoface, but when you're here at the World Series and they are pulling you about 15 different directions, sometimes you don’t meet with your team as often as you like. They respond well to text messages, these days. (Laughter.)
Q. Glenn, following up on that, you talked the other day about you don't feel like the days of one pitcher going through this tournament are necessarily over, but now that Heather has given you some innings, how well does that set you up, maybe that you have a second game today and going forward?
COACH MOORE: I said that because when you get in the losers’ bracket it is difficult. So I think people are still going to recruit and try to develop that power pitcher, that number one and ride her as long as you can until she starts fatiguing. That doesn't mean the need for a bullpen is not there. Obviously you're going to have bad games and you're going to need it.
Heather knows how much confidence we have in her. She's No. 2 to an AllAmerican that's written every record at Baylor. Maybe the percentage is small, but it gives you a little bit of an advantage to go with Whitney most of the time. She has a completely different look. It's a nice weapon to have. I have total confidence in her. We've used her throughout her career so far many times. Last year she went to College Station and most people didn't know it — she broke her hand the day before. And beats Arizona two days after she breaks her hand. She has something internally that's pretty valuable as well.
Q. Jordan, good day at the plate today. After the lack luster performance teamwise at the plate (Thursday), what was your approach going into the day and how does it feel to hit two home runs in the college World Series?
JORDAN STRICKLAND: We had a completely different approach today. It was one-and-done and we weren't ready to be done yet, and we came in with intensity today and were working to put it all together. For me, when I stepped up to the plate in the 7 hole it was easy because not easy, but it was a lot more relaxed. Because the hitters in front of me had been doing their jobs and were on base, and I saw they were hitting her hard. It was a selfesteem booster for me to see that my teammates were all rallying together and putting something together. That was nice, because we didn't see that (Thursday).
Q. Lindsey, can you talk about getting things started? You went 3 for 3 for the day, had a couple of stolen bases, scored ahead of her a couple times. Talk about the way the offense got going.
LINSEY HAYS: Like Jordan said, we came with a whole new approach today. We were much more intense, ready and aggressive. That was not us two days ago against Florida and I think that's evident now. We studied Waldrop and we knew what she was going to throw us and we were well prepared to go in there. Clare was phenomenal today starting us off two innings, just getting on base and rolling. When leadoff gets on, it's easy to roll.
Q. Coach, I know sometimes you don't want to talk too much about the opposing pitcher in case you see 'em again, but now that Florida State has been eliminated, and the hitters, if anything you can throw in, your approach with Waldrop — did it help seeing her live the other day and what was your game plan against her?
COACH MOORE: I have to credit Oregon. I thought they had a great approach versus Waldrop; staying patient and making her come over the plate a little more. She is a phenomenal pitcher. She changes speed, has good movement and gets a lot of mishits, if you will. She got some from us as well. That was kind of our approach. You always want to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive.
JORDAN STRICKLAND: Like he said, part of our approach is to be patient. We knew she wanted us to chase a little bit, so today it was a matter of being patient. She throws a lot of offspeed stuff which is beneficial for her, so a lot of us today went to the slash and worked the counts well and made her bring a pitch that we could drive. I thought we did a great job as an offense doing that.
LINSEY HAYS: I thought we did a great job. She is not National Player of the Year for no reason. She kept us guessing we stayed aggressive at the plate and we were patient and hit our pitches. I think that really made the difference.
Q. Coach, I know it's a little too soon, but looking forward to Kentucky later tonight. Give us a preview and who will be starting on the mound?
COACH MOORE: Well, Whitney will be starting on the mound — in the circle. It's not baseball. (Laughter.) I make that same mistake. We haven't looked a lot we watched 'em play last night. We're going to watch film as soon as we get away from here, eat a little bit. We have a quick turnaround; I think we play in four hours. They're a good team. They play with a lot of adrenaline and excitement. They made a game last night and thought they had a chance.
They're going to be tough. We haven't looked a lot at them, because we had to win this one. But we're going to zero in on them right now.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: With us from Florida State are Head Coach Lonni Alameda, Lacey Waldrop and Briana Hamilton. We will begin with a statement from Coach Alameda.
COACH ALAMEDA: What an outstanding venture for our program. Hats off to Baylor, they came back. We all came with our backs against the wall and they got some timely hitting and took advantage of some things. But we rallied up the troops and talked about a game plan. It was important for us to come out and fight for each pitch and this senior class has been outstanding in guiding us to be relentless in the pursuit of being here. We have enjoyed this and we have enjoyed the support. Our alumni are so proud of us, our support staff and our administration. This is awesome and everything we're learning right now as a program is going to get us back here.
I couldn't be more proud of the two people to my right and the whole team and the fighting effort we had today.
Q. Coach, were you surprised at all to see Heather out there pitching instead of Whit?
COACH ALAMEDA: Yeah, for sure. But, again, like I was talking to Holly about it — it makes sense. I think Heather Stearns has a little bit of gogo juice in her arm and Whitney was a little tired facing UF, so that's the strategic plan. We knew she would up/down. She was throwing pretty hard for a couple innings there. We were just trying to foul stuff off to be able to get some pitches, and by the middle of the game we had chances. We had runners on and we had chances and we had the hitters at the plate that we wanted there. That's this time of year. It's me versus you, and to bring Whitney in to close out a couple of innings, you know, they’ve got two games today too. So it was a little bit of a surprise but understandable.
Q. Coach and Briana, a lot of people look and see 72 and I see 8 left on base. How frustrating is it to get in position and not be able to capitalize better?
COACH ALAMEDA: I think you have to throw frustration out the door right now. You're at the World Series, and it's all about one pitch and I think they made some good plays. Courtney's ball was down the line — a little left, a little right, you know, that's a different ballgame. We made some great defensive plays so you can't let frustration leak in. You've got to battle and keep going and keep an anything-can-happen mentality. I know that Bri was talking that in the dugout the whole entire time and you've got to have that shortterm mentality and get after your opportunities.
BRIANA HAMILTON: Same thing. It's an opportunity for our program. We haven't been here in 10 years, and for us to take it in was mindblowing for me as a senior. This is where I wanted to be, this is where I wanted to end my career. I wanted to be in that situation. I wanted to be that kid, whether I'm going to strike out or whether I'm going to get a hit. I remember sitting at home in my bed and I'm like, “This is it, this girl is up to bat. It's a 32 count. Is she going to strike out? Is she going to hit a grand slam?” I always dreamed of being that kid and today my dreams came true.
Q. I know it just ended but these six seniors, what did they mean for this season and the incredible run that you guys had?
COACH ALAMEDA: Yeah, we were talking about that in the golf cart. We have tears in our eyes here. They have a lot of heart. We go back a long time. We grew up as a family together. I'm going to get tearyeyed.
BRIANA HAMILTON: There were a lot of ups and downs, but Coach Alameda has definitely made me and the team grow up. We've turned from young ladies into women. I used to take her for granted all the time, and take her decisions for granted. Why is she doing this and doing that? And you don't understand it until you get old enough to understand it. She is just on and off the field she is probably one of the best coaches I have had in my entire life.
COACH ALAMEDA: Thank you.
Q. Bri, on top of that what has this program meant to you? Five years you've been here and you ended up at the college World Series, what does it mean to you?
BRIANA HAMILTON: Each year we've gotten better and better and we've been the comeback kids. Nobody ever expected us to be here. We're from the ACC and that never happens. We finally got here and in the future I think we have opened up the door for at lot of things to happen. Lacey and Jessica Burroughs are going to come back and be a onetwo punch, and the Noles aren’t going to stop here. This is a stepping stone and next year we're not just going to be here. We're going to compete here.
Q. Lacey, last year after Texas you guys had one goal and you got here. Do you expect the same coming into next year?
LACEY WALDROP: Absolutely. When you leave something like this and you have your last game and you see your seniors play their last game, you have something to fight for. They worked very hard to get us to this point and next year we're going to work even harder to have our goal of winning it all, instead of just getting here. We're going to get here and compete and we're going to show that their hard work paid off to get the team to the next step.
Q. After you hit that ball to put you guys were within three, what was the dugout like then? Did you guys start to feel like maybe we can do this?
COACH ALAMEDA: For sure, and I think it was the whole game, though. It started getting off the bus today. Our fight mentality was going to be each pitch, each pitch, and obviously Heather Stearns was coming in with a fresh arm and throwing a lot of hard pitches. We had to make adjustments, but we knew when we got to the second round we would make adjustments and do some things. It gave us a lot of momentum going into it and Jessica Burroughs hasn't gotten many opportunities this year to be in those tight situations. She has grown up so much. She's an outstanding kid. So if she misses one spot, you would think it would put you back into “oh no” mode, but it didn't. They kept fighting and there we were again with a chance to do something. Again that goes back to the character of the program and things that our younger kids are learning. When our juniors, now seniors, come back, they have that under their belt.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys.
In the seventh game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series, No. 13 seed Baylor defeated No. 8 seed Florida State by a score of 7-2. Baylor moved to 48-15 on the year while Florida State finished its season at 55-9.
Baylor advances to face No. 14 seed Kentucky tonight at 6 CT.
The win was the first in the WCWS for Baylor since defeating Missouri 1-0 in 13 innings on June 4, 2011.
Making its third all-time WCWS appearance (2007, ’11, ’14), Baylor is now 4-5 overall in the event. Florida State fell to 6-16 all-time in its eighth WCWS appearance (1987, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, 2002, ’04, ’14).
Baylor plated three runs in the top of the second inning to start the scoring. A groundout by sophomore Sarah Smith to shortstop scored senior Clare Hosack from third for the first run. In the ensuing at bat with sophomore Linsey Hays on second, junior Jordan Strickland hit a home run to left-center field.
Strickland also hit a two-run homer in the top of the sixth inning, giving Baylor a 7-2 lead. The home runs gave the junior a team-high 14 on the year. Strickland finished 2 for 3 with three runs and four RBIs.
The two home runs give Strickland the third multi-home run game of her career. She also hit two in back-to-back games at Oklahoma State on April 18 and 19 this season. The junior became the 12th player in WCWS history to hit two home runs in the same game, and the first since Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain did so against Alabama on June 6, 2012.
Baylor tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth inning. Strickland reached on a fielding error by the FSU third baseman, then advanced to second while Hays scored from second base. In the ensuing at bat, sophomore Robin Landrith singled to right field to score Strickland and bring the score to 5-0.
With the bases loaded and two out, Florida State senior Briana Hamilton belted a two-run single through the left side to score Alex Kossoff and Maddie O’Brien and cut the score to 5-2.
Baylor starting pitcher Heather Stearns improved to 14-4 on the season with the win. The sophomore pitched 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out seven.
Baylor senior pitcher Whitney Canion entered in relief with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Canion earned her second save of the season, giving up one one hit and one walk while registering one strikeout in 2.1 innings.
Stearns retired the first eight Seminole batters of the game before Kossoff reached safely on a bunt single with two outs in the bottom of the third inning. The hit was Florida State’s first in 32 batters dating back to a first-inning single by O’Brien on Thursday against Oregon.
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