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June 5, 2018

Lonni Alameda

Zoe Casas

Meghan King

Elizabeth Mason

Anna Shelnutt

Sydney Sherrill

Jessie Warren

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Florida State - 8, Washington - 3

THE MODERATOR: This is the Championship Final Game 2 press conference for the national champion, Florida State Seminoles. Joined by head coach Lonni Alameda, and our student-athletes are Jessie Warren, Sydney Sherrill, "Postseason" Anna Shelnutt, Zoe Casas, Elizabeth Mason, and Meghan King.

Coach, we've talked all week about learning from mistakes, learning from failure and improving and getting better, and you guys have certainly exhibited that this year. What did you guys as a staff learn from 2014 and 2016?

LONNI ALAMEDA: I first want to congratulate the University of Washington on an amazing season. I've known Heather Tarr for a long time, and all those alumni. It's been awesome growing the game with her. So now I get emotional? I was so proud of myself. I love that program and what they stand for, so it was, again, an honor to play such a great team.

Now, as for our program, every time we come here to this stage, we learn a lot. We've done it different ways. We came up in '14, and we've seen traveling cowboy boots and we went home in our cowboy boots. It was horrible. We didn't even really know it was an experience, right? '16 we come here, we're ready to go, fired up, we tie a record with seven errors in a game. So we do different. It's one thing, you've got to do it a little bit differently and learn. And we came back and made a pretty good run, we just ran out of time.

This year, again, we had the lead, and we blew the lead. So, again, a little bit different. But we learned how to fight from the ACC Tournament on, and I give credit to the team and the girls. As much as that comes from our culture and our coaching staff, they have to buy in and they're the ones that have to implement it.

All these girls to the right, the girls on the bus heading home right now, they're the ones that made that happen. And our lesson from last year from Team 34 was to have a little more fun. Last year's team was amazing. We did everything right, but we forgot to celebrate the little things.

So this year we celebrated everything and we had a blast with it. I'm so proud of them and thankful for the lessons I learned from every team to be able to move them forward.

Q. Coach, you just mentioned a couple of things, and it seems like over the time that you all first made the trip till now, the conference got better because you all got better, and it made the competition on a weekly basis better.
Talk about the journey through the conference this season, conference tournament, and then going through the regional and then tonight?

LONNI ALAMEDA: We try to be very aggressive with our conference schedule, our preseason, pre-conference schedule. The really cool thing about the ACC right now is we've done a great job being successful, and we have a bullseye on our back. It does put a little pressure on the team to go in there and win, because everybody wants to be there. It's a different style of pressure, and it's one that we get to really identify and talk about and try to be the better team to win the series.

So we've made sure the coaching staff can sit down and we can talk about how to make the challenges and make sure our team responds from the challenges. So early on this season Travis put together a schedule that really challenged us, and we had a young group and a sense of leadership. We made some huge adjustments all season long. I just -- I honestly -- everyone kind of asked like what is the secret ingredient? I don't know. We got better every single game, even here. We got better every single game. Again, that goes to the team. So what we give them, but it's our program, their team, and they just ran with it.

Q. Coach, Lacey Waldrop, Jessica Burroughs, Meghan King, Kylee Hansen. Talk about these pitchers. And then after that, Meghan, if you could talk about what you learned from Burroughs and Waldrop?
LONNI ALAMEDA: The pitching staff throughout the years, we've just been very fortunate that we have very selfless pitchers. Our philosophy in the bullpen is we're there to pitch for the team. Doesn't matter what the score is, what the situation is. Our job is to pitch, and we can't ride the highs and lows. We've got to go out and pitch by pitch be able to compete for the team and get back in the dugout and let the players do what they need to do. They buy into that. They don't get emotional with it. We're a staff, we work as a staff.

Yes, Meghan got these games here, but Kylee was huge for us through the season. We would not be here without Kylee. Cass came in at big moments. The staff is where it's going now, too. We're so lucky our upperclassmen pitchers tell the stories of how they got to where they're at.

And I think for Kylee, what a tremendous year for her. She was a freshman and a senior at the same time, and that's really hard to balance and want to be at the World Series and want to win it. Meghan's learned so much from her experiences with Jess, and Kylee had to learn that in a short amount of time, and they've been tremendous.

MEGHAN KING: J.B. and Lacey, so they are just absolutely incredible people. J.B. has -- you said her name, and I got emotional. But she completely took me under her wing day one. Red shirting was tough, but she was there every single day. So I'm so, so lucky to have played with her. Sorry, I don't know. She's just like my best friend. But she's taught me so much, and I wish she could be here and I wish we could have done it for her last year, but so glad we did it for the program today.

Q. Jessie, this is a moment I'm sure you've seen this a million times, leading, kind of on top. What has Florida State meant to you and what's it mean to leave this program and have your last game be the school's first National Championship?
JESSIE WARREN: Yeah, I think that's everything you dream is to leave college with a W and end the season with a W. That was one of the goals. I'm so proud of this team, and this university has done so much for me. This coaching staff has taken me under their belt as their own child.

I came into this program as a kid, and I'm leaving a strong woman that wouldn't have wanted it any other way because this coaching staff cares for you as a person, not just a player. You leave this program so much better than you came into this program, and they prepare you for life.

I'm so happy I chose Florida State. And I said it before and I'll say it again, I'll bleed garnet and gold until the day I die. I love Florida State.

Q. Coach, could you talk about the decision to go with Meghan? And also what did you guys talk about that after the top of the first?
LONNI ALAMEDA: Can't repeat it, can we? Honestly, Meghan was a good match-up. A, she threw really well in the game. She's gritty. She's been there before. In reality, Travis and Craig do a great job with the hitters. So the more information we can gather on the pitchers that we see, we can put that into Game 3, and then Kylee would be completely new to them if we got to Game 3. So we kind of tipped our hand a little bit. Have Kylee go Game 2, then they'd have all the information on both our pitchers for Game 3. And Kylee would have been a good match-up for them too. Just the lefty-lefty match-up was big. And she's gritty, she sees the defense, and we take pride in that. She's the one that we gave the ball to. And we had all the pitchers ready to go, so it was good.

As for the inning, you know, I really came out and I tried to look around. Because I saw them all the time, look around, take in the atmosphere. It's big. It's a big stage. We've never been on that stage. But you know, you eye it up and you kind of look around, walk in there with a big smile and be like, hey, we're the Kardiac Kids. We need to be down by three in order to perform. This is so much fun, right? We're right where we want to be. And they laugh. We're going to hit, we're going to score. And thank God Postseason Anna did, and there we are.

But I think today we had downtime, and social media was amazing, and the people flying in was awesome for us. All of a sudden, like, oh, gosh, everyone's coming for us, and we feel that. And we're throwing balls all over the place. It was just a little out of whack for us. And Anna put us right where we needed to be. We were loose, having fun, and yeah, that was it.

Q. She's mentioned Lacey and she's mentioned J.B., both of those pitchers had moments in their careers where they turned the light on, and it completely went from very good pitcher to elite pitcher. At what point did you see that from Meghan this year? She's been great for you all year. Then maybe turned it into the best pitcher from college softball over the last three or four games?
LONNI ALAMEDA: That's so cool, huh, Meghan? (Indiscernible).

What did I see in Meghan (laughing)? I mean, it's always been there. It's always been there. It's the biggest thing, I think, honestly, to be very honest, is when Meghan and Kylee started to figure out how to work together as a staff. We've talked about that. It was hard for them in the beginning. And Meghan's competitive and Kylee's competitive, and we've been very honest with that. When they realized we're the one-one punch. We've got to get this done for the team. The maturity on their part, so it's not so much pitching in the games, it's when her maturity as a person showed up, and her responsibility of what she needs to do. I just have seen that in her big time in the last month probably.

Q. A lot has been made of your decision to leave home and come to Florida State and everything that goes into that. To have that decision, not that you need to validate it, but to do this in your first year and know it paid off in such a huge way, what's that feel like right now?
SYDNEY SHERRILL: It feels amazing. This is a dream come true for me and my team. We knew we could do it. But we really fought this whole entire tournament really. It's been so incredible. I really can't describe it. I'm just so happy to be here. I really am.

Q. Coach, the other day you and I talked about an everyday catcher. Before I go to the catcher, talk about what it's meant and what did you see early on during the season that that was the person you were going to put in the backstop?
LONNI ALAMEDA: Well, we knew it last year. We knew. We recruited her to be our catcher. We're fortunate we had an amazing catcher in Syd Broderick last year, so the experience that Syd could give Anna last year has made Anna the catcher she is. But her mindset and selflessness to be the catcher and the way she receives and her relationships, she's goofy. To be goofy and be able to handle the pitchers, like she's relaxed. Like we said, she's separated a season-long of hitting and the highs and lows. She came through huge for us at the plate today, and she did behind the plate what she always does. I'm so proud of her because she's -- she came here for this. She loves it. Like I said before, the people in the recruiting process said she'd never been a big-time player because of her height and because of things. We talked about that, and she's really capitalizing on that.

ANNA SHELNUTT: Sorry, what was the original question?

Q. What did Coach see in you? You caught every game, whether it was lefty or right, making the adjustments and (indiscernible)?
ANNA SHELNUTT: I think being recruited, it was wild for me because obviously I've been told by schools that I was too small to catch, and that should have put a damper on me, but it didn't. Coach, T-Wil, Snider, they all saw me half my height. I was small back then, I was really small. And they saw past, and they saw I could be more than just a big, intimidating catcher; that I actually knew what I was doing back there and that I loved it. And they liked me for what I love to do. They didn't try to make me be anything that I wasn't going to be.

Q. I'm sure you had a vision of what this program could be when you took the job. But a gradual build, the three (indiscernible) and now to have reached the pinnacle, what's it mean to have taken this program to these heights?
LONNI ALAMEDA: It's something that Travis, Craig, and I have been talking about for a long time. We're talking about growing the game. The only way the game is going to get better is more contributors to being champions. We wanted to show that our conference could do it; that kids that love playing the game could go to different conferences and play at high levels. And they took a chance on us and the dream to be here. People contact us because they want to play in a National Championship game, and that's what we want to teach and coach. To be told you could only be in other conferences and now we've come through and you can go to the ACC and play at different schools. You know, we're the guiding flag, you know. We're the flag bearer for the conference, and that means so much. That means so much to the girls for the game.

On top of that, we really tried to -- culture is such a big part, and loving your team is such a big (indiscernible). I think a lot of programs get caught up in the business side of it, and we tried to keep it real.

It's so neat these kids took it to another level as a family the last two weeks, and that makes us really proud.

Q. This question is for any of the players, particularly the one that's haven't spoken much. But what was it like having family and friends out on the field and I guess reflecting on the journey that's taken you guys to this point? Just if you could talk about the emotions a little bit?
ELIZABETH MASON: It's unreal to start. Me and my family, softball has been life forever. It's always been softball. When I was in middle school, my dad used to wake me up at 6:00 a.m. to go to gym before class started just so I could hit balls then. It really hit me today when I looked up and saw my dad and my mom, they're jumping up and down. I'm sure every girl on the team, you have that moment where all you want to do -- you love your team, but all you want to do is see your parents. Even the coaches, they're basically my parents. I was begging them to take a picture with me after the game. I got the picture.

But, yeah, it's unreal to be here. I'm so thankful for this coaching staff. I'm so thankful for my parents and my sisters.

ZOE CASAS: Yeah, being from California, both my parents made the trip out here. It was great seeing them down there. My mom even pulled up my T-ball picture, and I was like, How do you have this? It was crazy. Like from then to now, it's been such an amazing journey. And I had family drive through Louisiana. They went through two tornados last night just to get here. It's so great having family all over this place. Just having them here supporting me throughout this whole journey has been so crazy.

I'm so thankful for my team and my second family of Coach, and Coaches T-Bone and Snider. Couldn't be more thankful.

Q. This is for any of the players, but especially when you get to the fifth or sixth inning and you have an 8-3 lead, is it more of a relaxed environment out there or a fight to the end?
JESSIE WARREN: I think starting in postseason we really bought into the one-pitch mentality. We didn't take a pitch off. Although we did have the 8-3 lead, still one pitch can change this game. Washington's still in this game. They have X amount of outs and they could come back still. So we have to focus on this one pitch and stay in it because the moment you let up on the momentum, it carries away.

So I think the girls and myself did a really good job taking those breathers when we needed the breathers, taking a step back and soaking it all in and having fun.

But, yeah, we kept that one-pitch mentality the whole tournament and the whole week.

SYDNEY SHERRILL: Being young, I think, Game 1, the last inning I was super, super excited and jumping around. The older girls brought me in and told me to take a breath. That's what we did. Every inning throughout this game is come in and take a breather. Just kind of focus on that one pitch, like Jessie was saying, and it really helped for me. I was so happy. Yeah, it helped.

MEGHAN KING: Yeah, I definitely -- when you're eyeing up your infield and just kind of seeing what's in front of you, what the lead is, and kind of looking at each other and saying it's time for a breath, just eyeing up and getting in and looking at each other and embracing the moment and just embracing the lead and just kind of slowing the game down one breath at a time, so I think that really helped just kind of embrace the moment.

Q. There are a lot of alumni and people you've coached over the years from different schools that have been here and wanted to be here for this program and this team. For you to see kind of memory lane or whatever the case may be from your time to culminate in this moment, how special was that for you?
LONNI ALAMEDA: Yeah, it's somewhat overwhelming. I was doing well. I went to the University of Oklahoma, so my teammates when I played, my strength coach yelling at me, Lonni, we're here supporting you. It was like holy schmoly, that was a couple years ago. You know. Yeah. And just Coach Mendoza comes down and the whole Stanford family, they've been tweeting and sending messages. And the UNLV girls. You learn so much as a coach from people and the administration, and just the opportunities. So the big thing was just to give it. You just want to give everything. I'm just so thankful that they're still wanting to be a part of this because they know what it's all about. So that was really, really special to have them all here and see them.

Sara Pickering, I coached with her. She's a Washington alum. Every inning they're over there pointing at me. Like her and Jen, they're pointing at me. But there is an appreciation for sport. They know how we do it, they know they we do it, and it was really cool.

I just want to thank Stan Wilcox and Ramona. Our Florida State family, we roll deep. It's so cool. Vanessa and Cindy. It's been so awesome. President Thrasher, I know he'd be here if he could. He was on the phone right away. He's in the dugout rounding us up. It's just so neat, and the alumni. And NCAA, and everybody was awesome here. You guys are awesome. The experience, for these kids to earn this moment and have this platform and everyone have such a professional, amazing moment for these girls to appreciate this, I thank you all for that.

It was a really cool experience for these girls who work really hard. So thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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