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Rachel Lawson: “I feel really good about where we are at.”

Rachel Lawson shakes hands with Oregon coach Mike White before the start of Saturday’s game. (Oregon Athletics Photo)

Oregon 11, Kentucky 1

KENTUCKY

Rachel Lawson, Head Coach

Opening Statement …

“First I want to congratulate Oregon on a great Super Regionals and a great postseason up to this point. They have done a great job. I know that they are ready to go to Oklahoma City. I also want to comment on what a tremendous job this school has done on creating such an incredible fan base. I don’t remember what the number was for Regionals and Super Regionals, they said it on the loud speaker, but that’s a legitimate number. For someone who has been doing this for a long time, to see this kind of fan base at a college is awesome. It wasn’t too long ago that we were begging for this many people to come to the World Series and to see it on a college campus here in Oregon is really cool.”

On what happened in the second inning …

“I just don’t think we stopped them. The postseason always comes down to pitching and defense. I think we had a crucial defensive mistake that put one of the best home run hitters in the country up with bases loaded, so we had no where to put her. That’s what good players do; they capitalize on their opportunities. I think she did an exceptional job of doing that and she showed why she is one of the best home run hitters to play this game.”

On strategy difference if it was Kleist or Elish …

“It didn’t change our approach at all. We were anticipating both of them. I think that the thing that has to happen in the postseason is hitters have to be really good at adjusting and adjusting to whoever the pitcher is. There are some pitchers in the country who can throw instead of having two of them, like Rachael Garcia, they can do a lot of things at one time. You have to make sure that within your approach you can make those adjustments the box. We would have pretty much planned the same way, we would have made those adjustments in the box because obviously Miranda throws a little bit harder, and so you approach is a tiny bit different. You want to put it on the field or what you’re looking to attack. For the most part, it would have been a similar approach.”

On what makes Oregon as good as they are …

“It’s their pitching. Their hitters are great. They do a very nice job. They have a good approach. It really helps, you can see, this is a great field. It’s a great complex. I think as they head out to Oklahoma City, if they could take these fans with them, I think that it would be really cool. The thing that they do really well is they play well on their field. If you throw them a drop ball they pound it in the ground, they pound it over your head or they pound it in the middle. If you throw them a higher pitch they can put it in the outfield. I think that they are very versatile. They can do a lot of different things. I think that they are well suited to make a run at the National Championship.”

On how Oregon differs from last season …

“I will say one thing about them that I thought was cool coming back; their strength and condition program has got to be awesome. When we saw Kleist take the mound on Thursday, she looks dramatically different. The amount of work that she had to put in in the weight room and all of the reps and all of the things that she did I think has to be tremendous. So I do believe there is a story there for their athletic department.

“As far as we’re concerned, I feel really good about where we are at. Last year at this time, our offense wasn’t putting up any runs. We weren’t doing a very good job of that and we made it the team mission to get a lot better at that. We had a dramatic improvement on the offensive side of things. That’s what you saw when you saw us in Regionals. We did something that only three teams in the country have ever done, which is really cool.

“Once we made a shift, we made a great run at the postseason and that is great for us, to be able to go through our home regions as well as we did was awesome. I feel good.

“We are always a pitching and defense school. It didn’t show tonight, but that’s mostly because of the youth and coming up against such an awesome Oregon offense. I feel good about the pitchers that we have in our program and the pitchers coming into the program. And then always we are going to play great defense. I believe that games like this, while I’m disappointed that we didn’t win, there are only a few schools in the country that can make it to Supers.

“We have made it to Supers six times in the last 10 years. So, since I’ve been at Kentucky, we’ve made Supers six times and we’ve made the World Series one time. I think that that is a pretty good thing considering the size of Kentucky and where we were at before our coaching staff and go there and all of the players we brought in. I feel great about them and I feel great about the alumni and I’m looking forward to instead of saying we’ve been at Supers six times in the last 10 years, I want to do something similar to Oregon, where I can say we’ve been to the World Series that many times.”

Brooklin Hinz, Senior, Outfield

On hitting a homer for her last time at bat …

“To be honest, when I was on the on deck circle, I’m a firm believer in the softball Gods. I thought, obviously with the score as is, this is my last at bat; let’s just end it on a bang. Miranda had my number yesterday. They had my number all weekend. I didn’t have any hints before, so I was like let’s just do it. I fouled out the first one, and I knew that she was going to hit a change-up. I talked to coach. I’ve never hit a change-up over. It has taken me four years to do it. That was another goal. I had to hit a change-up over at least once. The fact that I was able to stay back on it, felt really good.”

Jenny Schaper, Junior, Catcher

On what she saw out of Miranda Elish …

“I think she pretty much brought the same approach that she did yesterday, but I think we had a chance to hit this morning and we really focused on what we didn’t do last night and how we could change that. I think our offense did better. We put a lot more hard balls in play; we just unfortunately didn’t have the chance to extend the game.”

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