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May 31, 2019

Jocelyn Alo

Caleigh Clifton

Patty Gasso

Giselle Juarez

Nicole Mendes

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma-6, Oklahoma State-1

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Oklahoma.

Caleigh, you started the game, especially in the first two innings, you were very aggressive at the plate. Was that kind of the game plan or what was the approach for tonight?

CALEIGH CLIFTON: Yeah, we knew coming into it, she was going to attack the zone. We wanted to be in attack mode as well. We just wanted to score early, we wanted to score often. That first inning something just clicked for us. Felt pretty good.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Caleigh, you have faced Show before. How much did that help you early in the game?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: I think it helped out, we faced her about two or three times. We got to look back at film, back at our own swings, kind of go from there.

But she's a great pitcher, competes every pitch. Definitely got to work when we're facing her. I think we did a good job of focusing on what we wanted to accomplish.

Q. What was the light delay like for you? Who started the party in the dugout?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I went down to the bullpen, so I don't really know what happened.

NICOLE MENDES: It was pretty cool. I think we were already having a party, but once the lights went out, we knew we had a chance to get the whole crowd in with us. Any time we get the crowd engaged with us, it makes it 10 times more fun, say Boomer Sooner.

JOCELYN ALO: I think like Nicole said, the whole team started to party. At that point it was just about keeping the crowd engaged into the game, not letting them slip away and stuff. Kind of just keeping them on our side, keep them hyped.

CALEIGH CLIFTON: Just kind of going off of what they said, if you look between innings, not even between, Mendes is in the outfield making the fans go crazy between every pitch. Nothing new for us to start a party like that.

Q. Nicole, interesting play at third base. What were you thinking going in there?
NICOLE MENDES: Total accident. I'm just putting it out there first thing, total accident. I wouldn't hurt a fly.

As I was going in, I saw her going one way to catch the ball. I tried to slide the other way. Our bodies just kind of collided, yeah.

Q. Giselle, what was it like facing this team for the fourth time? Later you seemed to get stronger.
GISELLE JUAREZ: It was fun. I mean, I knew they were going to fight early in the game. I think it was just keeping them off balance. Coach Rocha did an amazing job of playing chess with them, mixing things up when needed to. It was awesome.

Q. Giselle, Show had the monster game yesterday. You walked the leadoff hitter tonight. How important was it to get her out, remove the air of invincibility early?
GISELLE JUAREZ: Well, I know she's a good hitter. She proves that. I think it was just again keeping her off balance especially, just trusting my pitches against her, going right at her.

Q. Giselle, three of your four allowed hits came from leadoff hitters. How were you able to recoup later on in the inning? What was throwing you off?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I don't think it was anything that was throwing me off. I think it was just finding my groove when I got back out there. I had to find my groove again.

Q. Talk about how you started off strong, attack mode, then went quiet until the sixth.
CALEIGH CLIFTON: I mean, we want to produce as much runs as possible every single innings. That's not always the case. We know that. Even when we were getting outs, they're hard outs. We still feed off of that. Even if we're getting out, it can be a quality at-bat. We were staying up in the dugout, our time was coming, we were going to produce more runs.

JOCELYN ALO: I think by us having faith, we celebrate the little things, that's what counts. We celebrate when someone gets a bunt down, someone hits a hard ball. I don't think a lot of teams do that. That's what makes us different. With that being said, we know it's going to fall any time soon.

NICOLE MENDES: With this team, the bats, our lineup is crazy. We know any person at any time can come and clutch up. If it wasn't going to happen that inning, it was going to just be a matter of time until it happened.

GISELLE JUAREZ: I would just say, like, for me, it just came down to getting us back in the dugout. They kept saying to me, We got you, we're going to get you runs. Just trusting that, knowing they have my back, I have theirs, is the biggest thing.

Q. Caleigh, with this being your senior year, being from Oklahoma, was it cool to be part of that moment, both teams have played the first time?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: Absolutely. I think this is the first time we've had Bedlam on this stage. We knew it was going to be a crazy atmosphere, crazy fans, both sides going at each other.

I don't know, it was just fun. It was a fun environment, yeah. That's all I got.

Q. Caleigh, getting Show out in the first inning, did you feel that was an important situation early in the game?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: Absolutely. I respect Show as a player. She's a great hitter. She competes on the mound as well. Just knowing that was a huge out for G to get right there. I think there was a runner on, too. That was huge for her to get that out. I think it gave her momentum as well throughout the rest of the lineup.

Q. Giselle, with the way the pitching rotation has been this year, even, do you think that's helped you at this point in the season?
GISELLE JUAREZ: I think it definitely plays a part. I think the amazing thing about this staff is any of us can be starters, any of us can be relief. I know I've said that before. For me, the highlight of this game tonight was seeing Shannon go out there and do her thing. Seeing her out there just fires me up. It was awesome to see her get to finish this game tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. Your team so far in this tournament has gotten off to a great start in every game. You have to be happy about that.
PATTY GASSO: I'm very happy. We talked about not getting caught up in results, but just really embracing and loving these memories and these moments because this team will never be a team again. Eventually it's going to end. Don't miss out on it.

When you take that approach, you don't think so much about what did I do wrong. Somebody is picking somebody up in the dugout the whole way. It's just creating good memories and not missing out.

Q. Obviously Giselle has been fantastic throughout the year. In what ways has she improved since she arrived at OU?
PATTY GASSO: I think confidence has improved quite a bit. She has been kind of up and down. She's kind of a perfectionist, as well. Tonight I felt a competitor. Not that I don't feel that in other games, but she just really seemed to have control. I didn't even know the numbers. To strike out a team, a good hitting team like Oklahoma State, 13 times with one walk, is quite an incredible performance.

I just think it's her gutting up and getting after it.

Q. It was a record crowd tonight. Seemed to be a lot of excitement within the state. What did you think of the first-ever matchup in the World Series?
PATTY GASSO: It was exciting. I think our team started to have a little bit of nerves. It's hard to play the night game because you have to sit around all day and wait, wait, wait. When we got out there, the way they started attacking at the plate set a really good tone.

Again, I'm looking down the lineup. Eight of our nine hitters had a hit tonight, which is a good way to spread it out. There were some clutch hits going on. That along with some really, really good defense. I thought Lynnsie Elam did a good job behind the plate. Some really strong defensive plays. It was a really well-played game.

Knowing this was part of history, who knows if it will happen again, hopefully it will. But the fact that the fans came out and were enjoying it, rooting for their team is what makes it special.

Q. Talk about playing a World Series caliber team four times, beating them the way you did, speak to how hard that is to do that four times in a row.
PATTY GASSO: It's very difficult. That's why this team sometimes amazes me. Oklahoma State has had some really good momentum in post-season. You can feel that about them. Their gamers. They play hard.

I truly believe this, I think they may say it as well, but we make each other better. When we play them, you always feel this pressure from them either we're going to break or we're going to step up. That really is a sign of your team.

I think they do the same thing. It's not easy to do what we're doing, but they also know, I mean, this game puts you in a really wonderful place, in the driver's seat. It gives you a day off, which was their number one motivation, having a day off. You get home and you eat at 1:30 in the morning, they sleep until noon, which is probably something they do on the weekends anyway. It's not the ideal way to want to come out and be your best.

We need that day off. It was important. They want to be in the driver's seat. They're on a mission.

Q. What's the plan for Saturday?
PATTY GASSO: They're going to sleep till as long as they want. We'll probably go down to Norman and start working on who we think our next opponent might be, start checking in on some opponents, swing a little bit, come back, just enjoy the day off. That's the key.

Q. You talked about how G has improved on the field. She's quick to say how impactful the lessons she's learned off the field have been on her, in particular from you. What is some of the growth you have witnessed?
PATTY GASSO: I think she came to our program very guarded. You could feel that. It was hard to really get to know her. But she started to trust us. She has a really funny personality. She doesn't know it, which is what's fun about it.

I think she's really gotten to trust Coach Jen Rocha, the coaching staff. She's very accepted. Everybody in this program accepts everyone that is in our program. I think that really kind of helped her exhale and do her thing.

Q. There's a lot of players this year from southern California. What do you think it is about southern California softball that helps prepare players for this stage?
PATTY GASSO: It has been for a long, long time. I think the weather has a lot to do with it. These kids play every weekend throughout the entire year. I think they've got some really good coaching.

But it's such a big state, when you have good players, you're playing against good competition all the time. When they come to us as freshmen, they're pretty seasoned, they're pretty savvy. I think that is one big reason why I like recruiting California kids. They come in and they're ready to play at freshmen.

The proof is Syd and Shay, not C.C., and Fale, Alo. They all came from the same team except Shay. But they're ready to go. I think that helps your program maintain an excellence.

If you have to wait for your freshmen to figure it out, then you go through hills and valleys. They've helped kind of maintain where we're at.

Q. You mentioned the team had eight hits from eight different players. Not a secret you have a deep batting order. What does it say to make that kind of production on this stage?
PATTY GASSO: It means that they're all in. They just kind of feed off of each other. They talk about handing the torch. They don't want to disappoint each other. They are really, really loose. That's what is really enjoyable about watching them right now, is they're engaged and they're not looking at the scoreboard, not looking at the outs. They're just creating good memories and having a lot of fun doing it.

Q. Talk about Caleigh's evolution.
PATTY GASSO: It's hard to explain. She came as a freshman with deer-in-the-headlight look for a while. Finally got herself out of it. She's from a small town, Wayne, Oklahoma. She was a very good athlete, probably could have played college basketball, she was that good. She is so consistent in her work ethic and her personality and her style. She just loves to play.

Another thing that's kind of tragic, she lost her father when she was in high school. She absolutely committed to play for him and maintain that kind of blue-collar work habit he instilled in her. She never let go of that. She never wavered on that. I think that's why she's sitting here right now.

Q. All your runs were scored by different players tonight. Is this the most depth you have shown in your lineup this post-season?
PATTY GASSO: I'm feeling it. We talked a lot about the seven, eight, nine being very important to get the bat back to Syd and Fale and C.C. Mendes was a great example last night of hitting the ball off a wall for a triple and put us in a good position.

To see Grace hit the ball hard, to keep our rally going, is important. But these are as athletes that are going to be in our future. This opportunity is very, very important for our future, as well.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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