Oklahoma Softball Coach Patty Gasso addressed the media Wednesday to talk about the Sooners upcoming vie for another national championship at the Women's College World Series.
This will be OU's sixth WCWS appearance in the last seven years and 11th overall.
on making it ti the world series again:
"We are, again, just really pleased to be here. It was quite a season with a lot of highs and lows and a very tough regional at home that we had our backs against the wall. To see this team fight through it and go against a very good Auburn team in Auburn was another difficult challenge. But to see them step up and face the challenge was exceptional, so I'm extremely proud of this group. And getting a chance to be back here and being called one of the final eight is quite an honor, and we're just very pleased to be back."
on Paige Lowary's improvement:
"Melissa Lombardi has happened to her. Our pitching coach has done a fantastic job, really starting from ground zero and giving her a breath. A lot of you might know, she had a horrible, actually, it was an Oregon player when she was at Missouri hit a ball up the middle that caught Paige in the face, and it was pretty traumatic and she just kept playing, kept going. And when she came to OU, we wanted to give her some time off and the doctors recommended it. And then it was after those like two months, then it became like a rebuilding, start over from ground zero and let's redevelop you into what you're comfortable with, and she bought into it and she's become a completely different, more confident pitcher."
on the process of turning a young team into defending national champs:
"I don't think we handled it very well to start. There was a lot of expectations that they took on their shoulders. It's pretty evident, we struggled through mid-March, and it's very tiring to live in that world. We, through a lot of work together, pretty much decided this isn't fun. Softball isn't fun right now, so let's go back to what we know, and they all, again, bought in and exhaled and became a very competitive, trusting bunch with each other and enjoyed softball again, and that's really the key is just let your guard down and go for it, and they did. Ended us back here, so it was a phenomenal journey with them."
on familiarity between teams:
"Talking to Glenn, I don't think either one of us are thrilled to see each other this early. We're just thrilled to be representing the Big 12, and we don't get a lot of attention, so I think we're both pretty thrilled to be here. That in terms of what I would say we might talk about restructuring or re-seeding once teams get here and try to avoid some of this, but it is what it is, and I think both of us are like I said, just proud of our teams and ready to get going."
on softball being in the 2020 Olympics:
"Just the dream that kids get to dream again, representing your country is a dream of anybody's, so especially now, it just seems like there's more to represent and more pride and wanting to. So the dream is back, and I couldn't be more thrilled. As all of us coaches could tell you, to see the little kids come to your camps, know that's what they're shooting for, it's a great thing for our sport."
on overall improvement throughout the season:
"I think we're a little more confident team and even a little more complete. Pitchers have really found their groove. Offense has improved some. So, I just think we're just a little more complete than we were in early April."
on having a deeper pitching staff this time around:
"We're in two different worlds than we were last year. I look back at what Paige Parker did, and I find it pretty amazing. I don't know when we might see another pitcher do what she did from throwing every inning of every regional, super regional and College World Series except the second championship game. Now having options and having a little bit deeper staff takes a lot of stress off of Paige and keeps her mind a little bit freer and strong, and I think our team feels that as well. They don't feel like, oh, we've got to, kind of on what Heather was saying, feeling like you have to score because Paige is going to run out of gas. I mean, we're talking about completely different style now that we have confidence in everybody who can come in and throw a pitch. I just don't want to mess that up. With Paige, it's like you do it, this is you, I can't mess this up, you're the only choice we have. Now, there's choices. So we need to be calculated and smart in what we're doing."
on the WCWS being played in OKC:
"Seen some great improvements throughout. Now, adding I thought a locker room attached to your dugout where we didn't have to use the porta-potties in your dugout but you could go now into a locker room with bathrooms and a meeting room attached to the dugout was very important. So, I've seen some great improvements. What's hard for me is being 30 minutes away, people think that I work at the TicketMaster and can give them free tickets and free parking passes. And I think we get the toughest happens against us, thinking that we're trying to work deals. It's hard sometimes, but I'm not complaining. I'm happy that it's close to home and the Sooner fans get spoiled by that. So, we're pleased about it."