2019 Women's College World Series

Sunday, June 2 2019

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Kelly Inouye-Perez

Rachel Garcia

Bubba Nickles

UCLA Bruins

UCLA-3, Washington-0

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by UCLA.

Coach, you were in this exact same position last year against Florida State. Unfortunately came up a little short. What was different about this team that you were able to advance?

KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I think I was very proud of our effort last year. You can clearly see Rachel Garcia was convicted; she wasn't going to let that happen again. That's what it comes down to. Your ability to stay convicted. This team never gave up. This team literally continued to throw many punches. Washington is a legit team. Every time we play them it's a dogfight. We knew that coming in.

I think experience does kick in. You can definitely get frustrated. You can definitely find yourself being almost emotional. These guys actually got stronger and stronger as the game went on. I think just their mindset. I want Rachel to kind of talk about her training on how she got to this point, to be able to build confidence.

If you heard them right now, they were very committed. They were very together. There was a strong belief that they were going to get this done. I think that was something that experience brings. You're not going to let it happen again.

THE MODERATOR: Rachel, as far as home plate celebration, where does that one rank?

RACHEL GARCIA: I think just during that whole at-bat, I could just hear everyone behind me telling me, I got this. Just having my back the entire way through this entire game, too. That was not easy for me. But just being able to have the confidence that I had with my team behind me and making the plays that they did just kept me going.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Rachel, talk about when you're rounding third, you see everyone at home, what was going through your mind?
RACHEL GARCIA: A lot of emotions. I'm not going to lie. I think I shed a tear a little bit. During that battle all I could think about was my grandpa. That kept me calm and collected. Just seeing everyone run out to the home plate just really put a smile on my face. I was just super excited for all of us.

Q. Rachel, it seemed like it was only a matter of time until you were going to get ahold of one. What were you looking for? What kind of adjustment did you make?
RACHEL GARCIA: I think just coming into this game, my game plan was to look in. I knew for a fact, I mean, last time we faced them, I got all outside. I knew coming into this game I was probably going to get thrown down and in. I was just looking for anything actually up and in.

I think when I saw that change-up come, I knew I had to hit it.

Q. Your coach talking about the experience that you all have. How much do you owe the credit to experience for getting you to this position?
BUBBA NICKLES: Experience is huge. It's crucial for us. We just played a long game. It's really tough to persevere. We had to communicate with each other that we have each other's backs, we got this. We're going to go down fighting. We're not going to stop throwing punches.

I think experience is crucial, especially for that game.

RACHEL GARCIA: I mean, we've been preparing for this since day one. Just coming out after those two games, coming out for this one, we knew how prepared we were for all of it.

Q. How tired were you? How long could you have gone?
RACHEL GARCIA: Actually, my adrenaline was kicking up even more. I wasn't feeling anything. I just kept going. I'm pretty sure I could have thrown another game.

Q. Did you just bear down, what happened?
RACHEL GARCIA: Funny, after every single inning, me, Coach Lisa and Paige would go into the training room and she was just telling me, ‘You got this. You're mentally prepared for this moment. You're going to keep going. You're going to outlast every single one here.’

That's what kept me mentality going. Just hearing those words just stuck with me throughout the entire game. Then on top of it, just my teammates throughout the entire game. We weren't getting the success we wanted in the beginning, but as the game was going through, the second Taran came back in, we were hyped up. When Plain came back in, we were even more excited. We knew we were on time and getting runs.

Q. Rachel, you were in a similar position last year with Florida State. What was different this time for you?
RACHEL GARCIA: Like I said, we've been preparing since day one. I just think being able to work with Coach Lisa has been a huge factor for us pitchers just mentally preparing us, especially in moments like this. We were doing champ camps, cardio workout before our bullpens. If we can get through that, we can get through what we went through right now.

Q. Rachel, what is it about your mental game that sets you apart?
RACHEL GARCIA: I think just being out there and playing for my teammates, giving everything I have, doing everything for them. On top of it, just the confidence that they give me.

Q. What does it mean to put UCLA back in the Championship Series?
BUBBA NICKLES: It's amazing. We feel so good right now. But we're not done yet. We have a lot that we want to accomplish still. Today was tough, but it was a good way for us to be prepared for the next couple of days.

RACHEL GARCIA: Yeah, just huge for us getting back there. We're not done yet. We still have to get after Game 1.

Q. You don't know who you're going to face. Even if you did, your answers might be similar. What are you going to do and how are you going to mentally prepare for that series?
RACHEL GARCIA: I think just focusing on us and sticking to a game plan, just sticking to a routine.

BUBBA NICKLES: Same. I was thinking the exact same thing. Focusing on us, we're our own competition really at this point. It really feel like if we stay within ourselves, we can go all the way.

Q. How crucial was having yesterday off?
RACHEL GARCIA: I mean, having that off day is super nice. Still had study hall (laughter). But, I mean, it was super nice to have a day off, just spend some time with some family, just getting after some personal time.

BUBBA NICKLES: I thought it was really good for the team because we did take the time to go to cryotherapy, do some recovery stuff. Like Rachel said, we're still in school, so we did some study hall. A day to get our mind off of outside-of-softball stuff.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. You've been a part of a lot of great softball. How did 179 pitches to go to the championship game, where does that rank in the pantheon of great performances you've seen?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I think you said that. I'm so fortunate to have had so many memories on this stage, as a player, as an assistant. I've been able to be here a lot. To see someone impact the game like that as a pitcher and hitter, I really haven't seen.

I can tell you epic moments for pitchers and hitters, some greats. That Natasha Watley walk-off, game-tying hit, one of the biggest in history. (Indiscernible) throwing the no hitter was one of the biggest I can remember. There's so many.

But to see someone impact like this at this stage is something pretty good. I think Megan Langfeld did something like this in 2010 where she held off a very offensive Arizona and got into extra innings, ended up hitting the walk-off in 2010 in Game 1 of the championship. That was pretty epic.

What Rachel has done for this team and the expectations, just all of those things. I truly believe this definitely will go down as one of the top moments to get UCLA back in the championship game, especially after what happened last year. Super proud of her for that.

Q. Talk about what this says about the team in general.
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I think the best part about that is you kind of heard them. We're so focusing on ourselves. This team has done that. We have played solid ball. We had had a great regular season. We found ourselves almost I would say sloppy at times, just kind of got off track.

I think their ability to stay within themselves, truly believe in themselves. Culture is big. People say we have culture at UCLA because we win. I honestly think it's the opposite: we win because we have culture.

This team sticks together. There's an ability, we've learned that if you don't get it done, somebody else will pick you up. We all want it. I've also been a part of teams when there's failure, there's frustration that leads to mistakes. You find yourself emotionally disappointed with how you performed.

This team, if you saw their energy, we said that, we said it was going to be an epic battle, we said we had to throw punch, we were going to get to throw the last punch, we were home team.

Bottom line what it says about my team, they're very convicted to win ballgames. I think Aaliyah did a math problem at one point in the game. Coach, there's nine of us, we've all had about five at-bats, there's 45. Somebody is going to make an adjustment, I promise you.

There's a belief. But not I believe I can, but we need to make an adjustment. They pulled together every inning and talked about that. Somebody is going to make an adjustment. We're going to have each other's backs. They were very convicted in that. There's a resilience about our team. Most importantly there's a belief that we will. They didn't get overall frustrated or emotional. They just kept throwing punches.

Q. You spoke about the importance of that experience last year, overcoming it. This team is heading into a space where they don't have that experience as far as Championship Series. From your perspective as a coach, what do you do to help prepare and guide your team into this big moment?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I think the experience is the game. We've gotten to a point where the Pac-12 allows us to practice winning a series. We know Game 1 is the big one. But we understand you're going to have another game. There's almost a discipline or a conditioning on how to get through a Championship Series.

I shouldn't say, you're right, we haven't been in the championship. But the focus of this team is to be able just to play softball and understand. You heard them say it, we say it all the time, our biggest competition is ourselves, can we play our game. When I say there's an edge, but there's not an ego about this team. There's emotion, but it's not overly emotional.

I think our goal is to continue to play our game. We knew we were going to face everyone. We didn't care who we played. I've told them this, the quicker we settle into the game, the more comfortable you're going to get, that becomes familiar territory of how we win ballgames.

To see Kelly and the freshmen figure out a way to get on base brings positive vibes to how we win ballgames. To see Bri get a two-strike success, pick up Bubba who didn't get an outcome, who is always there for us. These are the things we're focusing on. We're not focusing on the bigger picture.

I'm excited for this opportunity because we've been planning for it all year. I think the most important thing is my job is to make sure they don't make it bigger than it is. The experience factor is can we continue to just play softball, can you continue to get after the next pitch, can we continue to throw punches. That's our goal no matter who we play, knowing we're going to play more than one game. We got to get back, get some rest, get ready to get after one pitch at a time.

Q. As the game was going on, the risk of keeping Rachel in went up, given the possibility of a doubleheader. What did you see that gave you the confidence?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: First and foremost, I wouldn't call it a risk. We were here to win. I think that was the statement I made by starting her. That kind of goes back to the Pac-12, of how the other pitchers fared against Washington, how Rachel did against Washington.

Rachel was ready to two games today. I'm going to do whatever I need to do to help this team win. A big part of that is our pitching staff, she's been in a position where she knows people, they have her back. She was mentally prepared to get after it.

With that being said, I wasn't in risk factor. I had a plan if they hit her, but I also wanted to be in a position, she knew and the team knew, we were going with Rachel Garcia.

To answer your question, the risk wasn't there because she was continuing to get after it. If she was getting clubbed up, they were scoring runs, that's a different story. Thank God, she was in a position to be able to outlast.

Q. Besides from Rachel's physical abilities, what is it about her mental game that makes her one of the best players in the world?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I literally feel first and foremost she has a talent. She's a hard worker. She enjoys hard training, like cross-fit training. She enjoys pressure situations as far as just making things a little harder. I'm going to say it again. I think pairing her up with Lisa paid off. Lisa had the pitchers doing things this year, she's always talked about this, though we hadn't been implementing it, wearing tights and sleeves over their uniforms all the time so they're overheated. Lisa is having this do this, to this is what we do. They would do cardio before their workouts to make sure they were in a position to be fatigued and continue to pitch. If we got into these situations, it wasn't concern. You're stronger. Nobody else is doing what you're doing. There's a training. They this workouts at times where a pitcher would be throwing. Until she threw the pitch, this person would be jumping rope, the other pitcher. Sometimes they had the catchers involved so there was a consequence.

The worst thing, you don't want to let your teammates down. If your teammates are jump roping or spinning the bike, there's a sense of urgency to get it done.

First, she's a solid athlete, she's conditioned and fit, she likes to work hard. I think the mental preparation working with Lisa has really paid out for all the pitchers because they prepared for extra innings, super-hot, Oklahoma games. And here we are. She's been put in a position to succeed. I definitely credit my coaches for that.

Q. Knowing that you'll either face Oklahoma or Alabama, speak to both possibilities.
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: Yeah, first of all, I have so much respect for both Patty (Gasso) and Pat (Murphy). Both of them are obviously great coaches but they also run a very complete, solid program. The girls are successful. You can see they're happy, they're thriving. Very similar to ours. There's a lot of respect there.

I think I feel we played Oklahoma. I haven't played Alabama in a long time. I can't remember the last time we played Alabama, to be honest with you. All I know is they're a solid team this year, they made a lot of noise in the pre-season, so we were paying attention to what Alabama was doing. I haven't really studied Alabama as much. Like I said, the series I have been, but not as much.

Patty, Oklahoma, we've played. We played earlier this season. I'm very aware they're very offensive. G is somebody we faced in the Pac-12 last year. She's somebody I know is very talented. Looked like she's changed up her game as well. Both teams have pitching, solid offense, some depth. I think it's really going to come down to the team that settles in and plays their game is going to be able to come out and be the national champion.

I have respect for both Patty and Pat, all the coaches here that are top eight, literally done some great things to get their teams to this point. Not an easy path. I look forward to whoever we play because it's going to be a great game.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #2 by #502 at 2019-06-02 22:16:00 GMT

ASAP sports

tech 129