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June 15, 2018
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Gary Henderson, Mike Fox, Pat Casey and Lindsay Meggs. Pat, an opening statement.
COACH CASEY: Congratulations. I know how difficult it is to get here, not only coaches up here now but those on the other side of the bracket.
I'm honored to represent Oregon State University. I'm thankful for the players who continue to give me a vacation here in Omaha. They're the ones who actually play the game and make this thing work. And I give them all the credit.
And it's what the city of Omaha, what the committee and all those around this championship event do is phenomenal. And there's never a year I've been here where I haven't thought that. So I appreciate it. Thank you from all of us.
COACH FOX: We're unbelievably excited to be back here. I concur with Pat. Your kids, they give us a ride as coaches, and this team has done that for me and our staff, special group. I'm happy for them.
And the city of Omaha, it's a special place for sure. You can just feel it when you touch down here. It's exciting to be back, and do congratulate the other coaches that are here.
It's always been difficult to get here, but it's even harder and harder. So I feel very blessed to be here with my club.
COACH HENDERSON: It is. It's hard to get here. And I appreciate it a lot getting here. Gotta give a lot of credit to our kids. They jumped on board. We obviously had a very unique experience that you're all familiar with. Our families got on board. Tremendous appreciation of our fan base.
They travel with us. They're there every step of the way. It's been a great ride for us. Really, really appreciate my assistant coaches and what they've allowed me to do, and appreciate our kids a lot. We're really excited to be here.
COACH MEGGS: Want to congratulate all the coaches that are sitting here today. And the other four that on the other side of the bracket, we're the new kids in town and we're experiencing everything for the first time. And I don't know that our feet have touched the ground yet. But we're really excited to be here.
We're grateful to everybody at the University of Washington who has helped us get to this point. It's been a long time coming for our program and a lot of hard work. And I want to personally thank the people behind the scenes who don't get the attention that we do, but from the academic folks to all the alums that have believed in us and pushed hard enough to get us here.
And like I said, we're grateful to be here, and we're really excited to start playing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I wanted to see if I could have each of you say who your starter is going to be tomorrow.
COACH CASEY: Luke Heimlich.
COACH FOX: Gianluca Dalatri.
COACH HENDERSON: Ethan Small.
COACH MEGGS: Joe DeMers.
Q. Pat, you have a core group of veterans that have been very successful. Has there been something about this group that set them apart and allowed them to have that kind of success?
COACH CASEY: Obviously being veterans, that's one of the keys some of these kids have obviously been here some three years, some four. Talked about it today, seven kids graduating and we're going to have to put a little ceremony on them, because we were in finals week last week.
I think we have a lot of kids that have returned. Good on-the-field leadership. Certainly talented young men when they came. But a lot of guys that like to do it the way we like to do it.
Q. Pat, just thinking forward to Sunday, kind of featurery, but you've got Joe here, John here, Brett back in '09. To have your boys here and a father-and-son type of sport and that big day to celebrate father's day with them what does that mean to you simply?
COACH CASEY: First of all, that's the greatest question I've ever been asked. Thank you. You are my champion.
I got to spend Father's Day here with my dad a couple of times. And he's not here this weekend. But being a coach I think everybody would tell you that there's times you don't get to experience some things with your children that you wished you had.
When I first started coaching, I missed a lot of time with those guys. And I'm absolutely blessed. I can't think thank the Lord enough for gifting me with a wife and children. And I don't know if I could tell you how much it means to me. So I'll just leave it at that. But thank you for the question.
Q. Coach Henderson, the SEC this year had expanded replay, had the headsets. Wonder, did you like those or are there any or all of that that you would like to see expanded into the NCAA postseason?
COACH HENDERSON: Two separate things with catchers and expanded replay. I liked them both. I think we should continue forward with both of them, and I think that we need to streamline the instant replay.
Q. Gary, how cool is it for you to have two Oregonians sitting up there on the stage right now?
COACH HENDERSON: Well, most of the time when I get together with Case, it's laughter, which I think is hard for some people to quite understand when you're looking at us in this venue.
But Case will tell you I have an outstanding sense of humor. (Laughter).
And so does he. But it's awesome. We spent one miserable year together. And then we spent four years getting better and putting something in place that he has been able to be proud of and build on.
In a real small way I feel a piece of that. And Case knows that, I've shared it with him. Proud to be an Oregonian, proud of Mississippi State. Proud of every place I have ever coached. Very proud to be at Mississippi State. But there's always a part of me that will always be an Oregonian, and really proud of what Case has been able to do.
Q. I asked this question to the coaches this morning, for all of you, talk about the ballpark can play big sometimes. So the question is for all of you, talk about your outfield, what you like about it, the strengths as far as how they help contribute defensively to help you win ballgames?
COACH MEGGS: We've been on the field for 50 minutes. So we experienced the ballpark earlier today during batting practice and that was really it. But we think we're pretty athletic in the outfield. And we think while we may not be the most athletic team in the group out there, the size of the ballpark is not going to hurt us. I think it will help us.
We're able to put three guys out there in the game if we want to pitch and play defense to finish that we'll be comfortable with. So we're not afraid of it. We think it might work for us, and we'll watch every inning of the first game tomorrow and see how the wind is blowing and go from there.
COACH HENDERSON: I agree with what Lindsay said. A lot of that. We're athletic in the outfield. We have an extremely good centerfielder. We run well in the corners. I'll be interested to see how it plays early in the day tomorrow. The wind was coming in pretty good today.
The ball got out down the left field line. Other than that, it was pretty tough. You're going to have to find a balance of how deep you want to play in a big ballpark, and you have to find that ball so you don't get beat in front a bunch.
COACH FOX: We like our three outfielders. They all three can run a little bit. And you're going to need that out here probably.
The ballpark is what it is, and it's going to be interesting certainly how it plays. We've seen a number of ways since we have been out here, but outfield play is extremely important here, and I'll agree with Gary that where you play your outfielders and how deep and how shallow is going to be a factor I would think.
COACH CASEY: We're going to play the three guys we play all the time. I guess we rotate a little bit out in left. But it is what it is. And the wind doesn't blow quite as much as it does in Corvallis like it's apparently going to blow tomorrow. So we'll see.
Q. Pat and Mike, because of your experience in this event in particular, can you share any memories or enduring moments that you have of Augie Garrido in this year, this first CWS, after his passing and what -- Pat, I know your first CWS was his last championship as a coach. So maybe start with that. And, Mike, I don't know if you have memories of your encounters with him here in Omaha?
COACH CASEY: Yeah, my first trip to the College World Series was '05 and Texas won it. I actually sat right next to Augie in this format. And he said to the people in Texas believe the season starts in Omaha. I laughed at it because it's my first trip there.
I was fortunate. I was a player in a Regional that Augie was a coach. I did ESPN's Fog Augie (phonetic) that year and I'm walking into the hotel, and there's a guy sitting outside on the bench in street clothes, and it's Augie. I said, Augie, what the heck are you doing here? He said, Wishing what you were doing. But he said, I'm here to speak to a Little League team. I said, Wow. I got to see Augie last year in the College World Series.
So obviously his record and what he stands for speaks for itself.
COACH FOX: I was fortunate to coach against Augie out here. I did not know him personally, but was somewhat in awe of him and his legacy and what he had done. I mean, he's one of the icons in our profession. And unbelievable respect for him. So it was an honor for me at the time. I wish I was able to spend more time with him.
COACH HENDERSON: My first introduction to Augie was in 1984 in Fresno at the Regional. Back then, 32 teams, four-team Regional. And we beat them, a game I started, we beat them. It wasn't because of me. We ended up winning late.
The next day we lost in either 10 or 11, and they got to go to Omaha and win it and we went home. That was my first introduction. And before that I played with some kids from Cal State Fullerton the previous summer, so I had a good idea about their feelings and impression and their love of Augie.
And then when I was at Chapman for three years, we would go over and we'd play Augie. And I got introduced to that, and of course you learn a lot playing him quickly.
And I had a lot of respect for Augie and spent some time with him through the course of the years, but not a lot.
COACH MEGGS: I spoke to Coach Garrido in January. Tried to get him lined up to speak at our First Pitch dinner this coming February, and he was so great about his schedule. So great about the impact I thought he could make on our program and the families that attend that event.
And every time you're trying to line something like that up, there is typically a fee for a speaker and there's typically travel issues and I've got to have this at a hotel, I've got to have this type of flight. And he said, All I need from you is a guarantee that your guys are going to listen and have a chance to make a difference and I can affect the people in the audience. And I think that's what's so great about Coach.
I didn't know him well. We had met -- I think he indulged me more than anything because I wanted to pick his brain at times. But I was and I am still impressed by not just his coaching tree, but the type of game that everybody plays, whether they played for him or not or coached with him, it's all over college baseball, the style of baseball that he coached.
Q. Gary, with Ethan starting on Saturday, will Konnor start on Sunday?
COACH HENDERSON: Yes.
Q. How has Rowdey grown into the 2 hole. Put there as an experiment, and he stuck ever since.
COACH HENDERSON: Well, Brett, I would say probably not an experiment. I think that what happens for all four of us, and I can't speak for all these guys, but sometimes you change your lineup because you have to. And obviously early in the first half of the year we were moving a lot of things around.
But I think by the time he got to the spot where we could put him in the top of the order he was competing at a really high level, and batting average has jumped tremendously. And in terms of his impact, it's a competitive presence at the top, whether there's production or not.
Q. George Horton, when he was at Fullerton, and he had a team here, we had a chance to talk a little bit about when he would know when the team was playing tight in baseball here at the World Series, not only the kids on the field but the guys in the dugout, everybody was like one. He knew when they slowed the game down, he knew it was quintessential-type baseball. How do you know, Pat, Gary, Mike and Lindsay, when your teams are in the groove, they're playing the type of baseball that the coaches have taught them, and this is a big platform and you're looking forward to them playing this type of baseball?
COACH MEGGS: I think for me it's just the body language that they have. You can tell they're enjoying what they're doing and there's very little fear. It's more about "get the next guy up" kind of mentality.
And they're just enjoying the game the way they did when they were 12 years old. And for us first-timers out here, I think that's a challenge for us, is to try to get guys to realize the game is the challenge and try to put all that other stuff aside and just try to enjoy the game between the lines, play as hard as they can.
But when our guys are locked in like that, they're having fun and they're loose and they're enjoying each other.
COACH HENDERSON: Well, the biggest thing is that they've got to enjoy the experience. And we talk about that all the time. Enjoy the experience, make the most of it, be grateful for the opportunity.
And Lindsay is right. You see it in the joy in their face and in their body language and you see it in their bounce in their step. You try to get them to understand this is a short window of life and they need to embrace it and enjoy it.
It will be over soon enough for them, whether it's in a week or four years or an extended career in the Big Leagues, there's going to be a lot of other things they can do in life while we're doing this we need to enjoy it. We've talked a lot about that.
And I think for the most part our kids have embraced it. But for everybody that's sitting here, I think I can speak for them, there are times when that game gets hard for those guys, and one of the biggest things we can do is get them to enjoy it. And if they do, they play better.
COACH FOX: Well, I think each coach knows their team and knows their players and their personality. We were around them all the time. So if you're an experienced coach, you know, you can just feel it and you can see it. You want your kids to have the same personality that they've had all year long or when you've seen them play confident and loose. It has to be all in together.
I think that's a trick out here is to do that. Enjoy the moment and play the game. And not think about what's at stake, just play. Easier said than done, but when you've been around your kids as long as we have, baseball's a long sport. We've all been with our kids not only for two, three, four years, in particular this year since August. You're around them all the time.
You can tell you know if something is bothering them or they're not enjoying the day. It's the same thing in the dugout, I think.
COACH CASEY: I probably wouldn't add anything more to that. Most of the things they've said are probably accurate.
Q. Lindsay, Willie MacIver said earlier in the week that his feeling was you guys are, quote/unquote, playing with house money out here. I guess just how do you feel about that, and kind of what's your thoughts on how your guys will respond to being in this environment for the first time, just the personality of them?
COACH MEGGS: It's hard for me to disagree with that statement, because I don't think of all the teams that are here, I don't think too many people sitting in the audience today picked us to be here from the beginning of the season to even through the postseason.
So with that in mind I think that's more of a comment about maybe us believing that we belong and not many others embracing that. And Willie wears his emotions on his sleeve. He's one of those guys that's a high-energy guy that loves to play. And our guys feed off of his energy and emotion.
So like all these guys have done such a great job of, and that's why they've been here so many times, we as a staff have to find a way to reel our guys in and before they get on the bus to head over here to understand what the game plan is and to understand how we need to pitch people and what's the offensive plan going to be, because if we don't have that nailed down until we get off the bus and walk in the ballpark and experience all these things for the first time, I think we're going to be in trouble.
So for us that's the way we're going to approach it and one pitch at a time and one inning at a time and see where it takes us.
Q. Casey, this one's for you. In talking with the players after they said that they basically set the goal to get to Omaha right after they fell to LSU last year, can you talk about the road to Omaha and maybe if they did anything different this year? Because you were saying it's all on the players; they're the ones who got here. So could you tell us how they did it?
COACH CASEY: Well, I think everybody starts working out early in September and they have goals and I think Omaha is written on almost every college baseball batting cage in America and everybody's dream and it should be.
There isn't anybody that doesn't belong that get here, that's the first thing, because they've earned their way here.
So the guys felt they would need to work hard like they have, they need to be committed to one another like they were. Everything needs to go your way, balanced your way. You need to get the breaks and things need to happen.
But I think a commitment to one another to get back, and I think our guys felt we maybe could have played better at the end of the tournament last year that we didn't, and kind of odd that we got LSU at our region. So that helped them spark a little bit.
I think a commitment to what each guy wanted, and that was the same goal, and that was to get back here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports