April 6, 2012
As part of the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 NCAA Title, CalBears.com will be highlighting that historic year. The California softball team will celebrate that team on April 14 with a special event and alumnae weekend. For more information on that, please click here.
BERKELEY - After a recent home game, CalBears.com chatted with Kristen Morley, who was the starting right fielder for the California softball team in 2002. That year in Oklahoma City, Morley led the team in hits (4) and runs (3) to hit .333. In this Q&A, Morley relates how confident the 2002 team was that they were going to win the national championship.
CalBears.com: What comes to mind when you think about that year?
Kristen Morley: I remember the selection show. We all met at my house - I lived with Courtney Scott and Candace Harper on Fulton. We watched us get screwed again, because we got sent to Fresno with a bunch of other conference champions. I remember after we saw that, Jocelyn stood up and said, "Well guys, I guess we're going to have to win it all." From then, that was the only thought we had. There was no doubt. We didn't have any worry about losing. We just knew that it was going to happen. We knew we got screwed in our seeding and that we were going to prove to the world that we were going to win the national championship that year.
CalBears.com: No one scored until the seventh inning, when the Bears posted six runs with two outs. What were you thinking prior to that?
KM: I remember being completely calm. I don't remember ever having any worry. I knew that it would happen at some point. I couldn't believe that it was still 0-0 since it was two great teams. But I didn't have any doubt. Then I remember we started scoring runs with two outs in the seventh. Kaleo walked on a close pitch, and I remember Jennie Finch being very upset about it. Then I came up to bat and got a hit, then Harp got a hit up the middle that Kaleo came around and scored on. We moved everyone around, so there were runners on second and third with two outs, I remember thinking, "We're up 1-0. That's all we need, we're good to go." Then next thing I know, they walked Roni Nelson, then Jennie accidentally walked Courtney Scott, so I came around on a walk. I remember just stomping on the plate and being so proud, we just scored another run. We're good to go definitely now. Then the next thing you know, everything went crazy. It was just double after double after double. We were just clearing the bases. I remember standing in the dugout thinking, "I can't believe this is happening. We're going to do this." Then I remember Jennie Finch coming out of her last game without being able to get her very last out in college softball. Then I remember all of us pacing in the dugout thinking, we're about to win it. This is really about to happen. It's 6-0, and we're to win the national championship.
CalBears.com: With that lead in hand, what was that final bottom of the seventh like?
KM: We went out onto the field. We got two outs, and I remember standing out in right field just bawling. I was thinking, please don't hit it to me right now because I'm crying and I can't see a thing right now. Reality hit - this was it, we were actually going to win it. That everything we had worked for that season was coming to an end and that we were going to be number one and win that national championship that we always talked about that we never knew was possible. We were going to get it. Once we got that final out and everyone came in and we jumped on each other, it was such a relief. I remember feeling that this is what we earned. We earned it that season and every season before that. Because all those women that played before us, they got us to that point. Just being there and being able to have that win was amazing.
CalBears.com: What funny stories stick out in your mind?
KM: I remember when Mary Dempsey, our strength coach, made us run in Hawaii because Erin Manahan brought a pack of M&Ms into the dugout. I don't remember how far we had to run, I just remember being so mad that we had to run. Erin was a redshirt and didn't think it was a big deal. We didn't even know she couldn't do that. We had to run. We were so mad.
CalBears.com: What does it mean to you to be a Golden Bear and part of the Cal softball tradition?
KM: Pride. Everywhere I go, I say "Go Bears." I still don't own anything red. I bleed Blue and Hold. There's so much pride. It's the best university in the country. You can't get a better atmosphere, a better softball team, a better place to play softball. You don't get a better view than anywhere in the country. The pride that comes with being a Bear is unbelievable.