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May 31, 2018

Patty Gasso

Shay Knighten

Paige Lowary

Paige Parker

Lea Wodach

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Washington 2, Oklahoma 0

THE MODERATOR: Joined by head Coach Patty Gasso, Paige Parker, Shay Knighten, Lea Wodach and Paige Lowary.

Coach Gasso, from your standpoint, what made Gabbie Plain so successful today?

PATTY GASSO: Well, she's very good, hard breaking drop-ball, different speed. She's tough. Worked a lot early in the count, looked good in the strike zone, very poised. Did a very good job.

Q. It looked like on the play in the 6th that she dove and the ball popped out. What did you see from your vantage and what were you told?
PATTY GASSO: It was hard for me to see from where I was but any time Coach Lombard I goes running out to something, I know that she sees something that I don't, so I jumped in on that. I saw the ball come out after it looked like maybe she made the catch but I don't know.

I don't know what -- they said that it was a 100 percent clean catch right to me. That's what the umpire said -- like I'm 100 percent sure that she made the catch, and the transfer is when the ball came out. That was what I was told.

Q. Paige, you've faced adversity before, what's going through your mind walking off the field?
PAIGE PARKER: Losing is never fun but I know how much fight our team has and how much heart that we have, and you know, I fully believe that this team can do anything, and so just having so much faith and trust in each other, I know losing is not fun, but I know we're going to come out strong our next game, and you know, bounce back from this.

Q. Shay, can you talk a little about the hit in the 6th? They put in a different pitcher and you made really good contact, just what you saw there, and Lea, you were one of the few hitters to get two balls out of the infield today. What were you seeing? Why was it such a tough day for the hitters?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: Well, for me it was just going in there with a mindset of I'm not going to get beat. Just see the ball, hit the ball, try to make something happen and make a play. We had runners in scoring position, so just something I could hit hard, trying to get their defense off guard, make an error, anything. She made a good catch, whether it was a catch or not. I just did what I could and that's what it was.

LEA WODACH: It was a tough day for the hitters. I think Gabbie did a really good job. Hats off to her, she threw a great game and we can't walk away without saying that. But just for myself, I was trying to be all in with my playing and whatever I was doing and trusting what I was doing up there and being confident in that and not doubting myself or doubting my own ability.

Q. In the sixth inning, you came back in. It hasn't been often that you've re-entered the game this season. Can you take me through that sixth inning and what your mentality was in that moment?
PAIGE PARKER: Coming back in, it was just shut-down mode, do whatever I had to do to not let them score. Defense, she made a great play on that ball and it was just having Paige's back and being in complete shut-down mode and being as tough as I could.

Q. What went into the decision of bringing Paige Parker out of the game and inserting her back in?
PATTY GASSO: It was a lead-off walk, which wasn't really the necessary -- Paige was already up into the 70s with her pitch count. This is not anything uncommon. We've done it all the time. It was almost expected.

So we stand behind the decision and I think both of these pitchers threw well. Quite honestly, our defense did not -- the pitching staff did well enough to win, our defense and our hitters were not there today.

Q. Could you talk about the hitters, because you guys were swinging is so free and easy, scoring runs seemingly at will in the regional and super regional. How do you recapture that heading into the weekend?
PATTY GASSO: I know this might sound crazy, but this road was meant to be for us and we embrace it. We've been very fortunate to win the first game the last couple years, and it sets you up nicely but this road is a different road this year and we're embracing this.

We are good at learning lessons. When we have had our losses, we've bounced back in a very, very strong way. So maybe this is necessary. And I have to tell you how impressed I was with Washington and their defense. The left side of the field was off the charts. They were outstanding and those are the kind of plays that you need to make to win championships and they did.

Man, they were really, really, really impressive. We learned. We watched. We weren't a victim of it. But we learned and we take it, and when we find, when we lose games, this team bounces back like no one I've ever seen, so this road is different, but it’s welcomed, because this group has it in them to make a run, as long as we have one pitch left, one out left, we're going for it with all we got, which we didn't necessarily look like we were doing today.

Q. We just heard it from coach, but amongst you girls, what was the message in the locker room afterward?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: It was just what Coach said, just bounce back. We know we can bounce back. Like she said, this road, it's not going to be easy. Everyone's gunning to win the national championship, and we just kind of put our heads together and said, you know what, this is not how we want to go out.

We want to go out with everything that we have on the field and if they beat us, they beat us, but it's not going to be because we didn't try. We want to finish this strong and we want to get back to where we know we can be. It's just having the will to fight and wanting what we want and not being afraid to go for it.

Q. Can you go through the play that was Washington's first run, seemed like you -- your toss was a little wide, and just your experience in the circle, very few balls in the infield but a lot of people reached base.
PAIGE LOWARY: On the play at home, I just released it a little too late. I don't really have anything else to say about that.

But I guess it was just not my day, and Paige (Parker) really had my back today which was awesome. We have all had games that we have struggled this season and another pitcher comes in and shuts it down, so it's a really big testament to her, and I'm really happy that she came and did that and we're just not going to take that -- I'm not going to take how I did today into any other games. Every day is a new game and it's double elimination for a reason.

Q. Shay, having said the defense struggled today and it wasn't the way it's normally been, what do you diagnose as the defense's problem this afternoon?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: I wouldn't say there was necessarily a problem. I would just say like we weren't getting what we wanted. We know we're a good defense. We've just got to come out and make those plays that we know we can make. It wasn't our day. It's not necessarily a problem but just one of those days.

Q. Did you feel like there was an attitude change after the games with Alabama, facing elimination?
LEA WODACH: I mean, yeah, definitely it puts you -- it just puts you on your toes and makes you kind of -- not going to say that we weren't awake and ready for today but it’s just a wakeup call.

You have one game left and that's -- our goal is not to go 0-and-2 two, so yeah, the attitude changes a little bit and you look back and see like you just don't want to have any regrets and you don't want to go away thinking I could have done this or I could have done that better.

Just kind of brings everyone together and gives you a choice to either face it head on or turn the other way and go out how you don't want to go out. It's just us making a choice together that we are going to face the challenge head on and not be afraid?

PAIGE PARKER: I agree with everything Lea said. It's just about -- just making a change mentally and just being ready to go out on the field and give it your all and leave nothing out there.

Q. Brooke had an article about it today, but the key around your neck, could you explain what that means to you?
LEA WODACH: It's just we were talking about just as a team about kind of the keys, having the keys to success, and believing in that and just it comes from a verse in the Bible. It talks about how God saying that He has the secret and He has the keys, we took that, like in the Big 12 tournament, when we weren't doing very well it was just a thing that we started doing and stuck with it.

It's just become a thing for our team. We are a largely faith-based team, not everyone on our team is, but a lot of us believe in that and it's something to grab on to and make it bigger than ourselves and to glorify God in what we're doing.

Q. You said you had not been in this position much recently. Tomorrow, an off-day, do you grind, go escape at the mall or what do you do to flip the script?
PATTY GASSO: I'll be checking in with them and see what they want to do. It's a needed day off to refocus, get prepared for what we've got next, and from this point on, it comes at you fast, so you have to be pretty prepared because it comes fast, so we are just going to meet as a group and figure out what it is to help them be their best on Saturday and play as long as we can.

Q. On the play in right field, maybe you have nothing more to add, but did they mention whether it was glove to hand or hand to glove? Looked like her right hand kept it from coming out of the glove originally. Does a game like this show that you need something to go your way? And I'm thinking of Paige Lowary's difficult inning, a sacrifice, bunt single, the ball is not even getting back to her -- anyway.
PATTY GASSO: First question, they were not as detailed as any of that. He just looked right at him and said, are you 100 percent sure that that ball was caught, and he said, I am 100 percent sure.

How am I going to change that call? There's nothing I can do unless we had some instant replay, which we don't. That's another subject for another time.

Now the other one was? I think these two pitchers didn't do anything wrong. Some balls we could make plays on and some we just couldn't. They will tell you this and I'll tell you this, honestly, we were flat. We were just flat today in certain areas of the game.

But yes, you do need a little bit of luck. If that ball fell, and we scored two, we might not be the first one coming in to talk to you. I mean, who knows? That's how this game works at this level. You've got to hope that things work out, fall for you, but not that Washington was lucky. They executed short game very well and it was hard to get to those.

And why it's hard is because they not only short game but they swing. So you play them up, you play them back. They are three-dimensional, the top and bottom of the lineup, so it's very difficult to defend that.

Q. We know Gabbie had a really good game but how did the entrance of Alvelo affect the tone of the game?
PATTY GASSO: I don't think it affected us at all. We were prepared for both, so it wasn't a surprise. It wasn't, oh, my goodness. It was, let's go, let's find a way to get on. Doesn't matter who you put on the mound. We knew it was late in the game and what we did that was good was we put ourselves in a position to at least tie the game.

There was, in the sixth, with that ball that could have dropped but we were in a position to go ahead in the game. So although I think they will tell you this wasn't one of the better games, they were still putting themselves in the position to at least tie or find a way to go ahead. I don't even know if I answered your question.

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