April 9, 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 and to register, please click here.
BERKELEY - One name that is synonymous with the California softball team's NCAA Championship is Jocelyn Forest. In the 2002 national title game, Forest threw a one-hitter as the Golden Bears defeated Arizona 6-0 to win the first NCAA women's team title in Cal school history. Forest was named the tournament's most outstanding player, completing the WCWS with a 4-0 record, 0.50 earned run average and 33 strikeouts in 28.0 innings. Forest won all eight of her 2002 NCAA postseason appearances. CalBears.com caught up with Forest - who currently lives in Santa Cruz and owns a strength and conditioning gym - to discuss the historic run in Oklahoma City.
CalBears.com: The NCAA sent the Bears to Fresno for Regionals, where you guys had to play Stanford, Fresno State and Fullerton. In a Q&A with us last week, Kristen Morley told us that you told the team, "Well I guess we have to win it all now." Tell us about the moment when that announcement was made.
Jocelyn Forest: I remember that exactly. We were all sitting around at Courtney Scott, Candace Harper and Kristen Morley's apartment, watching the selection show. First we found out that we're going to Fresno, which was already just a bummer for us. We had gone to Fresno a lot of times, and it was a big softball rival for us, and they were a very good team. The next team came out, and it was Stanford. At that point, everybody was up in arms because it was the first time that two Pac-10 teams had ended up at a regional together. And of course they were ranked very high. Then it came out that we were going to be playing Fullerton. So there all these high-ranked California teams in this one region, so there was this couple of minutes where everyone was very upset. Then all of a sudden, it was like this calm came over us. We just kind of looked at each other. I don't remember what exactly I said, but it was like a decision had been made right there in that moment that we were winning and that was it. Everybody believed it down to their core. It was a really good feeling.
CalBears.com: What anecdotes stick out in your mind about that year?
JF: For me, the strength and conditioning that year played such a huge role in it. It wasn't just that the strength and conditioning itself was a good program, which it was; it was amazing. I loved our coach, Mary Dempsey; she's so awesome and a really big role model in my life. But it was just the fact that we worked so hard with each other. We'd show up at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning a couple days a week, and we'd get out there and we'd just work. Everybody was so on board with it. There weren't any slackers, and no one had bad attitudes about getting up early in the morning to do work. Such a camaraderie came out of it. We were all such different people. That happens all the time with teams, where you have to find a way to come together on the field even when you have such different personalities. Were all very different people. But it was just such a special thing that we really did know how to bring it together on the field and work for the common goal that we decided we were going to reach.
CalBears.com: What was it like being in Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series?
JF: It's kind of surreal feeling. It was strange because you almost felt like you were in a dream. For me, it didn't really feel like I was there; it was kind of a haze. At the same time, it was like we knew what the outcome would be. I know that sounds funny because how can you really know. I just remember the whole team coming to that tournament with that feeling that no one is going to stop us. We're winning. We're coming here and we're winning.
CalBears.com: When the score was still 0-0 heading into the seventh inning, were you worried?
JF: There was never any doubt in my mind that we were going to win. It was just a matter of how long it was going to take. I didn't know if we were going to be looking at an extra-inning game. I can't even emphasize enough how much I believed that we were going to win and how much the team believed that we were going to win. It was just a decision that had been made. It was going to happen. There was nobody that was going to stop us. Going into that seventh inning, you start to feel that pressure. I don't know if it's going to happen now or in the 10th inning, but it's happening so just stay strong. So when we go into that seventh inning, Kaleo was the first person was the first person to come through and score that run. It was that moment. We came celebrating at home plate as if that was the game - as if it was a walk-off winning run. However it was the top of the seventh inning, not the bottom. So we had to pull ourselves back together. I started crying when we scored that run because I knew that was it. When I got back to the dugout, I had to take a second to compose myself because the game wasn't over. I had to remind myself that the game wasn't over. There was a lot left. We still had to close the door. So I gathered myself and get ready to finish out the game in the bottom of the seventh. But then, it just unfolded. We just started hitting. Before we knew it, it was 6-0. That of course, was just amazing because at that point, it's just like the nail in the coffin right there.
CalBears.com: So you're up 6-0 and head into the bottom of the seventh. What were you thinking as you headed to the circle?
JF: Same thing - it was just like this is it. This is the moment. Let's go out there and do work, and close the door. It was just like, nobody is getting on base. This game is ours right now and we're coming out to close the door right now. In a away, it was kind of like autopilot. There was no fear. There was nothing. Just get in that circle, and get it done. And when it's over, that's when we'll celebrate.
CalBears.com: Once it was over, what was that feeling like?
JF: For me, in that moment, it was relief. I look back, and I almost wish that I had felt more joy in the moment, but it was more just relief that the job was done. The job that I had decided in my mind was going to be done. I think the joy started to set in over the course of the next few days. But in that moment, for me, it was more relief.