2019 Women's College World Series

Sunday, June 2 2019

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Patty Gasso

Mariah Lopez

Jocelyn Alo

Nicole Mendes

Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma-7, Alabama-2

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Oklahoma.

Tonightfelt like the ultimate team effort to win this game. You got contributions from everybody. Talk a little bit about you don't win this many games, you don't get to this Championship Series without a total team effort.

PATTY GASSO: I think it's been the story of our season. What I loved about this team is that I put them in tough situations. We were on the road so much, have gone through a lot of different trials. But I can't tell you how proud I am of them, especially after that really tough game, knowing that our season was on the line.

To be honest, Alabama is one of the best teams we played all season. There's no way that team should have been an eight-seed. No way. So, it was just, like, a good old-fashioned dogfight, may the best team win.

This team decided that they were not ready to go home. They all came together really, really well.

THE MODERATOR: Mariah, talk about your performance tonight. You came in early in the game, you were ahead 2-1. What were your thoughts as you entered the game?

MARIAH LOPEZ: I just wanted to have G's back. Just going in there, not focusing on the outcome, just focusing on getting out for this team. They're going to score runs for me. Working ahead in the counts.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the Sooner student-athletes, please.

Q. Nicole, this week you've had so many big plays, do you feel like you're playing at a different level? Anything different with the way you've been producing?
NICOLE MENDES: Yeah, I think something, I've said this before, but something about the World Series brings me to another level. Again, I've also said this before, but before the World Series, kind of during post-season, I just decided whatever the rest of the season holds, it's up to God. I'm just here, whatever happens happens.

It's been really cool to see the way He's used me and the way I've been able to use my platform. I've been doing really good, so it's been cool.

Q. You've had your backs against the wall twice this post-season. Both times you have responded in elimination games. What makes you so resilient as a team?
MARIAH LOPEZ: I just think, I mean, the way we are with one another. This team really clicks. I think that we don't obviously want to go down, whatever would happen. Just with that, I think we have been challenged. Like coach said, in many different ways. I think we've been prepared in these challenges that we've had.

I mean, I don't know, Sooner magic type of thing. We're all coming together, it just happens.

JOCELYN ALO: Going off what Mariah said, we've practiced these situations all the time in practice against each other. We're going against like G, one of the best pitchers in the country, Mariah, Shannon, one of the best pitchers in the country. We're always prepared for this. Literally every day at practice, we practice these situations.

I just think come game time we know when to get it done, how to get it done.

NICOLE MENDES: I think we're a team. Whenever our backs are against the wall, a team's true character shows. Coach told us before the game, This is a character game, how are we going to respond. We came together not just for the seniors, but for each other, the rest of the team. We want to do it for our seniors, but is been a really fun ride.

Q. Nicole and Jocelyn, you fouled off a lot of pitches early in the first game, early in the second game. What got it going? How all of a sudden did you square balls?
NICOLE MENDES: Kind of like you said, we were just missing. I felt like every at-bat I was just missing, I'm on her. Knowing whatever happened, the last at-bat, good or bad, you have to erase it, it's a new at-bat. You got to trust your plan, just go with it.

JOCELYN ALO: I came into that at-bat knowing I was not going to be denied again. I just kind of dug down deep and that happened.

Q. Mariah, after a consistent rotation throughout the regular season, you haven't pitched in about a week. What was it like throughout this World Series not knowing when you were going to be called upon?
MARIAH LOPEZ: Just being prepared for anything. Obviously, G has done a really great job. I don't know, just being prepared for whatever happens. I mean, we're a staff. We're all having that mentality. We talk about these things, have each other's backs. When it happens, it happens.

Q. Jocelyn, what did that home run feel like? Do you have any idea how far it went? Apparently, it hit a car.
JOCELYN ALO: Sweet. It felt effortless. I felt like I was pressing kind of the two at-bats before. I didn't know how far it went. Off the bat, I knew it was like Yay.

Q. Nicole, did Jocelyn's home run take the pressure off everybody else?
NICOLE MENDES: I know we've had a couple of really good hits throughout the first game and the second game, but we couldn't really string together too much. Once Jocelyn hit that home run, it was like a spark was ignited. Once this team gets a spark, it's really hard to stop us. Definitely made us a lot more free, kind of got the ball rolling.

Q. You don't lose very often, but when you lost in the regional, you said you went in your locker room and danced around a little bit. What was it like after losing this time? What were you doing to get the confidence back for the second game?
MARIAH LOPEZ: We just basically put it out there. We're like, we’re not being denied. This won't be our last game. We were ready. We were prepared. Like I said, just not being denied.

JOCELYN ALO: We definitely weren't dancing, but we had, like, Fale told us right after the game, we’re not going to let this loss define us. The seniors did a really good job of recuperating the group back together. Just kind of refocusing on what we need to do.

NICOLE MENDES: We had to change uniforms really quick. After Fale said that, I think everyone kind of took that time while they were changing to reset. We knew it was a quick turnaround.

A loss like that, high emotions, high intentions all throughout the game. It takes a lot out of you, you have to refocus and recenter. I think we did a good job of doing that.

Q. You talked about wanting to have G's back. Does the sense of camaraderie help you at all when you come in on a short notice?
MARIAH LOPEZ: I mean, yes, just because I'm out there fighting for not only my team, but also here, Shannon as well. It's nice to have that. We know that regardless of the outcome, we're all going to be there for one another.

Yeah, I think this staff as a whole, we've worked really hard. Just coming together in these moments has really been something pretty cool.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. With the second game, you changed up your lineup, pretty rare. What went into that decision to put Fale deep in the lineup?
PATTY GASSO: Felt like I wanted to move Jocelyn up a little bit. I like (Caleigh Clifton) up there, as well. Fale has been making contact, but I thought -- Mendes has been hot. I just thought putting Fale down in the seven might give us a little additional power there. That was really all that was to it.

Q. The biggest decision was starting G, came in with Mariah. Talk about your decision, why you went that way.
PATTY GASSO: Well, G, you could see she was a little bit spent. But we wanted to see if we could get an inning or two out of here because she still would be able to remain in the game.

Mariah, she is a veteran of the staff. Wanted to give her an opportunity to kind of pound the zone and go hard at 'em, in and out. She did a phenomenal job. I am so happy for her because she's really been waiting patiently for her time. This was the biggest game of her career, was how she threw tonight.

Q. What have you made of Nicole's performance this past week?
PATTY GASSO: I look up and she is like a cheerleader rallying the outfield. I hear everyone screaming. I look up, what's going on? I see Mendes, she's having fun. She's having fun. The fans are responding. It's almost like when she does that, she calls herself out. She made a big diving play. She's done some phenomenal things.

Really the best she's played all season. I think she said is right. She thrives in this environment, doesn't want to let down her team. But also the fans have been a great inspiration for this team. They have been outstanding.

Q. After the way the first game turned out, it was pretty important you come out and make a statement. You score in the first inning. How important was that?
PATTY GASSO: It was very important just because we spent -- how many innings did the first one go? Eight? With not much production. So, to get ourselves on the board, I think just kind of opened up the skies a little bit for us and gave them a little bit of momentum, a little bit of confidence. It's rare that we get shut out. I don't know if we've been shut out all season. That was something new to them.

Really helpful, it really was.

Q. You have UCLA, a team you played earlier in the year, Championship Series before. What do you expect to see out of your team over the next couple of days?
PATTY GASSO: We have got to have some crazy fight. I know both teams are a little worn out. You have a chance -- there's two teams that have a chance to win a national championship. There's no such thing as tired, no such thing as hurt. Nothing like that.

You just got to live off of adrenaline and give all you have.

Q. What stands out to you about Rachel Garcia? What are you in for?
PATTY GASSO: She's just an absolute athlete. We were watching her today, not just kind of handle her stuff on the mound, get out of big innings, but she also hit the walk-off. You don't find athletes like that, maybe once in a blue moon.

To watch her do her work, she is a National Player of the Year.

Q. (Question about Lauren Chamberlain retiring.)
PATTY GASSO: She's given so much to the game. I'm really proud of her. I'm really proud she represents the University of Oklahoma. What I love about players when they leave, or when they go on beyond college, what do they give back to the game. Lauren has really done a great job of giving back to the game. She has a lot of followers. People are paying attention to the things that she says.

A lot of it has to do with our sport. I'm sad to see that, but I know she's been hurting quite a bit. But I know she'll still be around the sport and still giving. I'm just proud of her.

Q. Can you put this day in perspective. What does it say about your team?
PATTY GASSO: I have the worst headache, and I've had it for about five hours. It's been a tough day. It's really been a tough day.

Like you said, waiting, they've done a good job of that. Then just the back and forth with Alabama. There's a little bit of frustration because we normally can square things up. So there was frustration.

There was just a boatload of emotions all day long. It was high and it was low. It's like rush out of here, get in the other dugout, change your uniform. Oh, by the way, get out on the field in two minutes and we're doing the national anthem. No one is in the stadium. What's going on?

Kind of confusing at times, but we just kept staying the course. You know what's at stake. This team's ultimate goal is to win a national championship. So you just got to roll with it the best you can. They did a really great job of that.

Q. In terms of long home runs, where does that one rank?
PATTY GASSO: That disappeared into the darkness really fast. I've seen her hit some, but I'd say that's probably right there with some of the furthest I've ever seen from anyone, and she's usually the one that hits it further than I've ever seen.

It was at the right time and it was great for her. She's really been trying to step up for this team.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #2 by #502 at 2019-06-03 04:02:00 GMT

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