Checking In With Coach Rittman
May 22, 2008
Under the guidance of 12th-year Head Coach John Rittman, Stanford will be making its third NCAA Super Regional appearance this weekend, taking on Texas A&M at the Aggie Softball Complex in College Station, Texas beginning Saturday. Since taking the reins of the team in July 1996, Rittman has taken Stanford to the postseason 11 consecutive times, and led the team to two appearances in the Women's College World Series. Stanford won the Amherst Regional last weekend, and now will battle Texas A&M in a three-game series for a trip back to the WCWS. Here's what Coach Rittman had to say about the upcoming weekend.
What does the team need to do this weekend to be successful against Texas A&M?
'I think the biggest things we need to do this weekend are come out and play our game, limit our mistakes, and hold our composure with their crowd. We need to pitch well, we need to play defense and we need to get the timely hits when we get runners in scoring position.'
What did you focus on in practice this week in preparation for this weekend's games?
'We didn't change a whole lot. We stuck with our routine. We like to hit everyday, so we were hitting live and doing our base-running stuff. We have a defensive review that we go through before every weekend series, so we made sure to get our reps in and give the players time to take care of their business off the field so we could get ready to travel.'
Will having so many upperclassmen, who have played in a Super Regional before, be important to the team this weekend?
'Most definitely. The more experience you've had going through postseason, the better you're going to be. We told our upperclassmen to try to relate what it's going to be like to our younger players. I think experience is a huge factor any time you go into postseason. When you have people that don't know what to expect, they can draw from the older players' experience, especially in the Super Regional setting.'
What do you see in this year's team that is similar to the Stanford teams that have made it to the World Series?
'I think one of the common elements of those teams is team chemistry. Obviously winning helps team chemistry, but it takes certain leaders on the team to bring the team together. I think this group of seniors and upperclassmen have done a great job of building team chemistry through hard work, through practice, through off the field activities and I think it shows in our play and in our travel. We've traveled four straight weekends and our team is so good about it - there's no complaining, there haven't been any issues, they've been taking care of their business off the field with their academics and managing their time wisely. They had very productive practices so as a coach it's been really pleasant to be around them.'