Woods: 'We're the best team in the country when we play our game'

May 20, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - Haley Woods, the sophomore catcher for the No. 2-ranked Cal softball team, leads the Golden Bears in homeruns (16), RBIs (56), total bases (112) and slugging percentage (.644). She's also batting .310 after last weekend's wins in Oregon. Woods spoke to CalBears.com yesterday by telephone from Lincoln, Neb., where the Bears will begin play today in Region 5 of the NCAA Softball Tournament.

Q) Did you expect to do so well in your first year as the starting catcher?

'There were a lot of expectations for me coming in. There were the comparisons between Courtney [Scott] and I. She is a phenomenal catcher. I felt pressure coming into this year. Once I caught a few games and got some experience under my belt, I began enjoying it. I was pleased with the way I caught this year. There's obvious room for improvement, but it was a great season and a great learning experience.'

Q) What was your best game this season, in the batter's box and behind the plate?

'Probably my Oregon State game. I hit two homeruns in my first two at-bats and [pitcher] Kelly [Anderson] threw a good game. It seemed to me and for the rest of the team that everything was clicking.'

Q) Have you had any injuries this season?

'No, I've been relatively healthy. I have a torn labrum in my [right] throwing shoulder, but it's pretty good. I've been getting my shoulder rolfed, which is deep tissue massage. That's been a huge difference to me. It hasn't been bothering me the last couple months.'

'I'm not sure how I injured it. It was fine last year. It must've been in the summer or early in fall. It was hurting in the fall, and it didn't get better over the break. I had an MRI, which showed I had a torn labrum. It's pretty common in baseball and softball. Hopefully it won't amount to surgery. It's been doing really well lately.'

Q) Cal's reached the College World Series championship game two straight years. Is that something you as a team expects this year, that you'll return to the final?

'When you're a player and a coach, every time you're on the field you want to win every game. At the beginning of the year, one of the team's goals was to win the national championship. We've been to the championship game two years in a row. Everybody's hungry to have a national championship, and we know it's within our grasp. It's expected.

'I do think we're the best team in the country when we play our game. There's nobody in this country we can't beat, if we don't beat ourselves.'

Q) What do you know about your first opponent, Maine?

'I was just looking through the program today. I didn't know the Maine program existed before the tournament selection show. I hadn't heard anything about them. But they did something right to get here. There are a lot of great teams sitting at home right now. We respect every opponent we play. I'm sure they're a great team.'

Q) Besides Cal, which teams have the best chance to win the College World Series?

'Obviously UCLA and Arizona are the first two that come to everybody's mind. We know what we're getting into with them. There are teams like Tennessee we haven't seen or played this year. They're being led by a dominant pitcher. Florida State we haven't seen or played. Obviously there's LSU, who we split with. They're a great team. I wouldn't be surprised if they won the World Series. There's us, LSU, Florida State, UCLA, Arizona. It's so competitive among the top 15 teams that anyone can win it.'

Q) Is your team playing its best softball of the season right now, considering you're on an eight-game winning streak with wins over some ranked competition?

'We had spurts throughout the year where we were playing to our capabilities, but with the recent wins against Arizona State and Washington and UCLA and, last weekend, the Oregon schools, we're peaking at the right time. This season we had tendencies to have the offense on and the pitching not there, or have the pitching there and have errors defensively. The last eight games we really put it together, and we hope to put it together in regionals and hopefully in the World Series.'

Q) Have you been to Nebraska before?

'This is my first time to Nebraska.'

Q) What do you think of Lincoln?

'It's kind of boring. There's not all that much to do. It's hot and humid, not like California. It's not like Northern Calfiornia, that's for sure. The facilities are really nice, though. I wish we had facilities like this.'

Q) Are you disappointed that your team, which is the tournament's No. 1 seed, is not hosting a regional and that you're playing at a regional hosted by the No. 2 seed, Nebraska?

'It is frustrating, and that's why it's so important getting Bear Backers and Cal to see we need to have our own stadium up to par. We lose a lot of recruits that way. And as a player, to sleep in own bed is to your advantage when you get this far.'

'But having said that, we probably play better on the road, because we're so used to it, compared to UCLA and Arizona, teams that play a lot at home. We're a stronger team on the road than any other team right now.'

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