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June 19, 2018

David Pierce

Jake McKenzie

Kody Clemens

Chase Shugart

Omaha, Nebraska

Florida - 6, Texas - 1

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Texas coach David Pierce and student-athletes Kody Clemens, Jake McKenzie and Chase Shugart. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH PIERCE: There's nobody in this room and nobody in this country expected this team to be here. And they did a heck of a job from the start to finish, from the fall ball into early spring. The things that they had to accomplish to get here is incredible.

And I can only say how proud we are as coaches and the effort that they gave us and the way they represented the University of Texas.

As far as today, just pretty good arm we faced. He was on. Good stuff. We just couldn't come up with that one hit and really one mistake. We pitched around Liput, which was -- you know, a bag open to work with, went to Maldonado and he hit a damn good slider down and away, put it into center field, great swing. And Chase was going hard in on India, just didn't quite get it in there and that was the difference.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Kody, you've had success against pretty good pitchers this year. What did you see from Kowar? He was able to keep you guys off balance this afternoon?
KODY CLEMENS: He was 95, 96, commanded his fastball. And then he had a really good changeup. Coming out of his hands it looked like a fastball to most of us. And he executed it really well.

Q. When you look back at the season, what are you going to remember from this year?
CHASE SHUGART: I think mostly just the work we put in as a team. The Regional, Super Regional were awesome. I'll remember those, and the time here was cool, too.

But definitely just the team grinding back from a slow start and being able to work past that, it was really cool to be a part of.

Q. David mentioned in his opening statement that not a lot of people expected you guys to be here. For the players, did you feel like you guys proved something this year?
CHASE SHUGART: Yeah, I feel like we did that. Coming in this year, people expected it to be a building year due to everybody we lost last year. But these guys proved everybody wrong and that's because of their attitude. The attitude we had was gritty. We weren't giving anything; we had to take it. We took the Big 12 championship, like we needed, and the Regional and Super Regionals.

We went out and competed every inning, every out, and that's what good teams do and I wouldn't trade this for the world.

JAKE MCKENZIE: I mean, we have a good recruiting class coming in next year. We're only going to get better from here.

KODY CLEMENS: I mean, we weren't the most talented team out there. We had -- in the fall we had all the workouts and we built chemistry and everything. We hung out as a team. Everybody got along.

And I think that's why we really were good and meshed well, and obviously it got us here and that's it.

Q. Chase, in that sixth inning, why do you think they had better luck against you the second time through the order?
CHASE SHUGART: Felt like I gave up three at-bats right there in the whole time I pitched. It started with a fastball to Reese, and threw a changeup and he just ripped it down the line. And I let it bother me more than it should have. And I got out of focus, and started trying to do too much with my pitches and wasn't hitting my locations like I was.

And then the big blow from India, trying to go in, I left it up. And one of the best hitters in the country and he made me pay for it. And also with Horvath, I left another slider out. But I felt like I was in my zone and that was the only inning I was ever out of it.

Q. Jake, incredible postseason hitting the ball. As you look back at this season, are you going to remember it this much more because of the way you played and the way you performed in the postseason?
JAKE MCKENZIE: Yeah, for sure. I haven't really looked at my stats all year. Doesn't make a difference to me. I think I'll miss the guys more than anything. The stats don't really matter to me.

Q. Kody and Jake, did it seem like you guys left more on the warning tracks maybe than any other team up here with all the deep flies? And have you seen a better pitcher than Kowar this year?
KODY CLEMENS: Yeah, the park played big. The wind kept shifting. It was flying to left or whatever. But every fly ball I thought we hit well, like Zubia's, and the guys just carried -- they didn't carry enough.

But I mean Kowar, he went out there and he executed his pitchers. His changeup he left, threw it at mid thigh and it ended up right below your knees every single time. He didn't make many mistakes at the mound. Yeah, he's probably one of the best pitchers that's thrown, and executed the way he did today, probably top five, I don't know.

JAKE MCKENZIE: He got the strikeouts when he needed them. He knew what pitches to throw to lefties especially. The changeup was working well for those.

Q. Kody, quite a ride. Coach mentioned the odds are against y'all at the beginning of the year. No one expected this. How do you think this team should be remembered?
KODY CLEMENS: I think we'll always be remembered for the Regional at home and Super Regional, just the way, how we lost the game in the Super and came back to win and get the team back to Omaha.

Unfortunately, we couldn't pull any wins out here. But I think that they'll remember just like the fight we had in us all year.

JAKE MCKENZIE: I think it's going to be the year Kody hit 24 bombs (laughter).

Q. When you look at this team, what allowed this group to get back to Omaha? What was different about this team from previous teams?
KODY CLEMENS: Well, we had a lot of new guys that came in, and we didn't know them at all. And honestly the time that I was at UT we never really had any JUCO guys come in. So it was different. But we just got together as a team. We did all the workouts, like I said, and all the stuff we did in the fall and early spring that we all, like, would hang out and go out and do stuff.

There wasn't any cliques or anything like that. Everybody would hang out with one another, and everyone got along well, and I think that's why the chemistry on the team was so good, and that's why we fought in the dugout and on the field all year.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. You have seen some pretty good pitchers throughout your career. As a coach you saw Kowar punch those two guys out in the first. What did you think there, and did you feel like he was pretty locked?
COACH PIERCE: He was very locked in. The thing about Kowar is that when you have stuff like that, it's one thing, but when you can mix stuff with command, that's when you're a first-rounder. That's what he is.

He dominated with the changeup. And what's interesting is we did a pretty good job of laying off of it early. And he immediately went to the curveball.

He's got an arsenal. Then when you mix that in with the 94- to 96-mile-an-hour fastball, it puts you in a position where maybe you cheat a little bit and get to the fastball. It's not one of the easiest things to do.

But we competed. We just didn't come up with a hit when we had some guys in scoring position. And I think that's a credit to him, the way he dialed it up.

Q. You obviously know Texas, never satisfied just getting here, but as far as the accomplishment of just getting here and establishing your program, how big was getting here in this second year?
COACH PIERCE: Honestly, this team was not physically put together as an Omaha team might be. When you look around, we've got some guys that completely grew up from freshmen that contributed on the mound especially, from JC kids that came in, between mainly Duke, you look at the season he had, second in the Big 12 in batting average. He hit .390 in the league against some great pitching.

Look at Masen Hibbeler, who is nothing but listed as a baseball player. And all he wants to do is be on the field and play and he plays it the right way. Comes in as a shortstop and ends up in left field for us and really just wills himself into becoming a very good outfielder.

Then D.J. The things that those three guys have given us. And then you look at the returning players, what a year Kody Clemens had. It's second to none.

And for us to be able to witness and see what he did all year and be a part of that and the energy that he brought back to the University of Texas was incredible.

And he had some great support in teammates around him. When you look around you've got two guys like David Hamilton and Ryan Reynolds, who have played just about every day for two years, and just go out and do it every single day.

Then you've got a guy like Jake McKenzie. You can't explain that. This kid just is an ultimate utility player that wills himself into being a great defender. And then his confidence takes over and now he's not only a great defender, he's the best hitter in the College World Series for us.

So when you see that development and the growth of young men like took place in front of us, pretty -- hell of a good season. And these guys have -- our coaches, our support staff and our players, especially, have nothing to be ashamed of. There's 290 teams that didn't make it here.

And this group is well-deserving because of the grit, the attitudes of doing it for the team, the selfless attitudes the entire year. Understanding roles, and just doing it the right way day in, day out.

You look at a guy like Nolan Kingham, who has a really, really slow start and becomes big for us in the back end of the season. Without him we're not here.

You take all the moving parts -- Chase Shugart and Blaine Henley. They weren't perfect all year. We know that. But they never gave in never gave up, and that's what I was so impressed with our entire team. And I sure don't want to leave out Parker Joe Robinson. My goodness, the guy didn't pitch for us two years ago and he's our best reliever.

That's development and that's believing in yourself. That's what the game is about. When you can grow like these kids have, it's awesome.

Then you look at Josh Sawyer. The guy's just done nothing but fight through injuries and persevered to become one of the best left-handers out of the bullpen for us and do it multiple times.

The young man has a hernia right now. He can't even walk yesterday. And he's out there pitching in the eighth inning. That's what this team has been about.

Andy McGuire, a guy that just bounces back and perseveres. So when I look at the season and I recap it, I have no regrets with everything that happened with this group.

Q. As you think ahead, how much do you think this experience is going to help your younger guys on your team and the guys you expect to help build this team with?
COACH PIERCE: When you get a taste of this, it makes you hungry. And what we'll talk about here shortly is understand your own strengths, understand your own weaknesses and what do you have to do, first of all, to make the team next year. Secondly, what do you have to do to be a role player, an everyday player?

And this motivates you and this builds a culture of expectation from our program. And that's the beauty of it. Their accomplishments were great, but what they've done for Texas athletics and Texas baseball is tremendous.

Q. What are you going to miss most from this year's team?
COACH PIERCE: The walk-offs. It's unbelievable. I mean, to have that many exciting endings was incredible. But seriously, the kids. I mean, I've coached a lot of teams. And you never build chemistry day one. Chemistry is not built in the fall. It starts. But you build chemistry by playing together, winning together, losing together, going through the adversity, the bus rides, the quirky things that happen with teams. All that stuff has built the chemistry of this team. And I don't think we had one true controversy with a group that we had to address. Minor issues at times. But overall these guys are well behaved and they've really represented the University of Texas very well.


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