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June 3, 2023

Patty Gasso

Tiare Jennings

Kinzie Hansen

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Oklahoma Sooners

Postgame Press Conference

Oklahoma 9, Tennessee 0

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Oklahoma.

We'll start with a statement from OU head coach Patty Gasso.

PATTY GASSO: Extremely proud of this team and the way they played pretty flawless, attacking offensively, pitching staff, all of them, on point. Really wanted to give everybody an opportunity to get on the mound. They ran with it.

Defense on point. I mean, everything was exactly the way we hoped it would be. Very proud of this team. Really stepping forward, getting the day off, getting to recover is really important.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open for questions for the players.

Q. You've seen teams throw multiple pitchers at you guys before. That seemed to be Tennessee's plan today. How much did seeing that previously this season help you today? Were you surprised that was their approach?

TIARE JENNINGS: Yeah, I just think it's important that we saw it early in the season and kind of stuck to a game plan, learned how to adjust off it.

I mean, I didn't know that was going to happen today, but it ended up working out for us, sticking on the game plan, no matter who was on the mound, we were going to make our adjustments.

KINZIE HANSEN: I think a lot of teams have a lot of different tactics to throw at us every single game. It was something we were surprised by but excited for. It's a new challenge every day. We weren't technically expecting it, but when it came and we found out who was starting, who was coming in and just the different strategies people try to throw at us, we were excited for those challenges, and it makes us better going forward.

Q. What was it like seeing Mackenzie Donihoo on the other side?

KINZIE HANSEN: She's a gritty player. She did some big things for us a couple years ago. Just to see her happy and successful over there, both her and Zaida, just doing well. I know it's pretty cool just to see them having success and being happy. It's really good to see them in their career have that.

Q. Tiare, it was really important that you got the Sooners going. If you could talk about that at-bat and getting the Sooners going. Kinzie, the home run -- your first at-bat I know you weren't happy with, but you adjusted and you got something going.

TIARE JENNINGS: Yeah, all about adjusting. I know my first at-bat got a little jammed. I wanted to make a good adjustment. Two outs, two on, just tried to hit the ball hard, keep passing the pat. Got a good pitch, drove it, it ended up working out.

KINZIE HANSEN: One thing that is special about our team is we are not result oriented. Bat to bat, pitch to pitch, we're quick to make adjustments.

My first at-bat was not what I wanted, especially early in the game with the bases deuced. I knew going into my second at-bat what their game plan would be against me. I think that really paid off going into it.

Q. How special is it to hit a home run in this stadium? Does it feel different? The balls, when they get taken back to your parents, what do you do with that? How exciting is it to see your family celebrate?

TIARE JENNINGS: Yeah, super exciting. It never gets old, coming around, coming in clutch for your teammates. Coming home is the best feeling.

I look in the stands, see my parents. All our hard work and dreams as little girls paid off.

My family, it kind of gets passed down the line. However many I hit, it goes to my brother, then my sister, it ends up going down the line. This is for my grandparents that are here. Great moment. Super cool.

KINZIE HANSEN: You are rounding second, you look up, you see your family going crazy, get to third, you see Coach going crazy, then you turn left, seeing the whole team at home just jumping and barking. Seeing the joy this team has consistently, they know that's what keeps us going. That's what motivates us, is all the joy and love we have for each other.

Q. Kinzie, after that first inning you loaded up the bases, no runs across. What was the mindset going into the top of second inning on defense? Did that lead into the scoring?

KINZIE HANSEN: Like I said, we weren't really result oriented. When we did get the bases deuced, we knew we were going to see some success later in the game. In our minds, nothing is really going to stop us.

Going forward, going on the defense, we have all faith in our defense. Going out there, I know Jordy does her thing. We weren't getting too high, too low, staying neutral mindset, staying within, sticking to our game plan really. There's nothing else to it.

Q. Back to the regular season, Baylor, the second time you played them, they said you have to show you have to beat them, talked a little smack. Do you look at that kind of like from a positive standpoint, people trying to prod, finding ways to beat you? Something you relish a little bit?

TIARE JENNINGS: Yeah, I think we try and focus more on our game plan, not really what other teams are going to do.

I mean, we try and look at what their game plans are, their tactics, but try and see how we can get the best success off of it.

Teams can do whatever they want, but at the end of the day it's going to be up to us, stick to our game plan, trust each other. Yeah, definitely it's how it started.

KINZIE HANSEN: I agree with Tiare. A lot of teams try to pull us out of our game plan, distract us with a lot of things that are said about us, they say to us.

The ultimate goal for us is to keep our blinders on, stay linked arm in arm, because that's when we're at our best.

THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions for Coach Gasso.

Q. You got all four pitchers in today. You had Thursday's game, Friday day off, today to think about who to start. What was the thought process behind giving Jordy the ball again?

PATTY GASSO: It's all about matchups for us. I think maybe that's why they started their freshmen, as well. It's about matchups. But we also knew Nicole May and Alex were good matchups for them.

It was really hoping to get a lead to allow us to do the things that we did. It worked out well.

Q. You get through some pressure situations with a close game in the first round, then a pretty runaway game like this. How big is this experience for this team? The older players, two years ago they had to fight so many elimination games. They've experienced all aspects. How big is that in history and also this year?

PATTY GASSO: I'll start with experience.

There's nothing like it. They do such a good job of bringing the young players around because you hear every player up here talk about their dreams of being here. It's real. When they're here, they can just get overwhelmed by the emotion and seeing their parents, the crowds and everything.

Our upperclassmen have done a really good job of bringing the rest along.

There was another question. What was it (laughter)?

Q. (No microphone.)

PATTY GASSO: Yes, I mean, I was kind of talking that. But I think you asked about the players.

For us, pitching against us has prepared us for this. I will go back to our super regional, I'll go to Stanford. Those were tough battles for us.

This group feels if they can beat those pitchers, they can beat everybody. So before we even play, it's that mentality of that kind of wave that's building saying, We're prepared, we're ready for this.

I think that has really enabled us to have confidence coming in here.

Q. You said it's about matchups going with Jordy. What was it about Tennessee's strength as a lineup, what Jordy does well that made you say that's the way to go?

PATTY GASSO: Yeah, Jordy can throw a lot of different planes and a lot of different speeds. They just are very aggressive. I think majority of them swung at the first pitch. You got to really pinpoint that pitch where you want it.

I just felt Jordy had that command. Not that the others don't. The extra speed that Jordy has is very effective.

Q. You talk a lot about getting players in to feel this environment and experience. How crucial was it for Alex to feel this, have an outing go the way she wants to after the last two?

PATTY GASSO: Yeah, huge, absolutely. These young transfer kids that come here and they say, I want to come here because I know you know how to get there and that's my dream.

For Alex, she's one of those. To get that moment on the mound was her dream come true. You're seeing Haley Lee, Cyd Sanders, Alynah Torres. They're all thriving, but they're thriving because of the people around them.

Jayda Coleman is one of the most confident young ladies I've ever seen. She spills that into Boone who spills into Brito. It just keeping spilling all over in a wonderful way that we don't want to clean up, we want to keep spilling.

Everybody out there is just raising the confidence right now, and it's really enjoyable to be a part of.

Q. Your offense today was good because no matter what they threw at you, you responded. They're trying to disrupt anything they can. Couldn't do it against you today.

PATTY GASSO: Very proud of that, this team, that they weren't swinging at things very much out of the zone. Their pitching staff really hammers the zone. We ended up with five walks. Walks turn into runs.

However it looks, we celebrate walks. We celebrate 3-2 walks. We celebrate 0-2 counts that come back for walks. We understand how hard it is, but we also understand how important getting a runner on is for this team because we do such a good job of driving them in or finding ways to score them.

Q. With this break you mentioned how important it is, how much softball do you watch as a team when you have the days off? What do you gain out of that, if you do?

PATTY GASSO: Well, they like to relax, but they watch softball. They want to get away from softball, but they like to watch other people play softball.

I don't know. I know they do, and they're very emotional when they're watching it. Like, Oh, what a great hit. It could be anybody. Doesn't matter what team's playing. They enjoy watching good softball.

I don't know if it relaxes them 'cause they're yelling and screaming over it. They like to learn from it, and they like to also kind of quietly see what they're up against, as well.

Q. I know the last win of this tournament is the most important. This is 50 straight. Does 50 mean anything to you?

PATTY GASSO: Nope. It means we're winning a lot of games. But I'll say it again. Nobody seems to want to believe what I'm saying.

We don't talk about it. We don't. We really don't. Because what we want to do is bring a national championship back to the University of Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma because that will never be taken away from us. You can never take that away. It will live forever.

But I do know 'cause I've been in a lot of these races where there's a lot of records that people are breaking. Will Alo's home run record live forever? I doubt it. I don't think so. I thought no one would break Lauren's. No one thought Stacey Nuveman's would break.

Records are being broken all the time. It's an honor. I had a conversation with Mike Candrea, which was really wonderful. We connected throughout the season. He's just very congratulatory. That is great. But it's just moving on. It's taking things home that no one can take away. That's what we're about.


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