Monday press conference: Karen Gallagher

Badger softball coach looked ahead to her young team's potential next season

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Opening statement

"I'd like to begin by saying that I have been really, really happy with this young group of athletes. Like (men's track coach Ed Nuttycombe) was saying, he has a very young team. Potentially, I thought we would do a little bit better this year. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. I guess what I'm focusing on right now is I'm very excited about the prospects for our upcoming season, next year. When you have five starting freshmen in your lineup, especially this past weekend, it's kind of an exciting viewpoint to look at your team and where we're going. This is a big week for us. I think when you're ending your season, you always want to end it on a high note. You want to play well, perform well and certainly end at home in front of your fans playing well and getting them excited for the next year to come. That's certainly what I'm trying to focus on this week."

How do you think the team will respond going into the final homestand, knowing that you can't make the Big Ten tournament?

"I think they'll respond very well. They're disappointed, they're frustrated. I think they're looking back at their season with shoulda, coulda, wouldas. I think we look at these three games coming up and I think it gives you an edge going into next year. We have some excellent recruits coming in; I think they're just going to make our team stronger. I like the attitude of this team. That was one thing I really, really liked about them. They had a lot of character, they played hard, they never gave up. If you look at our won-loss record, we lost a lot of one-run ballgames this year. With having ten freshmen on the team, you look at this as a growing, transitional year. We look back at it and we evaluate it and you go from there, but I think we're going to be doing the little things we didn't do as well this year, next year and at a much higher level."

Having as young of a team as you do going into next year, what kind of things would you expect out of them?

"Obviously, a year like we've gone through teaches them a lot. I think we have a real mature group of young women that want to win. I think when you have those two things, they come back with a different approach. We have a lot of our leadership coming back, we have the core of our team coming back. We only lose one senior. So I think in terms of their approach, they're winners. I know they're winners, and I think we're going to come out with a totally different attitude. We'll definitely be a team to be reckoned with next year."

Can you talk a little bit about Boo Gillette's season? Even though there's been some hitting struggles, it seems like she's been fairly consistent and has done well at the plate all year.

"She's been our leader. She's taken charge when we've been in slumps offensively. She's an aggressive hitter. She's gets up there and she kind of puts it on the line for us. She encourages her teammates to approach the game the same way. Boo has been consistent throughout the year. She has broken several offensive records for us this year. She should be up for some Big Ten awards, I believe. She's our leader and I think it's nice that she's coming back. She's the leader behind the plate for us and she's a leader at the plate for us and she's a leader off the field. In terms of her presence in our program, it's been tremendous. She's already focusing on next year and obviously keeping the kids motivated for this week. She's a franchise player, if I can use that term. She's also a great person and a great kid to have on the team."

You mentioned Boo being a franchise player. Would it be fair to say she's got a franchise family and support group with everything that they bring to the table?

"The Gillette family, they're like a cult of their own, basically. They're great people. They've been a great support for our program. They're out at almost every game, despite the fact that they live in Florida, they come out to the cold-weather games in Wisconsin. It's a nice feeling to know that the whole family supports this program at a very high level. Boo is just a reflection of her family. There's a lot of love and support there and that certainly came through in how she is on the team and the way she is with her teammates. That's why, after next year, she's going to be greatly missed in so many ways outside of the ball field as well."


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