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June 2, 2019

Montana Fouts

Caroline Hardy

Patrick Murphy

Skylar Wallace

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma-7, Alabama-3

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Coach, you talked about the youth of your team, set up to be successful in the future. Talk about what you hope your underclassmen pull away from this experience in moving forward.

PATRICK MURPHY: Well, I got to get all my thank you’s out. Is that okay? Everybody involved with the championship, the Hall of Fame Stadium, people at our hotel, the Waterford Renaissance, everyone there, every place we went to eat.

The media, you guys are awesome. You make softball to the average fan important. I really appreciate all the coverage, the local paper, everybody, including ESPN, espnW. We really appreciate it because you make these girls rock stars. There's all kinds of little girls in the stadium that are now looking up to our kids, Oklahoma kids, all of them. I really appreciate that. I know our kids do because they have an attitude of gratitude.

I think the biggest thing from this year is our underclassmen have learned from four unbelievable seniors just how to be servant leader, how to put the team before me. It's just one heck of a ride. 60 wins with basically a whole new infield, three new pitchers, new outfielder. It's just been incredible.

They have taught me a tremendous amount; they've made me a better coach. I can't thank them enough for the ride of a lifetime.

THE MODERATOR: Montana, I know this is going to be tough because you haven't had time to digest. What kind of things will you pull from this experience?

MONTANA FOUTS: Just like he said, from our seniors, they tell us a lot to keep fighting.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Caroline, saw you out after the game doing a final Alabama cheer. What was that moment like?
CAROLINE HARDY: It was sad. Really sad. You don't think it's going to come. All of a sudden it's there. I think we sent two really, really, really good teams home in the past few days. You're kind of playing really hard. All of a sudden you look up at the end, we're excited for us, but then you look over there and you're like, Oh, man, that must be the worst feeling in the world. For that to happen to us today, that was hard.

Q. Caroline, with your walk-off RBI in that first game, where did that rank in your career?
CAROLINE HARDY: The top. The top for sure. I think I hit a home run against Auburn, that's probably up there, too. Definitely today. That's what you dream about doing. You dream about it as a little kid getting a walk-off hit, your team coming and doing a hug in the middle of the field.

Yeah, that was fun. I love this team.

Q. Skylar, talk about last couple days, rain delays, long nights, long day today. Talk about the resilience of this team.
SKYLAR WALLACE: It definitely hurt losing that first game against Oklahoma, battling with them. Each day we came out and we were, like, let's just work another day to put on these jerseys, fight for these four senior who gave us everything. Let's keep fighting for them to put this jersey on, keep battling. We came this far. Everyone doubted us. Why not show them wrong and make it all the way.

Q. How tired were you?
SKYLAR WALLACE: I mean, your body, you wake up and you feel kind of sore. Then you start getting ready, you're getting your mind right. I get to put the jersey on one more day. For me, that was exciting. It kind of got me going.

Listening to the music, seeing your teammates come together on the bus ride over to the field, makes you forget about what your body is feeling and how tired you are.

MONTANA FOUTS: Yeah, like she said, I just think you're tired until you go out there and the game starts.

CAROLINE HARDY: I'm very tired (smiling). My feet hurt. But I echo what these two have said. I think in the warmups you feel it a little bit, a little bit harder to get down there into that squat. Yeah, I mean, when you get on the field, it's about competition. Your mind doesn't get tired.

Q. Montana and Skylar, what did you see when Caroline had that hit to end the first game? Comment on what she has meant to this team this year.
MONTANA FOUTS: When she hit that, I'm sure you noticed everybody on the team just went crazy. I think that's what our team is about. No one cares who hit it. No one cares who was on first. It just happened. That's what we were proud about on this team. The seniors have taught us everything. They demonstrate it every day.

SKYLAR WALLACE: I saw Carol go up there and kind of took her hacks, was missing them by maybe an inch. She was on time with it. I looked (indiscernible), We're probably going to get a hit right here and we're going to score.

The moment it came off the bat, I knew we were going to score, win that game. To go out there with Carol, someone who has been there for me, everyone, taught us so much about hitting, staying calm, taking us under her wing, it was awesome to see her get that success.

Q. At the end of the day what do you think you're going to take out of this season? What makes this team so special?
CAROLINE HARDY: I can't think of a better way to go out than finishing with this group at the World Series. I think when Coach Aly hugged me at the end of the game, she said, ‘You're going to be a champion in life.’

I think that's what's so important about women's softball, is that when I take the jersey off for the last time, I'm fully prepared for that. These guys, man, you better watch out for them. This freshman class really gets it, really wants it. I'm really excited for them. I know they'll be right back here next year.

MONTANA FOUTS: I think from this year we're just going to take that it doesn't really matter how people think of you from the start. All that matters is how we think of ourselves.

SKYLAR WALLACE: Got to go with what Montana said. Everyone has their own opinions. You can let it affect you or fuel you. I think no matter what, going into my next three years, don't let anyone affect you. Just go out there and play the games. Just keep doing you and play big.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Congratulations.

We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. You had a freshman here who just shut out Arizona and then Oklahoma. Your thoughts on what she was able to do, what the future holds for her?
PATRICK MURPHY: Pretty damn good. I think the sky's the limit because she's just really learning how to pitch. She can throw it by people in high school and summer ball. Steph has done a heck of a good job with all our pitchers this year. Both Sarah and Krystal, as well.

When Montana starts to really move the ball a little bit more, she'll still a say her favorite pitch is the fastball, which she shut out Arizona and Oklahoma. When she really gets her off speed down, change-up, I thought it was the best she'd thrown it Thursday night against OU the first time. When she gets different movement pitches, really spinning in the right direction, up, down, in and out, she's going to be really, really good.

Q. Earlier Coach Gasso said there's no way you were a No. 8 seed. One of the best teams they faced all year. What do you think Alabama proved during their run here?
PATRICK MURPHY: Well, I just think with 60 wins, beating the people that we beat here, we definitely proved our No. 8 seed. We were worthy of that, for sure (laughter). Possibly a little bit more.

You know, the committee has difficult decisions to make. They're doing this for free. I appreciate what they do, too. There's always going to be some sort of controversy or whatever. Just the name of the game.

I'll schedule smarter next year, that's for sure.

Q. Did you consider going with Montana in the nightcap?
PATRICK MURPHY: No, I didn't. She had an overuse injury in the middle of the season. I want to be here for three more years with her. I don't want her to run out of gas her freshman year because I overthrew her.

Tomorrow, what are we going to do? You're going to ask me the same question. Is she going to pitch Tuesday? Wednesday? Then it's like a never-ending thing.

I thought Krystal, they had one hit for, like, four innings. Unfortunately, after that, it was big hits. We keep up what we had been doing offensively...

I figured this was going to be -- Patty tried G, as well. I don't know what she said. She looked like she was out of gas. But I figured it was going to be the Sunday of a college baseball game, a nine-day game or a 13-12. Basically out-hit each other. Unfortunately, we didn't get the hits that we needed.

Q. Talk about Krystal, what went into the decision, how long to keep her in?
PATRICK MURPHY: I mean, I probably should have took her out right before that. She struck out I think Clifton twice and Alo twice, which is two of the best hitters in the country easily.

There's something about her that's just a little different. We were talking about it in the dugout. Her ball moves weird. It's difficult to describe.

Again, when she really, really learns to hit her spots, she's going to be very, very good as well. Same goes for Sarah. I saw the replay on the home run, I think it was right down the gut. When she hits her spots, corners, stays at knees, whatever the ball is supposed to do, if she does it correctly, they're both very hard to hit.

When you don't, they're going to make you pay.

Q. Caroline, she's been a role model for you throughout her career. What did that mean to you to see her come through today?
PATRICK MURPHY: Just awesome. She deserves it. She earned it. She watches more film than anybody on the team probably. She was like an assistant coach in the dugout. Her intangibles this year, we asked the entire team, I give them a week to think about it, then I said, Okay, we're going to talk about it on Tuesday of the next week. Everybody has to stand up and give their intangible what they're going to bring to the team that year. We put it on a big bulletin board.

I hold them accountable throughout the year. If somebody said she's going to bring joy to the team, she's Debbie the Downer, she's not doing what she said she was doing.

Caroline was going to bring this aggressive, smart mentality to all the hitters. She did that perfectly. I think if you asked everybody, her intangible was on spot all year long.

The word that Montana was talking about is Madiba. The definition is having vicarious joy in someone else's success. It's very difficult nowadays with kids, with parents, you name it, it's difficult for everybody.

When a team actually gets ‘madiba’ understands what it's all about, this is what happens. 60 wins, predicted eighth in the SEC, we're going to get a ring in a football game this fall. Everybody's ring is the same size because all 19 bought in.

She's kind of the ringleader for that. She's been that way ever since she stepped on campus.

Q. What are you going to take the most out of this season?
PATRICK MURPHY: I just think they reenergized me honestly. They really did. They taught me a lot. I was talking to a couple of you guys the other day at our batting practice. There's some years where you've got enough. There's other years where you don't want it to end. That was one of these this year.

Everybody just wanted to keep playing. That's a credit to everybody on the team. We really looked forward to every game, every practice, everything they did together. It was a lot of fun. One of the most fun teams, most enjoyable years I've ever had.

Q. What told you Caroline was the one that would come through there?
PATRICK MURPHY: We decided after watching G cut us apart for a while to go about a 75% swing, cut it down. You don't have to kill it, just put it in play. Merris almost did it the time before in centerfield making that diving catch. Exactly what I wanted. The next inning Reagan did it, punched it up the middle. I think Skylar got the sacrifice down. Caroline comes up, does the exact same thing, two strikes. You don't need to kill it, we just needed a single. She did it perfectly.

She's smart like that, so I thought she'd buy in.

Q. Talk about the other three seniors.
PATRICK MURPHY: I've gotten so many messages this week. People love Reagan because she's the catcher, solid as can be. She's caught a ton of games for us, has the school record for throw-outs. Just an incredible leader this year.

Courtney, I wish you could have met her and got to talk to her. She was our international transfer from New Zealand. Another kid that just bought in from the start. Reagan and her were our two captains this year.

Kind of the unsung glue of the team is Merris, kind of like the team mom with everybody, tries to keep everybody together.

But the four personalities as a group just worked perfectly. Totally different. Reagan was definitely the enforcer. Courtney was kind of like everybody went to her for advice. The four of them just really, really left a good mark on this program.

I think what the coolest thing is these two freshmen up here are going to take a lot from the four of them.

Q. You weren't right to Caroline (indiscernible).
PATRICK MURPHY: When she pinch hit?

Q. Yes.
PATRICK MURPHY: I just thought Caroline would do it. She's come through, I think super regionals or regionals, just came through in the clutch. I think it was her turn. I just got a feeling.


PATRICK MURPHY: Thanks to everybody. Really appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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