Rodrigues: 'We never think we'll lose'

May 29, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - Cal first baseman Roni Rodrigues hit her fourth home run of the season in a 4-2 win over Florida State on Thursday in the Golden Bears' second game of the Women's College World Series. The only senior on the softball team, Rodrigues transferred to Cal after playing two years at Sacramento State. She started a career-high 58 games this season.

The Antioch product spoke to from Oklahoma City, Okla., where the Bears enjoyed Saturday off after beating the host Sooners, 2-1, on Friday night.

Q) When teammates commit errors, as Chelsea Spencer and Haley Woods did against Oklahoma, what do you say to them later in the dugout?

'You just got to reassure them that the next play will be a great play. You've got to express confidence in them. We're all only human. We all make mistakes. You've got to pick them up. I truly believe that every person out there is the best at their position.'

Q) Did your team get down when Oklahoma tied the game after your team's two errors?

'No, we kept fighting. We've been down two runs before. Even in the Florida State game we fought back. We're just as good as any other team out there. It's incredible the fight and resiliency we have. We never think we'll lose. We'll never roll over. That's what I love about this team - we have a bunch of fighters.'

Q) You joined Cal as a junior in 2002 and then red-shirted last season after having shoulder surgery. How does it feel to have a contributing role in this World Series as a fifth-year senior?

'It feels awesome, especially coming off shoulder surgery. I was doubtful how I'd come back. I might be worse. But I put in the time and energy, in the weight room, sweating out rehab. That all makes a difference. I came into fall ball fairly confident in my arm. I knew I could contribute.

'The injury came from overuse. I shredded my labrum and my rotator cuff. When I got to Cal my junior year, I was thinking, My arm doesn't feel as strong. What the heck? Finally I got an MRI and the worst news, that I had to have surgery. The doctors were surprised I was throwing on it then. The only way to play again was to have surgery on it. I wasn't expecting to be in college five years, to be on the five-year plan. Nobody expects that. That was an adjustment with the injury. It's been great. [Coach] Diane [Ninemire] has been patient and very optimistic with me and very positive.

'It's been an awesome experience. With the World Series, it's been a culmination of a lot of great things. A really sour experience has turned into a really great one.'

Q) What was the pitch like on the home run you hit against Florida State?

'I just remember it was pretty sweet, pretty fat. It was out over the middle, a little up. Out over the plate. I was lucky enough to get a good solid part of the ball on right part of the bat. It's crazy - home runs happen when you least expect it. I was at the right place at the right time. I got the right pitch at the right time.'

Q) Is your family there in Oklahoma City?

'I have a lot of people here. It went from one extreme to another. A few years ago there were none; now I have six relatives out there, including my mom, dad, sister and a couple of aunts. My really good friend is out here too. It's my last World Series appearance. It's nice to have everyone out here.'

Q) Does the team have a nickname for you since you're the oldest player on the team?

'They call me grandma, even though I'm only a year older than some of the girls on the team. Also because of the injury, you have your aches and pains, some of the girls call me grandma. It's all in fun.'

Q) What are you going to do on your day off today?

'We're doing a light-hitting practice today, then maybe I'll catch a movie. I'm going to watch a couple innings of the Washington-Florida State game. I have some good friends on Washington's team. We'll keep a low profile and stay out of the weather. We'll stay away from the tornadoes.'

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