May 17, 2007
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - NCAA Softball Regional Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes
HEAD COACH Diane Ninemire:
"We're excited to be here at this regional. Alabama is a great institution to host a regional and we just look forward to playing some good softball this weekend."
On what their travel and schedule has been like this week:
"It's been very busy because we've been in the middle of finals. We just finished finals yesterday morning before we hopped on a plane here to Atlanta then down to Birmingham. So our week has been full of trying to squeeze in practice but mostly just trying to get our players as student athletes for the number one public institution in the country to get ready for their finals and finish. So we were able to accomplish that. We have all of our finals completed and now we have the weight of our school work off of our shoulders and so now we're looking forward to the fun part of playing softball."
"We've prepared our team for this all season long. If you look at our schedule, we travel the first seven weeks of the year every year, year in and year out. We are an institution that is not fortunate enough to host regionals because of our facilities, and so I've always planned in the past, as I am today, to get this team out and travel coast to coast and get used to traveling and bonding together so that we have prepared ourselves to be in a regional playing playing against the best competition in the country. So I think this team is very prepared for this moment."
"This is a very young team. In 2002 we won a national championship, and I think I had about 9-10 new players on that team and I don't think very many people gave them a chance to do much and I think they kind of shocked the world with 19 losses, probably the most losses of any team to win a national championship. This team already has, what 30 losses. But I purposely put this young team against the toughest competitive through the season. I really wanted to get them used to playing great teams. And I know we took some lumps along the way, but I also think it was character-building. And I think that's why we're here today because our young ladies learned a lot through the season, and it's not what you do at the beginning of the year; it's how you end your year. It's where your memories are made. And so I think they're all excited about making some memories going down the stretch here."
On pitching plans:
"We haven't decided that yet. We're still debating on that. But I believe that all of our pitchers will throw at some point in time during the course of this regional and I feel confident that any one of them can go out and do their best job and play some good defense and get some timely hits this weekend. It's what it's going to be about."
"They all throw a little different. They've got all the pitches and they're going to try to keep the batters off balance as best as they can. And then we're going to have to play tough defense, like I said. Our bats are going to have to be alive this weekend and I think we do have the potential of having a good offensive lineup when they're all working. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
On field in Tuscaloosa:
"This is a very good field. Alabama, being ranked one and two most of the year, Patrick (Murphy) comes in with probably one of the best teams he's had for a while. And Florida State has always been a contender. I'll be quite honest, I don't know a lot about Tennessee Tech, but I've heard great things about them. For us, our motto is that we fear no one but we respect everyone. I think everyone here, they've done a tremendous job to get their teams ready and be prepared. I don't care who you are in any regional. You better be ready to play anybody because everybody is going to come out with their best games tomorrow and throughout the entire weekend, so I think it's going to be a real exciting regional and one of the top regionals in the country."
On hectic schedule she and players have faced this week:
"You just have to take it one day at a time. I was one of the girls that had a final yesterday morning, so it was a lot of studying, a lot of practice. A lot of time management. You get used to it. I'm a senior, so I know the ropes now. I don't know about those freshmen."
On team snapping back:
"We just came together. We knew what had to be done. Playing with girls in the past and never really facing adversity as far as losing goes, it was different. We had to be patient. A lot of us veterans really had to take it a step at a time. I don't know, it's been fun. It's been a trip, that's for sure. I don't know. We've just been having fun."
"We're so ecstatic to be here. We were so worried and so nervous. 'Were we going to able to come?' 'Were we not?' Was the season over?' And I think right now we're just going to play and show everyone what we've got."
Head Coach Joanne Graf:
"We're real excited to be in Tuscaloosa. I know Alabama has hosted a lot of tournaments in the past, and they've got a great staff, a great coaching staff. So we know you guys are going to put on great tournament and we're real excited. If we didn't get to host, we were excited that we get to come here because I know everything will be run first class and really will provide a great experience for out student athletes. I think a good team will come out of this regional and hopefully a team out of this regional can advance to the World Series."
"It's a tough opening game. I think there are a few others I'd rather have in the national tournament than Cal-Berkeley. They've kind of had our number. We've played them in a lot of regionals and a lot of World Series and they've usually come out ahead. I think their record is very misleading. They play in a very tough conference, obviously, in the Pac 10. So they've played good teams. It's a situation now (where) I think every team here has to play perfect. All these teams are good and they all are going to take advantage if you don't play well. But Cal's going to be a great team and they're going to be a tough opponent."
On expanded ACC:
"I think our league is very comparable with a lot of leagues, and if you look at our RPI for our league, it's been very high. I want to say top three. So I think definitely the ACC has really put a lot of emphasis into building their program, building stadiums, adding scholarships. And really, I think the biggest thing they've done is improve their travel schedule. So those teams are playing teams nationally and getting some national exposure. The ACC, it took them a while I think to really begin to do that, but now I think it is one of the toughest conferences, and obviously we'd hoped to really kind of capitalize on the tournament last weekend when I did not feel like we played up to our potential, so hopefully we can play a little bit better this weekend."
On 2006 post-season and experiences learned/gained and how she's advising her younger teammates:
"Just from the experience I've had in the past as far as what I can I tell my team is that, kind of like what coach said, you have to capitalize on their mistakes and not make as many or any at all just to advance. So, (I'm) just telling that to the younger players who are here for the first time or the people who haven't made it, just let them know that. And just to know that this is tough. This is a tense game and it's going to be hard to play out there but just stay focused and give it you have is probably my goal."
On expanded ACC:
"ACC teams, they've made it to regionals, so I that itself proves that we're playing some pretty tough teams and we're getting ready for the teams that we're getting ready to face right now."
Head Coach Patrick Murphy:
"The weather is going to be great. I was hoping that it was going to be about 115 and 100 percent humidity, but we'll take this. It's going to be a great atmosphere. The field looks good. The field crew has been working hard. Game management has done a great job so far. Three very good teams. Cal, Florida State. First time in this facility for both of them. Florida State came I think maybe the first or second year of the program and we played at Sokol. But any time you can get a Pac 10 to come to Tuscaloosa, regardless of whether it's a regional or regular season, it's a good thing."
On what he's seen from his team as far as "being tested" in the past week-and-a-half:
"I think Mandy (Burford) and a couple of the other seniors have done a really good job of trying to get the focus back to the old Alabama team and just a better mindset all around. One of the best things about it is we're at home and we were really fortunate compared to some other schools that didn't get to host that were seeded, and I think, hopefully, we're going to use it to our advantage because it is an advantage."
On pitching picture:
"We're going to go over that again today with Vann (assistant coach Stuedeman) and Aly (assistant coach Habitz) and try to make a decision soon. I think both of them, Chrissy (Owens) pitched four innings in the SEC tournament, so she should be ready to go. And Blair (Potter), I think is the same way. She can pitch all day long and not get tired. And in this type of situation where it's double elimination and you could play quite a few games I think it's a team that is going to need some pitching depth to win it."
"She hit off a tee this morning, so that's good. Got some favorable reviews from (our doctors). Haven't tried defense yet so we're going to do that at practice and see how that goes with our trainer, Nick Seiler. Between him and (our medical staff) it'll be a decision---probably how she feels, too. Two hours later she could be in a lot of pain and we don't really want that right now."
On possibility of putting her at the DP position:
"Yes, if all she can do it hit, that's a good thing. She's hitting .470. She hasn't hit live. We don't want to cut her off now and not have her next week. It's a hard decision to make."
On how it could help the team with Dani Woods and Lauren Parker both back:
"Dani looked very good yesterday, so that was a good thing to see."
On how you make sure the team doesn't overlook a mid-major like Tennessee Tech:
"I told them yesterday the best team in the country is Tennessee Tech. And then whoever we play the next game is the best team in the country. You've got to have a lot of respect for them. They've already beaten Florida State. They've already beaten Nebraska. They've got some big non-conference wins. They played Tennessee tough. They played Georgia Tech tough. And then they won their league for I think the third straight year, and it's a higher level of softball in that league. They're almost like a Missouri Valley type league that a lot of people don't know about but they're playing good softball."
"I told the team Tuesday night at practice, their lead-off is Beth Boden. She's got this, she's got that and she's hit 24 homeruns. I'm not sure who it was but one of the players said, 'Wow.' So even to our team that was very impressive. As a group we know it's tough to hit (that many). I think Mandy as 10, so 24 is Barry Bonds-ish."
On appeal of this regional to fans, is it something he'd buy tickets to see:
"Would I? Oh yeah. You've got a great mix: ACC, SEC, Pac 10, Ohio Valley. You don't get that every day. We try to get it in our regular season tournaments but it doesn't work out that way. It's nice we have that mix. In terms of RPI, adding it together, we're the second toughest of the six team regionals."
On getting focus back:
"We tried to kind of get our mindset back to what it's been all year because as of late we weren't playing as well as we had hoped to, so we tried to focus on things we do great."
On how it could help the team if Dani Woods and Lauren Parker are both back this week:
"We've missed both of them being in the lineup. They've been every day starters all year. But it also gave some other people some good opportunity to get some solid playing time against really good opponents. I think it gave them some confidence for the postseason that they can get the job done as well."
On how players avoid overlooking a mid-major like Tennessee Tech:
"We know that Tennessee Tech is a great ball team. We've heard a lot about them and they've had a great season and they have a really good lineup. So we're not going to overlook anyone. We're going to take it one game at a time, and right now all our focus is on Tennessee Tech."
On playing at home:
"It feels great to be home. We have a great crowd and we tend to play well at home. It'll be nice to get back in front of our fans and get back in the swing."
HEAD COACH TORY ACHESON:
"We appreciate the opportunity to be in Tuscaloosa. It's a beautiful facility. I'm sure it's going to be a first-class event. We're real proud to be here."
On ranking this regional compared to others:
"I would say honestly this is certainly one of the strongest, if not the strongest regionals. It seems to be our curse or our blessing, depending upon how you look at it, the last several years we've had the good fortune of getting into the tournament. It seems like wherever we go ends up being a very strong region. It's also nice for us because we get a chance to play some teams that we don't play all the time, so it's a little bit of a treat for the kids to get to square off against some teams that we don't play on a regular basis."
"The little bit of research that we've been able to do about them, obviously they are one of the strongest teams in the country and we know we're in for a real challenge, but we're going to go out there and give it our best shot and hopefully play the game the way we are capable of playing and see what happens."
On overall toughness of its regular season schedule:
"One of the things we tried to do was put together a nationally competitive schedule. It's one of the things that we have to do coming from a smaller, lesser-known conference. Before we started playing our non-conference schedule, our RPI had a strength of schedule of like 50. I wish I could say we were still at 50 but we're not. We've beaten Nebraska, beaten UMass, beaten Florida State and played 12 of the teams that are in the tournament, so I think we've played a pretty strong schedule."
On pitching situation:
"We're going to start Bonnie (Bynum), and she's going to finish. And she's going to start the next game, and she's going to finish. And then she's going to pitch anything in between and she'll pitch whatever else we get to do. We're fortunate. Bonnie's done a great job for us. She is clearly the best pitcher that our conference has ever seen. And I think that, what I learned a long time ago from my grandfather---my grandfather taught me that you dance with the girl that you take to the prom. So we're going to dance with the girl that got us to the prom."
On previous play in Tuscaloosa against Alabama:
"We played down here about six or seven years ago in a preseason tournament. So we're pretty familiar with the facility. That was one of the things that was so exciting for us to get a chance to come here and play because it was as nice a park as I've ever seen. So we're excited about that part of the trip."
On possibly feeling team has something to prove:
"Coming from a smaller conference, we've always had to prove ourselves, and I think we've done a good job in the preseason doing that with the teams that we've played. I think we're just going to come out here and play our game and give it our best shot."
On how she's not intimidated facing ACC, SEC & Pac 10:
"Every team can beat any team on a given day. Obviously they play stronger schedules during conference than we do, but I think any team can beat any team in a given day. We play our game, I think we're capable of beating any team that's put in front of us."