WCWS Game 8 Quotes and Notes: Oklahoma 3, La. Lafayette 1
THE MODERATOR: From Oklahoma we have Head Coach Patty Gasso, Kelsey Stevens, Lauren Chamberlain, Brittany Williams and Callie Parsons. We will begin with an opening statement from Coach Gasso.
COACH GASSO: That was a fight. That was an absolute battle from start to finish. We respect Lafayette's ability to swing and pitch. They're tremendous athletes. And I am so extremely proud of Kelsey Stevens and the fight she put in today to hold them to six hits. But more than anything, they left 11 runners on base. That means this one is finding ways to get out of innings. She had timely strikeouts. They had opportunities numerous times and I'm just really, really proud of the way Kelsey found a way to get out of it and the way the defense played behind her.
I love the way we came out and scored two early in the game and Brittany Williams stepped up. We had opportunities throughout the game. We just didn't finish those innings. We needed to be better in that area. Callie (Parsons) — heads up, moving around the bases the way she does late in the game. I think that helped to bring more momentum and security as we were getting to the end of the game.
What a hardfought battle and we respect the abilities of Lafayette and the way they swing the bat. Especially I'm not surprised by Lexie Elkins and thankful nobody was on when she (homered) because you figure she is going to hit the ball hard somewhere, sometime. I'm proud of the fight that this team had to stay alive and continue on. We're going to work as hard as we can to stay alive in this tournament.
Q. Patty and Lauren and Brittany can jump in on this — I know you expect to get more offense and put more hits together but you took advantage of opportunities you got, didn't you feel that, Coach?
COACH GASSO: I think Christina Hamilton has done a phenomenal job and we give her credit. She makes us better, just like Jackie Traina makes us a better hitting team; because we have to go to work and figure things out.
I give her credit. At the same time, I thought we were battling with two strikes, but I thought we looked at too many strikes. We needed to be more aggressive earlier in the count and we felt that against Alabama as well. And that change will be made as we go into our next game. A lot of this credit goes to their pitcher.
LAUREN CHAMBERLAIN: Hamilton did a great job of keeping us off balance a lot. I think we hit some balls hard. They were just making some plays. “Big ups” to Kelsey keeping us in the game. That was a huge moment for us at the end with Callie's ball that she hit. I think everything just kind of fell into place at the end.
BRITTANY WILLIAMS: Agreeing with Coach and Lauren — Hamilton did a great job. We need to be aggressive more as an offense. Our defense kept us in that game, so we need to step up our offense.
Q. Kelsey, seemed like you were under the gun all night. How were you able to stay poised and get out of those jams you were in?
KELSEY STEVENS: I just need to stay calm and keep my composure. I almost feel more comfortable under pressure situations, it seems like. I just really trust my defense and I knew that we needed to keep the score down to keep in the game.
Q. Kelsey, obviously a different performance than what you had in March. Did you review anything from then or change an approach? Was it just a nice job today working out of trouble?
KELSEY STEVENS: We definitely changed some things up, looked at video and realized some things. So you saw me go to the arm band today and I think that helped. Overall, they're still a good hitting team. I just had to work really hard to do it.
Q. Callie, talk about your insidethepark home run. You always seem to come up with big plays in big games and you did that today. It was in front of you the whole time so you could see what was happening, right?
CALLIE PARSONS: Right. Well, this is a game of momentum and with Erin Miller in front of me, she didn't get that timeout (granted). That takes the momentum away. So going atbat with the two outs I knew I had to do something to help us gain back that momentum going into the seventh. So I was trying to take my hacks and as soon as I saw she dropped the ball I took off running. I saw her running back to get it and I looked at Coach and she was telling me to go all the way.
Q. Coach, if you could talk about Erin's timeout situation, and then this afternoon you get just a couple hours to rest and regroup for Oregon. Can you tell us about your approach to the Ducks?
COACH GASSO: First, the timeout. The umpire made an announcement to Erin, do not step out of the box, because the pitcher had gotten into, like, a set position. And in the environment and the adrenaline, I don't know that Erin heard her. I think she was expecting that she was going to get it. So we discussed that, and there is not a lot we can do except learn from it.
In regards to preparing for Oregon, what we need to do is get in some ice baths right now and start all over. I think this team is going to be firing on all cylinders again tonight. Our goal and mission is to be standing on this field Sunday. That's all we care about. How it's going to get done, we don't know. But we're going to give everything we have to be standing on this field on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: Here from Louisiana- Lafayette we have Head Coach Michael Lotief, Christina Hamilton, Natalie Fernandez and Lexie Elkins. We will begin with an opening statement.
COACH LOTIEF: I spoke with our NCAA reps. What an awesome event. The improvements and the changes and the energy surrounding our sport now is really phenomenal.
It's better than it's ever been, and it's because we’ve got people on the frontline every day fighting for this sport, fighting for opportunities for female athletes, fighting for equity, and it's getting better. Are we there yet? No, but we're making progress.
This was really it was a phenomenal experience. Every little girl ought to have a chance to experience this. I'm proud of my kids. I'm so proud of my kids. I'm proud of, first of all, who they are. And in y'all's world it's about what they do or whether they win or not, but in my world and my life it's about who they are and how they do it.
These kids are winners. They're winners in how they go about their business daybyday, they're winners at how they care and love each other and fight for each other. They're winners in how they take care of their business in the classroom. They're winners in their values and how they, too, want to make a difference and impact this world.
We didn't play our best softball the last couple of times. Sure that's something to do with the venue, sure that's something to do with the opponents, sure that's something to do with a crazy coach. But our kids made us proud, and it's been a magical, phenomenal year. I'm proud of our fan base, proud of Lafayette, Louisiana. The Cajun people stood behind these people and believed in them and loved them and supported them and cared for them.
It's always tough when your season ends, because our dream is to hold that trophy. But when we look back and we gain some perspective on how we've learned and grown throughout this season, and because of this season, we're going to be proud.
Q. Christina, you had a great effort out there, but you just tell me about that insidethepark home run that was the one that straw that broke the camel's back for you all. Talk about how that one got away.
CHRISTINA HAMILTON: I felt like she put the bat on the ball and got a good shot and got lucky, honestly. She got around all the bases.
Q. Obviously not the weekend you guys wanted. Was it the way teams were attacking you guys at the plate or was it y'all's approach? This is an outlier of what you had done all year, so I'm curious what do you think the root cause might have been?
LEXIE ELKINS: I don't think it was the way they were going at us. We trusted our preparation and trusted what we learned. Just like with Kentucky, it wasn't our game. Things weren't going our way mentally or physically. We weren't altered by anything; it just wasn't our game.
Q. Natalie, just going back and reflecting, it hasn't been much time, but looking back at your career and how it's come together here, how do you reflect on this season and what it's done for the program considering what people thought would happen this year?
NATALIE FERNANDEZ: I mean, I've said it all along this team is special. We got together in the beginning and we decided to take a risk that all 27 of us were going to go “all in” every pitch. We were going to compete and not only compete, but compete for each other and fight for each other, and we did that. I think what makes this season and this team so special is we stayed together as a team. You know, we have a very strong bond as a sisterhood, and looking back that's what makes it so special.
Q. Christina, in the fifth and sixth innings you were noticeably on the field trying to cheer on the offense and things. Talk about what you were telling the batters at the time and with the offense struggling, it's not normal for you. Was there frustrations setting in for you in the circle?
COACH LOTIEF: She was talking to the hitters? Maybe that was the problem. (Laughter).
CHRISTINA HAMILTON: I don't really feel like there was any frustration. I mean, I trust my hitters and the defense and I trust that we're going to get the job done. So I was just talking to them, goofing around like I always do, telling them Coach Mike is crazy and just hit the ball.
Q. Coach, the team struggled with runners on base. Tell me first off, what happened? There was a strategy that didn't work for you guys and also talk about the change with bases loaded and one out, seemed like that was your best opportunity to get a run and you couldn't.
COACH LOTIEF: You watched us all year long, right? You have watched this team all year long. And we played a threegame series against Oklahoma. It was against the same pitcher, the same moments, the same time. You're talking about fourtenths of a second. You're talking about some of those balls missed by a quarter of an inch.
I mean, it's not fair the skill of the sport and the execution of the sport. It's not fair to expect these kids on the biggest stage in the biggest moment want to do their best. There is no question about it. Our game is not geared for calling a timeout and running the ball off tackle and you’re stronger than them and you run over them. Or you call a timeout and you play into the post guy because he’s got a mismatch. That’s not how it works. A quater of an inch, fraction of a second.
We never got in our rhythm, but we weren't miserably off. It was a quarter of an inch here and a fraction of a second here. Our kids competed. You have some good teams here and more times than not you're playing a tough sport. I'm proud of my kids and we're not going to go back and I'm going to let y'all do that and figure out what happened and put labels on, whatever, and who did this or that. I know what I saw and how hard they worked and how hard that they prepared and how good this team is and how hard they fight. That's the story to me, what that kid (Fernandez) just said about this team. If you didn't watch them in the fall, some of y'all never watched them in the fall. We looked like the “Bad News Bears.” We couldn't throw and catch, couldn't hit the ball; and for them to end up where they have ended up has taken an incredible amount of hard work and sacrifice.
These kids have passion and love of each other and love of the sport and they played hard. There is nothing wrong with saying you came up short. Like she said, we got here, we decided to take a risk and we came up short.
Q. Obviously getting here, you have a good group of players that are returning. Talk about the core group that is going to be leaving and talk about the group that you have returning as well.
COACH LOTIEF: And that's the next fallacy that goes out there. Last year at this point, who was sitting here? The Washington Huskies were sitting here and they had no upperclassmen on their team. Everybody said because they're here they're going to come back over and over and over. That's an assumption; because you have a young team that you're going to come back here and do it over and over. Wrong. Bad assumption.
These kids are there are going to be people leaving, some coming in and that group of kids is going to have to figure out how they form relationships together and is going have to get some breaks, develop relationships. They're going to have to get back to the base of the mountain and do some work. You don't get here just because you were here the year before.
In fact, in most sports it's harder to come back and it's harder to repeat. That's a tough journey because of the emotional energy that these kids expend.
Next year we're going to go fishing for a couple of weeks before we recommit to that journey and start coordinating them again.
Q. This is for Lexie and Christina. It seemed like after the first couple runs they put on the board you settled down, did a nice job navigating around trouble. What was different in what you all did today and making them have to adjust and stay off kilter a little bit until the 7th inning?
CHRISTINA HAMILTON: What was different from what?
Q. From playing Kentucky.
CHRISTINA HAMILTON: Oh. I think we came out more aggressive this game and attacking spots a little bit better. Just a little bit, not really a whole lot. We were definitely more aggressive toward batters. Coach Mike came and talked to me in the middle of the inning and was like, “Look, you don't have to be perfect. We ain't been perfect all year. Calm down and play free.” And after that it was easier to settle down and chillax.
Q. Congratulations, ladies. I wanted to get you to weigh in on the ride that was this year and give us a feel for if you enjoyed it.
NATALIE FERNANDEZ: I mean, yeah, we enjoyed it. I'm going to go back to the sisterhood talk. That's what this journey taught me the most about; sticking with your sisters through the good and the bad. We have gone through adversity that some outsiders didn't know about, but we got through it together.
I don't know. That's what I'm going to take from this experience is the chemistry that this team has. And not just this team, but all of my seasons in the past. But this season has been so special, and I'm going to keep saying that.
LEXIE ELKINS: I think how mentally tough we are and the adversity that we faced. At the beginning, everyone was there with open arms and was willing to help me. I think it rubbed off on everybody. Everybody was there for each other, and we all had faith in each other the entire year.
CHRISTINA HAMILTON: It was an exciting and eventful year, I think. When you get a group of girls together like this who bond and fight for each other, truly fight for each other and go through the struggles that we have been through and overcome it and get stronger as a group, it's an exciting journey to be on. I'm so glad, so glad I got to go on this journey with this group of girls because I wouldn't want to be on it with anybody else. I don't know what else to say. You're going to miss the seniors who are here influencing us, but hopefully, you know, the girls who are here learned from them and can influence the girls next year. But this year it was just amazing. It was special.
Q. Lexie and Christina, what can you take away from the past couple of days, whether it's how you prepare or just the stuff around the games here. What do you take away that you feel will linger on through the off season and give you guys something to build on when you have to try and come back and make this all work again next fall?
LEXIE ELKINS: Coach was talking about how last year it stung but he got over it. This year is going to sting. It is going to sting this year so thinking about it is going to be hard, But eventually we're going to come to a point where we're going to sit there and think about it, but not in a negative manner. We're going to take the struggles that we went through. We went and put ourselves up on a stage, and we were shown what we needed to work on. We're going to take it and learn from it and grow. And next year we're going to use this to get better, you know?
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everybody.
In the eighth game of the 2014 Women’s College World Series, No. 7 seed Oklahoma defeated No. 6 seed Louisiana-Lafayette by a score of 2-0. Oklahoma improved to 51-12 on the year while ULL finished its season at 49-10-1.
Oklahoma advanced to face No. 1 seed Oregon in an elimination game tonight at 8:30 CT.
Making its ninth all-time WCWS appearance (2000, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14), Oklahoma is now 17-13 overall in the event. Louisiana-Lafayette fell to to 6-12 all-time in its sixth WCWS appearance (1993, ’95, ’96, 2003, ’08, ’14).
Oklahoma is now 2-6 all-time in WCWS elimination games.
Oklahoma took a 2-0 first-inning lead on a double by senior Brittany Williams that scored junior Shelby Pendley and junior Lauren Chamberlain. The double was Williams’ seventh of the year and upped her season RBI total to 55 (second to Pendley’s 75).
Oklahoma junior Callie Parsons hit a two-out inside-the-park solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The homer was the first of her career (193 at bats).
Parsons’ inside-the-park home run was the second in WCWS history. The other was by UCLA’s Andrea Duran in the third inning of a 2-0 win vs. Texas on June 3, 2006.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Stevens threw a complete game to earn the win for Oklahoma. She surrendered one run on six hits and three walks while striking out seven to improve to 38-9 on the year. ULL stranded 11 runners to OU’s five.
Stevens now owns the outright OU record for single-season wins. Keilani Ricketts (2012), Lauren Eckermann (2007) and Jennifer Stewart (2001) all held the previous record of 37 victories.
Louisiana-Lafayette sophomore Lexie Elkins registered her sixth hit and sixth home run of the postseason in the top of the seventh inning with a blast to right field. All six of her postseason homers have been solo shots. Elkins’ 24 home runs this season rank as the second most in school history.
Chamberlain’s run was the 200th of her career, moving her into fifth place in Big 12 history.
Oklahoma senior Destinee Martinez moved into third place in Big 12 history with 795 career at bats.
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