Tuscaloosa Regional Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes

May 17, 2007

Tuscaloosa, Ala. - NCAA Softball Regional Pre-Tournament Press Conference Quotes


HEAD COACH Diane Ninemire:

'We're excited to be here at this regional. Alabama is a greatinstitution to host a regional and we just look forward to playing somegood softball this weekend.'

On what their travel and schedule has been like this week:

'It's been very busy because we've been in the middle of finals. We justfinished finals yesterday morning before we hopped on a plane here toAtlanta then down to Birmingham. So our week has been full of trying tosqueeze in practice but mostly just trying to get our players as studentathletes for the number one public institution in the country to getready for their finals and finish. So we were able to accomplish that.We have all of our finals completed and now we have the weight of ourschool work off of our shoulders and so now we're looking forward to thefun part of playing softball.'


'We've prepared our team for this all season long. If you look at ourschedule, we travel the first seven weeks of the year every year, yearin and year out. We are an institution that is not fortunate enough tohost regionals because of our facilities, and so I've always planned inthe past, as I am today, to get this team out and travel coast to coastand get used to traveling and bonding together so that we have preparedourselves to be in a regional playing playing against the bestcompetition in the country. So I think this team is very prepared forthis moment.'

On team:

'This is a very young team. In 2002 we won a national championship, andI think I had about 9-10 new players on that team and I don't think verymany people gave them a chance to do much and I think they kind ofshocked the world with 19 losses, probably the most losses of any teamto win a national championship. This team already has, what 30 losses.But I purposely put this young team against the toughest competitivethrough the season. I really wanted to get them used to playing greatteams. And I know we took some lumps along the way, but I also think itwas character-building. And I think that's why we're here today becauseour young ladies learned a lot through the season, and it's not what youdo at the beginning of the year; it's how you end your year. It's whereyour memories are made. And so I think they're all excited about makingsome memories going down the stretch here.'

On pitching plans:

'We haven't decided that yet. We're still debating on that. But Ibelieve that all of our pitchers will throw at some point in time duringthe course of this regional and I feel confident that any one of themcan go out and do their best job and play some good defense and get sometimely hits this weekend. It's what it's going to be about.'

'They all throw a little different. They've got all the pitches andthey're going to try to keep the batters off balance as best as theycan. And then we're going to have to play tough defense, like I said.Our bats are going to have to be alive this weekend and I think we dohave the potential of having a good offensive lineup when they're allworking. So we'll just have to wait and see what happens.'

On field in Tuscaloosa:

'This is a very good field. Alabama, being ranked one and two most ofthe year, Patrick (Murphy) comes in with probably one of the best teamshe's had for a while. And Florida State has always been a contender.I'll be quite honest, I don't know a lot about Tennessee Tech, but I'veheard great things about them. For us, our motto is that we fear no onebut we respect everyone. I think everyone here, they've done atremendous job to get their teams ready and be prepared. I don't carewho you are in any regional. You better be ready to play anybody becauseeverybody is going to come out with their best games tomorrow andthroughout the entire weekend, so I think it's going to be a realexciting regional and one of the top regionals in the country.'

Alex Sutton:

On hectic schedule she and players have faced this week:

'You just have to take it one day at a time. I was one of the girls thathad a final yesterday morning, so it was a lot of studying, a lot ofpractice. A lot of time management. You get used to it. I'm a senior, soI know the ropes now. I don't know about those freshmen.'

On team snapping back:

'We just came together. We knew what had to be done. Playing with girlsin the past and never really facing adversity as far as losing goes, itwas different. We had to be patient. A lot of us veterans really had totake it a step at a time. I don't know, it's been fun. It's been a trip,that's for sure. I don't know. We've just been having fun.'

'We're so ecstatic to be here. We were so worried and so nervous. 'Werewe going to able to come?' 'Were we not?' Was the season over?' And Ithink right now we're just going to play and show everyone what we'vegot.'


Head Coach Joanne Graf:

'We're real excited to be in Tuscaloosa. I know Alabama has hosted a lotof tournaments in the past, and they've got a great staff, a greatcoaching staff. So we know you guys are going to put on great tournamentand we're real excited. If we didn't get to host, we were excited thatwe get to come here because I know everything will be run first classand really will provide a great experience for out student athletes. Ithink a good team will come out of this regional and hopefully a teamout of this regional can advance to the World Series.'

On Cal:

'It's a tough opening game. I think there are a few others I'd ratherhave in the national tournament than Cal-Berkeley. They've kind of hadour number. We've played them in a lot of regionals and a lot of WorldSeries and they've usually come out ahead. I think their record is verymisleading. They play in a very tough conference, obviously, in the Pac10. So they've played good teams. It's a situation now (where) I thinkevery team here has to play perfect. All these teams are good and theyall are going to take advantage if you don't play well. But Cal's goingto be a great team and they're going to be a tough opponent.'

On expanded ACC:

'I think our league is very comparable with a lot of leagues, and if youlook at our RPI for our league, it's been very high. I want to say topthree. So I think definitely the ACC has really put a lot of emphasisinto building their program, building stadiums, adding scholarships. Andreally, I think the biggest thing they've done is improve their travelschedule. So those teams are playing teams nationally and getting somenational exposure. The ACC, it took them a while I think to really beginto do that, but now I think it is one of the toughest conferences, andobviously we'd hoped to really kind of capitalize on the tournament lastweekend when I did not feel like we played up to our potential, sohopefully we can play a little bit better this weekend.'

Veronica Wootson

On 2006 post-season and experiences learned/gained and how she'sadvising her younger teammates:

'Just from the experience I've had in the past as far as what I can Itell my team is that, kind of like what coach said, you have tocapitalize on their mistakes and not make as many or any at all just toadvance. So, (I'm) just telling that to the younger players who are herefor the first time or the people who haven't made it, just let them knowthat. And just to know that this is tough. This is a tense game and it'sgoing to be hard to play out there but just stay focused and give it youhave is probably my goal.'

On expanded ACC:

'ACC teams, they've made it to regionals, so I that itself proves thatwe're playing some pretty tough teams and we're getting ready for theteams that we're getting ready to face right now.'


Head Coach Patrick Murphy:

'The weather is going to be great. I was hoping that it was going to beabout 115 and 100 percent humidity, but we'll take this. It's going tobe a great atmosphere. The field looks good. The field crew has beenworking hard. Game management has done a great job so far. Three verygood teams. Cal, Florida State. First time in this facility for both ofthem. Florida State came I think maybe the first or second year of theprogram and we played at Sokol. But any time you can get a Pac 10 tocome to Tuscaloosa, regardless of whether it's a regional or regularseason, it's a good thing.'

On what he's seen from his team as far as 'being tested' in the pastweek-and-a-half:

'I think Mandy (Burford) and a couple of the other seniors have done areally good job of trying to get the focus back to the old Alabama teamand just a better mindset all around. One of the best things about it iswe're at home and we were really fortunate compared to some otherschools that didn't get to host that were seeded, and I think,hopefully, we're going to use it to our advantage because it is anadvantage.'

On pitching picture:

'We're going to go over that again today with Vann (assistant coachStuedeman) and Aly (assistant coach Habitz) and try to make a decisionsoon. I think both of them, Chrissy (Owens) pitched four innings in theSEC tournament, so she should be ready to go. And Blair (Potter), Ithink is the same way. She can pitch all day long and not get tired. Andin this type of situation where it's double elimination and you couldplay quite a few games I think it's a team that is going to need somepitching depth to win it.'

Lauren Parker:

'She hit off a tee this morning, so that's good. Got some favorablereviews from (our doctors). Haven't tried defense yet so we're going todo that at practice and see how that goes with our trainer, Nick Seiler.Between him and (our medical staff) it'll be a decision---probably howshe feels, too. Two hours later she could be in a lot of pain and wedon't really want that right now.'

On possibility of putting her at the DP position:

'Yes, if all she can do it hit, that's a good thing. She's hitting .470.She hasn't hit live. We don't want to cut her off now and not have hernext week. It's a hard decision to make.'

On how it could help the team with Dani Woods and Lauren Parker bothback:

'Dani looked very good yesterday, so that was a good thing to see.'

On how you make sure the team doesn't overlook a mid-major likeTennessee Tech:

'I told them yesterday the best team in the country is Tennessee Tech.And then whoever we play the next game is the best team in the country.You've got to have a lot of respect for them. They've already beatenFlorida State. They've already beaten Nebraska. They've got some bignon-conference wins. They played Tennessee tough. They played GeorgiaTech tough. And then they won their league for I think the thirdstraight year, and it's a higher level of softball in that league.They're almost like a Missouri Valley type league that a lot of peopledon't know about but they're playing good softball.'

'I told the team Tuesday night at practice, their lead-off is BethBoden. She's got this, she's got that and she's hit 24 homeruns. I'm notsure who it was but one of the players said, 'Wow.' So even to our teamthat was very impressive. As a group we know it's tough to hit (thatmany). I think Mandy as 10, so 24 is Barry Bonds-ish.'

On appeal of this regional to fans, is it something he'd buy tickets tosee:

'Would I? Oh yeah. You've got a great mix: ACC, SEC, Pac 10, OhioValley. You don't get that every day. We try to get it in our regularseason tournaments but it doesn't work out that way. It's nice we havethat mix. In terms of RPI, adding it together, we're the second toughestof the six team regionals.'

Mandy Burford:

On getting focus back:

'We tried to kind of get our mindset back to what it's been all yearbecause as of late we weren't playing as well as we had hoped to, so wetried to focus on things we do great.'

On how it could help the team if Dani Woods and Lauren Parker are bothback this week:

'We've missed both of them being in the lineup. They've been every daystarters all year. But it also gave some other people some goodopportunity to get some solid playing time against really goodopponents. I think it gave them some confidence for the postseason thatthey can get the job done as well.'

On how players avoid overlooking a mid-major like Tennessee Tech:

'We know that Tennessee Tech is a great ball team. We've heard a lotabout them and they've had a great season and they have a really goodlineup. So we're not going to overlook anyone. We're going to take itone game at a time, and right now all our focus is on Tennessee Tech.'

On playing at home:

'It feels great to be home. We have a great crowd and we tend to playwell at home. It'll be nice to get back in front of our fans and getback in the swing.'



'We appreciate the opportunity to be in Tuscaloosa. It's a beautifulfacility. I'm sure it's going to be a first-class event. We're realproud to be here.'

On ranking this regional compared to others:

'I would say honestly this is certainly one of the strongest, if not thestrongest regionals. It seems to be our curse or our blessing, dependingupon how you look at it, the last several years we've had the goodfortune of getting into the tournament. It seems like wherever we goends up being a very strong region. It's also nice for us because we geta chance to play some teams that we don't play all the time, so it's alittle bit of a treat for the kids to get to square off against someteams that we don't play on a regular basis.'

On Alabama:

'The little bit of research that we've been able to do about them,obviously they are one of the strongest teams in the country and we knowwe're in for a real challenge, but we're going to go out there and giveit our best shot and hopefully play the game the way we are capable ofplaying and see what happens.'

On overall toughness of its regular season schedule:

'One of the things we tried to do was put together a nationallycompetitive schedule. It's one of the things that we have to do comingfrom a smaller, lesser-known conference. Before we started playing ournon-conference schedule, our RPI had a strength of schedule of like 50.I wish I could say we were still at 50 but we're not. We've beatenNebraska, beaten UMass, beaten Florida State and played 12 of the teamsthat are in the tournament, so I think we've played a pretty strongschedule.'

On pitching situation:

'We're going to start Bonnie (Bynum), and she's going to finish. Andshe's going to start the next game, and she's going to finish. And thenshe's going to pitch anything in between and she'll pitch whatever elsewe get to do. We're fortunate. Bonnie's done a great job for us. She isclearly the best pitcher that our conference has ever seen. And I thinkthat, what I learned a long time ago from my grandfather---mygrandfather taught me that you dance with the girl that you take to theprom. So we're going to dance with the girl that got us to the prom.'

On previous play in Tuscaloosa against Alabama:

'We played down here about six or seven years ago in a preseasontournament. So we're pretty familiar with the facility. That was one ofthe things that was so exciting for us to get a chance to come here andplay because it was as nice a park as I've ever seen. So we're excitedabout that part of the trip.'


On possibly feeling team has something to prove:

'Coming from a smaller conference, we've always had to prove ourselves,and I think we've done a good job in the preseason doing that with theteams that we've played. I think we're just going to come out here andplay our game and give it our best shot.'

On how she's not intimidated facing ACC, SEC & Pac 10:

'Every team can beat any team on a given day. Obviously they playstronger schedules during conference than we do, but I think any teamcan beat any team in a given day. We play our game, I think we'recapable of beating any team that's put in front of us.'

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