Thursday Talk, Friday It Counts

Alabama and Hawaii will begin play in the NCAA Super Regional at 5:30 p.m. CDT Friday at the Alabama Softball Complex. The teams will play a best-of-three series with the winner going to the Women's College World Series. On Thursday, the coaches and players met the media. Here is what they had to say:

Alabama Head coach Patrick Murphy

Opening comments:

"We were talking the other day in the office, [assistant coaches] Ali (Habetz) Vann (Stuedeman) and I, about our roads to the World Series in the past 10 or 12 years, and I think without a doubt this has been the toughest road to get there. A lot of people didn't know about Lipscomb, but we were very impressed with their stats and their season. To have to beat them twice in regionals was a tough task.

"To face Hawaii in the second round in the Super Regionals is an even bigger task. They've had a great, great year. Obviously you know their home run numbers. It's going to be a great match-up. We're all looking forward to it, and we're glad they're here.

"We went there for a tournament in 2005 or 2004 and had a great time. We had dinner with one of the most famous football kickers in Alabama, Peter Kim, who hosted us. We had great hospitality everywhere we went in Hawaii."

On the importance of Charlotte Morgan to the program:

"I always said the same thing about Stephanie (VanBrakle, UA All-America) that I say about Charlotte. They're both worth two full rides. They both hit, and they both pitch. They're the presence in the lineup that we were really looking for in that lineup. Not only a physical presence, but the demeanor I think is needed in the middle of the lineup. We're going to really miss that all the time intensity and competitiveness. I know she scares almost every freshman that comes to the team. They're all afraid of Charlotte Morgan, but once they get to know her they know she's just a softie at heart. We're going to miss that intensity and competitiveness."

On his experience with Hawaii:

"We played them (Hawaii) last year in Palm Springs and it was really early. Charlotte (Morgan) pitched a heck of game then Kelsi (Dunne) came in in the eighth. It was great game. I called a hit and run and our third baseman (Kelly Montalvo) thought she hit a home run, but their centerfielder made an over the shoulder, over the fence catch and pulled it back. We won the game with a run I think in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was a walk off single. It was great game. There are a lot of new kids on both teams actually. We can look back a little bit, but it's totally different teams on both sides."

On approaching an explosive team like Hawaii:

"Last year we faced Arizona and they were the Bronx Bombers of the World Series. Charlotte (Morgan) pitched a great game. Good pitchers throw good pitches, and hopefully that's what Kelsi (Dunne), Charlotte, Amanda Locke and Lauren Sewell are going to do. If it happens, it happens, but I think the great defense and pitching will hopefully carry through and allow us to finish what we started in April."

Pitcher Kelsi Dunne

On facing Hawaii hitters who have combined for 149 homeruns and the approach UA will take:

"The only thing we can come into these games and do is pitch our best pitch every pitch. We can't go up there thinking they've hit all these home runs because that will get in our head. They have to hit off of us. We just need to go in there and do what we do best and not think about what they do."

On whether or not she relishes the opportunity of facing great hitting lineups:

"We're just excited to get out there and play this weekend. We've been working since last summer and fall and this whole season to make it this far. We're really looking forward to getting out there and playing against Hawaii this weekend because they're a great team. Great games are fun to us. All we can do is respect them and do our best. That's what we plan on doing."

Second baseman Kayla Braud

On the amount of confidence this team has right now:

"We have a lot of confidence because we've won 27 games in a row now, and we get better every single game. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to peak at the right time and improve in all aspects of our game. When it all comes together, it's starting to right now, that's what gives us confidence. That's what this team is all about – coming out and playing confident, especially when we're at home. We have the best fans in the country, so that helps the confidence a lot."

Pitcher/First Baseman Charlotte Morgan

On facing Hawaii hitters who have combined for 149 home runs and the approach UA will take:

"Just like Kelsi (Dunne) said, we have to respect them just as they have to respect us. We faced Arizona in the World Series last year, and they were the home run team too. We're going to go in there and not pitch scared, but pitch our game. What the end result is we'll see."

On what convinced her to come to UA:

" I went on a couple of visits all around, and I just really fell in love with the opportunity that was given here. I love the field; it's one of the top ones in the county. The Bryant (Academic) Center (was also a plus). Coming from home my mom was really worried about my studies and stuff like that. Having that, the weight room and all the amenities that came with this school I really liked. I knew it was far, but when I came here I knew it. When I went to some other schools all around I just didn't get that same feeling. Murph (Patrick Murphy) and the coaches said I could pitch and hit and that was huge for me. I don't look back any second that I took it. I hope more kids start to expand like Kayla Braud coming from Oregon."

Hawaii Head Coach Bob Coolen

Opening Comments: "It's real nice to be here. It has been a long haul, not only from the Islands, but also from being on the road the last three weeks, going from the WAC Tournament to the Regionals and now to the Super Regionals. It has been a goal of our players from the beginning to win the regular season, the WAC tournament, Regionals, Super Regionals and then go on to the World Series. Right now they are focused on that. It's been a fun ride to go along with them."

On past experience of playing in Regionals and Super Regionals helping this year's team:

"For me it was a reality check once we won Regionals. When we won it last time at UCLA, we were in limbo without a hotel, not knowing where to go or what to do. This time we were prepared for it. Our seniors were there last time as freshmen. They experienced the ride. Katie Grimes was our only starting player at that time, so she went through it playing and then having to make the arrangements to head out to Tennessee (for the 2007 Knoxville Super Regional). This time it was a little more organized in the sense of bringing our team along. I know we weren't really an exciting team at the WAC tournament from a sense of jumping out on people because our focus was to keep rolling out to the World Series. That's what our focus is right now."

On how long the team has been on the road:

"We left May 10, Monday. This is our third week on the road."

On the difficulty of scouting a team when being away from your own office and campus for so long:

"I don't really scout. I'll go to games and watch them. If I get the opportunity to watch the game, I will track the tendencies on a program. I don't ask for scouting reports (from other coaches). I don't think it is ethical to ask for scouting reports from another coach. We are all shooting for the same thing, that big regional bid, so why would I want to give a scouting report to another opponent to allow them to go to Regionals and for me to not go to Regionals? That might be selfish, but that's the way I look at it. If I get the opportunity to scout a team, then I scout them myself. I don't ask for any assistance from anyone. I don't watch films, I watch TV. That is the only scouting report I have on Alabama. I've seen them play some games on TV, so I understand what they have. To be honest with you, no disrespect to their pitcher, but I didn't know her name. I was quoted on that in USA Today, but I really didn't know who she was. I don't really worry that much about the opponent. I worry about the colors that we wear. That is how we approach our game."

On how Alabama's softball facilities stack up to those around the nation that his team has visited:

"Right now, I'd say the venue is one of the bigger ballparks we will have played in. We just came from Stanford which is also 200, 220, 200, but it felt smaller because it is enclosed with a higher fence and the wind was gusting around 20-30 miles per hour right to left. Some of the other parks we play at are small, 190 down the lines and 220 to center, and those are mostly at high altitude. Facility wise, this is something you aspire to have. With the suites and flip down chairs rather than bleacher seating. This is a stadium. We call our park a stadium, but it is sort of just a field."

Center fielder Kelly Majam

On the ability to adjust to an extended road trip lasting over two weeks:

"It is easier now since we are done with school. Being in the hotel is okay, and not having to worry about school work is nice. The first week (of the road trip) when we were in the WAC tournament, a lot of girls had finals. That was the end of our school year, and that was kind of difficult having to take finals on the road. Right now though, it is fun. We enjoy ourselves. We get to hang out a lot together, and we enjoy spending time together."

On the secret to hitting so many home runs as a team:

"We work really hard in the weight room. We definitely stepped up our strength and conditioning this year, and I think that has a really big part in it. We're a lot stronger. We take a lot of swings, both in the season and in the off-season, so we see a lot of cuts and I think that really helps us."

Third baseman/Pitcher Melissa Gonzalez

On what she remembers of playing with Alabama senior Charlotte Morgan in high school:

"We were really good friends in high school. We were both pitchers in high school, so we were really like a tag-team in high school, and that is really what I remember most. She would be playing first, and I'd be pitching. Then I'd go out and play, and she would pitch."

On the secret to hitting so many homeruns as a team:

"I think it is kind of like follow the leader.

When someone is doing well, we all seem to be doing well, and I think that is what has really been helping us this year. We have a great leadoff batter, and then after that it is kind of like follow the leader."

Pitcher Stephanie Ricketts

On what she remembers about playing Alabama last year at the Cathedral City Classic:

"That (playing Alabama in the Cathedral City Classic) was one of the first games I started my freshman year, so I was nervous. I've changed since then, and they've changed since then. I really don't remember that much about it."

On pitching under less pressure with a team that has hit 149 home runs on the year:

"It is definitely nice to have the offense that we have behind me. I always say this is the easiest team to pitch for because they give me as many runs as I need, and we have some great defenders. Even when I'm off my game, the first thing Katie (Grimes) comes out to say is ‘It's okay, we haven't had a chance to bat yet,' so whenever something goes wrong, I know that our team can usually handle it."

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