Coaches, Players Share Their Thoughts About the WCWS

Arizona State College Softball Head Coach Clint Myers

Coaches, Players Share Their Thoughts About the WCWS

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Wednesday, a day before the competition starts in the NCAA Women’s College World Series, here’s what some of the coaches and players had to say during a press conference about the event, which has been held in Oklahoma City since 1990 and has become the Mecca of college softball.

The coaches included Pat Murphy, Alabama; Michael White, Oregon; Ralph Weekly, Tennessee, and Clint Myers, Arizona State.



Opening comment:
“I just want to say thank you to everyone: the Oklahoma City All Sports Association, the NCAA Division I Softball Committee and the ASA for putting on another outstanding event.  This is something that we look forward to since we came the first year in 2000 and it just keeps getting bigger and better. Another big thank you to you, the media, because you make the sport relevant. If you’re not here, our sport isn’t on the front page or on the news. So, we at Alabama appreciate you very much.”

On the parity of the sport:
“That’s the hardest part, is getting here. You look at a Hofstra from the northeast that goes to UCLA and is basically one pitch away from its first College World Series and South Florida does it against them.  I think the parity this year was unbelievable. I mean, the first weekend out, the scores were unbelievable.  Sorry, Clint (Myers of Arizona State), but McNeese State beat Arizona State. You never hear that. I think it’s really good for the sport, though.  The toughest part is just to get here.  I know we had a tough road and I’m sure everybody up here did.”

On the SEC looking for its first softball national title and on the pressure of winning one at a school that has produced other recent national championships:
“I think when one (SEC) team does it, it’s going to make it that much easier for the next team. The toughest one is the very first one. (Tennessee’s) Monica (Abbott) got there, Florida got there twice. When the first team wins it, it’s going to make it that much easier for the next one and the next one.  But the first one’s the toughest. Our hallway at Alabama has Sarah Patterson (women’s gymnastics) at one end, who has won six national championships. My door next to me is Mic Potter, the women’s golf coach who just won a national championship last week. Two doors down from him is Jay Seawell, who is leading the men’s golf national championship, and then Anthony Grant is three doors down with men’s basketball. It’s a tough hallway to be in, for sure.”



On Alabama’s rivalry with Tennessee this season:
“It was a great two games. We can’t contest that both teams had a lot of fun. Tennessee is a great team and it’s always fun to play a great team like them. Playing them tomorrow will be fun; we’ll see how it goes.”



Opening comment:
“I’d like to piggyback on what Pat (Murphy) said. Again, I’d like to thank the people of Oklahoma because they’re so gracious and supportive with anything that we need. The storm last night – there were people in the hotel contacting us and moving people around. This is an experience that these young athletes get to have that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Again, it’s because of the people of Oklahoma and the people of Oklahoma City. I’d like to thank all of them.”

On the parity of the sport:
“The parity across the country, the rivalries between the conferences; the toughest part is getting here.  The (NCAA) regionals are getting a lot more quality teams. The super regionals speak for themselves. I mean, look at who you had in the super regionals. Then the eight teams that were fortunate to get here.  It’s going to be a great show, great competition. All of us are excited to be here.”



On her memories from watching the Women’s College World Series:
“I don’t remember really watching a lot. The older I got, the more aware of it I was.  I just enjoyed playing the game; I never really grew up admiring anyone individually. I just admired the entire package of it.  I remember watching Michigan hit that walk-off home run (in 2005). I remember, obviously, watching ASU win it in 2008 when I was coming in as a freshman. Those are probably the two memories I have watching it.”

On her first trip to the WCWS in 2009:
“It’s just really overwhelming, in a good way. I’ve played here a bunch with club ball so I was aware of what the field was like, how big it was, this and that. I’ve played here a bunch of times before, but never at the Women’s College World Series, obviously, so I just remember being really overwhelmed and it was really exciting. Something I’ll never forget.”

On her improvements at the plate:
“I think I’ve grown immensely. Coach’s son, Casey Myers, has really worked with me a lot.  I’ve gone through multiple batting stances and have learned the mental side of it. Just trying different physical things, but I’ve learned that it’s the mental side of hitting that you need to conquer. Not that I’ve conquered it, but I have grown leaps and bounds with it. I give all the credit to God for putting Casey in my life and Coach in my life and just helping mold me into what I’ve become and that natural talent to just pick up things. I still have a lot to learn, and I try to get better every day with it.”


(White replaced Kathy Arendsen as the head coach)

Opening comment:
“I know it has been 23 years since the Ducks have been to the College World Series. Cheers to every single player on our team that has dreamt about being in this situation. We are super excited to be here. It’s definitely what we call ‘the show.’ It’s first class. It’s put on by ASA, NCAA. We can’t thank them enough. And again, I reiterate about ESPN. That’s what drives this sport and is getting the sport bigger and bigger, year by year.”

On what his first steps were coming to Oregon to coach:
“Coming off a 16-34 season, the first thing was to change the attitude and change their belief system. I think that they just needed something fresh. That was our biggest battle, changing the belief that we could win. How do you change a team that hadn’t won a series, three games in the Pac 12? It was a slow process. Gradually they started to buy in. Toward the end of the season we went out there and had nothing to lose. We played Georgia Tech. We played extremely well. Then we went to Missouri and we kind of froze a little bit. I think the stage sort of got to us. The same thing happened last year at Florida. Now with our first wins against Texas, I think we’ve started the belief system that we belong in this show. We are capable of beating the top teams.”

On if there were points where he believed things really started clicking and his team turned a corner:
“It’s difficult because we really have areas where we look really good and areas where we are not so good. It’s an evolving process. It’s not going to happen overnight.  Very rarely do these things happen straight away. You’ve got to build these sorts of things. I think we are starting to build that. I think we have a great team this year. We are here to play this year. We have a better team coming next year. That’s going to be the trick – to continue to repeat this process. Keep it fresh and keep the drive to continue to have a top-eight team.”



Opening comment:
“I would just like to re-echo our thanks for everybody that puts on this show – all the media and ESPN. We are very humbled and very honored to be here with eight great teams; eight great staffs and the best players in America.”

On his feelings toward Alabama coach Patrick Murphy and the other coaches here:
“It’s just amazing. It was my Hall of Fame induction and Patrick (Murphy) was the president of the NFCA. Being the president, he got a suite. He graciously offered me his suite for my Hall of Fame party. It was pretty amazing for Alabama to do that for Tennessee. I told him we were going to decorate it in orange.

He said, ‘That’s OK, just take it down when the party’s over.’ I told him we would. I have respect for all of these coaches. I talked Mike White into coaching many years ago. He’s a great guy. He was playing on the men’s team. I told him he was too good of a coach not to be coaching. He said last night, ‘I appreciate you talking to me about it’. I have so much respect for him. He is such a great coach. Clint Myers and I went to school together. We graduated a year apart at Arizona State. Patrick Murphy is as great a gentleman as you’ll find in this game. I think there are a lot of good coaches here. I just feel like we have a really good relationship. Whatever happens tomorrow night, we will still have a good relationship. What this game needs right now, and somebody needs to say it, is more graciousness and more sportsmanship amongst coaches. Not some of the stuff that’s going on right now. It’s a game. You play the game. You fight hard when you are playing and afterward you shake hands and respect each other. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”



On the rivalry between Alabama and Tennessee:
“A lot of what Jackie (Traina) just said, but I know with me and our coaching staff and my teammates, we respect Alabama so much. They are one of the teams that we respect the most in the SEC. We always love playing them. We always have great games with them, so we are really excited.”

On how she feels about Alabama and how people back home (classmates) feel about playing Alabama:
“Like I said, we respect Alabama so much. All of their players are just class acts. We love playing them and their coaches are great. It’s going to be a tough game. We know that every time going in to Alabama. We are just really excited to compete. We all know any Alabama (team) – whatever sport you are playing – I don’t care what you are ranked or not ranked, it’s going to be a good game. Football, softball, basketball or whatever. My classmates back home, everyone back home, it’s a big rivalry and they all know it. Everyone we have seen all week has just been so geared up for it. They are excited.”


OKLAHOMA CITY- On Wednesday, a second press conference involving the coaches of California, Oklahoma, South Florida and LSU was held at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. The comments of the coaches and some of their players follow:



Opening comment:
“The University of California is very honored and privileged to be here. We would like to thank the NCAA and the city of Oklahoma City for hosting this. This is our 12th trip here. Every year it seems to get more exciting. They have done so much to the facility. It’s just a great opportunity for us to be able to play on this stage.”

On the fact that UCLA and Arizona are not here and if getting here is half the battle today:
“Parity is happening and it’s across the country. Any team in any part of the country can be here now. It makes this sport so much more exciting. I know even in our Pac-12 Conference this year anybody can beat anybody on any given day. You couldn’t take anybody lightly. You had to have your best pitching going that day, your best hitting, your best defense. It just really makes you have to be prepared for every game and be ready for it.”

On Valerie Arioto’s play this year and coming back from injury:
“She has had an outstanding year this year. She has led our team in every category. She’s been part of our important pitching staff. She has led our team in hitting, RBI’s, home runs; she has done it all. I know last year we thought ‘Why did this injury happen to her?’ But now we know why. It gives us the opportunity to have a much stronger team here at the World Series to represent our program. She has just done everything you could ask a player to do for your team. She has just done an outstanding job.”



On what she has seen of LSU’s pitchers and what she is expecting of them:
“I think LSU, all-around, is a great team. We got to play them before. Their pitching staff kept us off balance. They did a great job. I think our team is prepared, seeing them before. I think both teams are just going to go out there and play hard, so it should be a good series.”

On how hard it was to sit out last year with her injury:
“At the start of last year I was a little bummed, obviously. It was a bad experience for me. Looking back, I couldn’t imagine doing anything different. I got the chance to see the game from a different perspective and learn from it; just watch the games. But it has been a great year.”



Opening comment:
“We are very excited to be here, too. Congratulations to the other seven teams that are a part of this field. I think the teams that we came through to get to this point had great years, too. There are a lot of quality teams that are in the NCAA. We are excited to be back here. This is LSU’s first trip since 2004 and we are thrilled to be a part of the field.”

On what they did after the SEC tournament to turn things around and have a better postseason:
“I think for the first time our team really understands who they are as an offense. I think we struggled for a lot of the season trying to be something that we aren’t. We don’t have power numbers. It’s obvious on paper. I think we are capable of scoring runs. We finally understand who we are. We are able to do that by being more productive; having more productive at bats, manufacturing and not trying to look for the one swing or the one big hit.”



On what they did after the SEC tournament to turn things around and have a better postseason:
“Basically after the SEC tournament the coaches just talked to us and they said, ‘You know, from here on out everybody is even. It doesn’t matter what you did, it matters what you do from here on out. Everybody is going into the postseason 0-0.’ At practice we really focused on being selfless; moving the runners, not trying to do too much for yourself, but to do something for somebody else. I think we were obviously very successful at that we were able to move the runners and score the few runs we needed to score with such an amazing pitching staff that we have.”   

On how they feel facing California again:
“We have seen Jolene (Henderson) before, so we know we are confident. We know what she throws. We have been working hard on it. We were able to manufacture runs off her. Obviously, the game didn’t end the way we wanted it to the first time around. Lucky for us we get another chance. Another chance doesn’t happen very often. Just playing that first game and manufacturing those runs that we can is really going to count tomorrow.”



Opening comment:
“Just following up in excitement and congratulations to everybody that’s here. We feel spoiled to be a team that’s 25 miles away from Hall of Fame Stadium. We’re looking forward to having great fan support for all teams. We’re just really pleased to be here and love the way we’re playing right now.”

On the parity of the sport:
“I told the team today that the hard part has already happened, now it’s time to go out there and have fun with what you’re doing. The hard part is getting here. Going through Arizona, UCLA and all the teams we had to go through.  All the teams here had to go through a tough road and it makes us better. We absolutely respect those teams, knowing what UCLA and Arizona have accomplished in the history of this field and here at the College World Series have been tremendous.  It’s an honor when you can go through a team like that to get here. I don’t want to see Arizona again in a super regional and I don’t think they want to see us again.  It’s part of the fight. It’s part of the battle. You have to go through someone extremely tough through the regional and super regional to be at the grand prize, and the eight teams here have found a way to do that.”

On OU’s WCWS team last year compared to this season:
“Experience is invaluable. I think that will really help us this time around. The mentality that we have, coming in and just being excited to be here or excited to actually try to win it all. I’m trusting every team here is excited to win it all, not just to be here. The Sooners, last year, were still living on adrenaline from Tucson. We came here in the World Series and we weren’t quite put together to handle that. The experience helped us tremendously throughout this season and going into this next weekend.”



On OU’s team last year compared to this season:
“I think the difference is that last year, our biggest goal was to get to the World Series. We had a lot of struggles going into postseason. We didn’t have our main players playing in position. Everyone was out of position, we were just trying to get out on the field and play as hard as we could to get as far as we could get. This year, we’ve grown a lot. We’ve been having a great year and our team’s a lot deeper than last year. With the desire that we had last year and how deep we are this year with our lineup, I think that we are coming into the World Series stronger than we were.”



Opening comment:
“It’s an honor to represent your school in the national championship of your sport. I think this year, more than any other year, I’ve been coaching and coaching against the great coaches up here. It’s been a wide open field all year long.  It’s been a very exciting parity-type of season for NCAA Division I softball. I’m really looking forward to this week because I think you’re going to see some really good softball, from a really good number of teams. You’ve got a bunch of really great players that are not only national team players, but you’ve got some of the greatest college softball players in the history of one season of softball. It should be exciting.”

On OU’s Keilani Ricketts and Jessica Shults:
“They’re two people that you want to meet in your life. If my daughters grow up to be half the people that those two kids are, I’m pretty fortunate. We had some fun last year, growing together with the national team program. The big cat here (Keilani Ricketts), she can do a lot of good things. I equate Keilani to Babe Ruth. There aren’t many people that could be in the circle or be on the mound and throw the ball as well as Babe Ruth and Keilani did, and hit as well as they do also. But more than anything else, she’s probably one of the most humble people that I’ve ever met, and Jessica (Shults) is right along those type of lines.”

On facing two of his USA National Team players tomorrow:
“Tomorrow is going to be a competition, make no bones about it. Keilani might like me right now, but tomorrow she’s not going to like USF. But that’s right, and that’s the way it is. I wouldn’t expect anything different. She knows that, Coach Gasso knows that and our team knows that, too. When it’s all said and done, I guarantee you there will be shaking hands and hugs. We’re looking forward to the competition.”



On her relationship with her former teammates at LSU:
“I was trying to tell my teammates on USF earlier that when you’re at a program for four years, they became my sisters. You go through struggles, you play games, you condition, you do all that kind of stuff.  So, of course, you still love them. If we potentially go up against each other, they’re going be trying to compete and beat us and the same goes for USF. When it’s all said and done, I’m still going to be best friends with some of them and it is what it is. I’m so excited that they’re here and I am fortunate enough to be an alum of both schools.  I’m excited.”