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May 30, 2019

Patty Gasso

Giselle Juarez

Nicole Mendes

Sydney Romero

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma-3, Alabama-2

THE MODERATOR: Joining us is Oklahoma.

Nicole, the game-winning triple. Tell us about that at-bat. What was the plan?

NICOLE MENDES: I know my last two at-bats I didn't quite get what I wanted. I knew that I was happy and we had a good game plan.

Going into the at-bat, I took a moment to stop and I prayed. I just said, I give it up to you, Lord. Whatever happens, it's for you.

The last two at-bats, I looked the same at my last at-bat. It was really cool to be able to give the glory to Him for this.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Nicole, two years ago, you hit two home runs here, hit the big triple here. What is about this stadium that seems to bring out the best of you?
NICOLE MENDES: I like to compete. This is where the biggest teams come to compete. I don't know, it just brings something out in me. I just get really excited and really amped up. It's anybody's game. Any team here can win it. I think that kind of lights a fire in me.

Q. Nicole, walk us through the at-bat, when you made contact. Did you think it was going out? Looked like you might have wanted to keep running past third.
NICOLE MENDES: I didn't even know it hit the wall. I just knew it was over her head. I knew as soon as I saw it over her head, I was going to go. I stopped looking after that.

It wasn't until afterwards that I saw how close it was to going out. But, yeah, I was kind of thinking about going home, but coach held me up.

Q. The matchup with OSU, bedlam rematch. What does it mean for you guys?
SYDNEY ROMERO: OSU is a great team. I just think the cool part about it, you have two Oklahoma teams playing at the World Series. Just the fact that both of these teams are from Oklahoma, I think it just says a lot of stuff, is awesome.

We know it's going to be a good game. OSU is a great team. We're excited.

NICOLE MENDES: It's cool, like Sydney said, to see another Oklahoma team here, Big 12 team. Big 12 has really progressed over the years. This is a testimony to that.

I'm excited because they're always a tough game. For this game, I think it's really going to grow, not only in Oklahoma, but around the U.S.

GISELLE JUAREZ: They said it all. But I think it's going to be a really good game. I think it's going to be an intense one. We're on the biggest stage in college softball. I think it's going to be a really awesome game tomorrow.

Q. Giselle, you were in an Arizona State uniform. Being back here, what was going through your mind considering how last season ended?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I was talking to Elam, I don't know why, but when I was walking up to the field, I was like, This is kind of funny, the last time I was on this side, I was playing Oklahoma. Now I'm on their side. Kind of made me laugh.

But it was crazy to me because when I looked around in the first inning, they were throwing the ball around, Man, I feel like I've been here before. It was crazy because it felt like déjà vu. It was a really awesome feeling to feel that with them.

Q. G, to go off of that, you just looked so calm in the circle tonight. I want to know if you felt that sense of calmness or if you were hiding it?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I think I felt calm. I knew my team had my back. But I think the thing that kept me calm, especially in the last inning, when I came back from the top of the sixth, Nicole saw me, she's like, Can we pray together? I think that was just really amazing because it's something that I felt like spoke to me. It was just, like, really needed in that moment. I think it was really cool that we could implement that in our game and give it to Him.

Q. Sydney, I think it was top of the sixth, two outs, what did you see in that moment?
SYDNEY ROMERO: I was like, Whoa. I mean, it was a good hit. I just reacted quick.

Q. Giselle, you gave up a home run. Sydney, early error. How did you bounce back from those errors?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I guess just letting it go, just not letting it affect our game, looking forward. Like, moving on to the next pitch, this pitch, but like the next pitch.

SYDNEY ROMERO: I wasn't too worried about it. I knew Giselle had my back. I trust them so much that I wasn't going to dwell on it.

Q. Syd, you looked so relaxed in your at-bats. Talk about being in this environment so many times. Were you that comfortable throughout the today?
SYDNEY ROMERO: Yeah, I was just confident. We always talk about pressure being a privilege. Just the fact that we're here and we're in this situation, you got to own it. You have to have so much fun. I'm not going to regret any moment.

Q. G, you're familiar with quite a few of those players on the Alabama roster. How does it feel to compete against your former teammates?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I think it's amazing. I get to see their success throughout the years. They get to see mine. We get to play against each other again. I think even though we played together in the past, it's been really amazing to see them grow, myself included. To see, like, I guess my own club team sixth seed, be in this type of environment. It was really cool, even when we had the banquet, really awesome to see them again.

Q. Giselle, you had a series sweep against OSU in the regular season. Does that play into confidence? Do you have to put that to the side?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I would say they're a different team than when we played them. We're a different team. I know it was late in the season. But I feel like both teams have grown. I think we're going to see the differences.

Q. Nicole and Sydney, to be back out here in Oklahoma City, the way last season ended, what is it like to get that feeling out of your mouth, to be able to get a win?
NICOLE MENDES: It was awesome. I remember walking onto the field after the game before us ended. I just looked around, I was like, This is so cool. Not everyone gets to come to the World Series. I've been able to come every single year. Although last year didn't end the way we wanted it to, it definitely fueled a fire on this team.

Not only that, but we realized that we need to take advantage of every moment and have fun with it. Not everyone is going to be here for the rest of it. Syd is going to be gone next year. We need to have fun because at the end of it that's what we're going to remember.

SYDNEY ROMERO: I agree with Nicole. It was all about cherishing the moment. We talked about enjoying the journey a lot this year. That's played a huge part in our team. The fact we have so much fun with each other, we focus so much on literally having joined the journey, it's impacted this team and my life.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. Talk about the sixth inning with Nicole. Did you think about pinch hitting for her? Glad you didn't?
PATTY GASSO: This is how it works. Yes, I did. When I walk over and say it to J.T., and he said, No, something is going to happen. I say, Okay. I walk away. He's always right.

So I listen to him in those situations.

You're right when you say that she shines on this platform. She finds a way. May not look good, but she's going to do something that's going to be a game changer, and she did.

Q. Your ability to clutch up with two outs tonight, how huge was that?
PATTY GASSO: Oh, big. I thought Jocelyn Alo took some really good swings. It wasn't with two outs, but early in the game Fale set up a good rally with the hit-and-run. Nicole, what she's doing. We had some good, hard-hit balls that they made some good plays on.

I felt very confident with this team. They came in very comfortable. We understand the importance of winning the first game. There wasn't any pressure there. They were so together tonight. It felt really good.

Q. The idea of Bedlam on this stage, not many at a national championship level, softball, a women's sport, in Oklahoma City, does that add significance to all this?
PATTY GASSO: I don't know if you'll believe me, but I would say not really. It's got to be somebody. If it's not them, it's Florida. There's history. I know everybody wants to see it. We just want to find ways to win. We want to get ourselves to a place where we're playing on Sunday and not playing all day. That's the important thing. That's what we've got to focus on, not get caught up in the hype.

They feel the same way. I'm sure they feel the same way. It's a big game for tomorrow night. It puts somebody in a good driver's seat. That's what we're going to focus on.

Q. You use the word 'comfortable' describing tonight. How important is it when your pitcher looks comfortable?
PATTY GASSO: It's very nice. It's not easy to do in this environment. We talked about this last night. The team has asked for a chapel. We did one. One thing about them that I'm proud of is that they just share their feelings, and they're not afraid of that.

The word they kept using was 'fun'. I kind of pulled this up on my phone because I wanted to share what that meant to them.

So fun, the F in fun is free of worry, free of stress, free of pressure. So they took that and they bought into it.

The U in fun is use self-control, don't get in your own head. They understood that.

And the N was the not about me. It's not about me.

They bought into it. They loved it. They embraced it. From there, they just get crazy confident in the fact that they're very powerful together as one unit. It just kind of comes that way to them. They just really embrace it.

Normally you have athletes that are very nervous. They weren't. They were just really excited to get going. You sit around all day, it's hard to do that. You're watching other teams play. They were very anxious but yet very calm in that way.

Q. What do you think it says about the strength of this lineup when you have someone like Nicole that you feel comfortable relying on, she's hitting in the bottom third of it?
PATTY GASSO: Well, it feels good because you need to roll this lineup over for Syd, Fale, C.C. I'm counting on them. They know that. They know not to try to get too big, not to make the moment too big or think they have to do it themselves.

However you have to find a way on. Grace Lyons had a couple hard-hit balls at their second baseman. It's huge. If you can get a complete lineup top to bottom, and you've got good pitching and good defense, you're very tough to beat.

Q. You faced G last year. Now she's pitching this year. How did you feel like she did tonight?
PATTY GASSO: I thought she did well. I don't think it was one of her best games, because she was falling behind a little bit. You could feel that in her. She's not the pitcher that will throw four straight balls. She had a few walks. But it's your first game on the mound. It's going to happen.

She fought through it. The team kept saying, ‘We got you.’ I kept hearing them say, ‘We got you.’ Then she would come in the circle and say, Hey, don't worry, I got you. It was a big love fest in a good way.

Q. With the way the tournament is set up, you could either not be playing Saturday or playing Saturday twice, does that change or make it difficult how you choose to throw Giselle tomorrow or is everyone available?
PATTY GASSO: Everyone is available. To us, it's almost like every game is a must win. You kind of feel that way. Now you do have a safety net, but we don't think of it that way. This is really putting you in a great position, so we have to go all out for it. We understand that having been here before. We understand that.


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