Softball2009 NCAA Women's College World Series
· Florida’s winning streak is up to 26 games, the longest of the season.
· Stacey Nelson’s shutout set a UF single-season record with 20. She had previously been tied with Chelsey Sakizzie (1997-98).
· The last time California was shut out occurred against the Oregon Ducks on April 3.
· Florida pitchers allowed only one earned run during the first two rounds of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
· With the 20 strikeouts today, Florida set a single-season record with 507 on the year (previous record 498 was set in 2008)
· Aja Paculba extended her hit streak to nine games, the longest of her career.
· Stacey Nelson did not allow a walk in both wins, marking the 12th and 13th times this season she has completed the feat.
· Aja Paculba’s lead-off home run in game one was her fourth lead-off homer this season.
· Stacey Nelson’s start in game one marked the 200th appearance of her career.
· Stacey Nelson has recorded 10 double-digit strikeouts this season.
· Florida pitchers have allowed only 51 runs in 410 innings this season.
· Florida batters have 87 doubles on the season, this is the third-highest single-season total in UF history.
First baseman/Pitcher Valerie Arioto
On Stacey Nelson
“Stacey Nelson did a good job of keeping us off balance. For most of the game, we were only one hit away. I was pleased with the way our defense played behind me. All-in-all, a couple games away from the World Series isn’t too bad.”
On Producing Big Hits
“We didn’t get the big hit when we needed it with runners on. That’s where I feel that we fell short. We were only down by a couple of runs for the whole game and a big hit could have really changed the game.
Second Baseman Shannon Thomas
On the Game
“Each time I got on, I did the best that I could to get to the next base. It was a tough game and a tough loss for our team.”
Head Coach Diane Ninemire
On the Super Regional Matchup
“It was an absolutely great NCAA Super Regionals. There was great defense at times of the game. All the pitchers performed well and battled.”
On Playing Florida two years in a row
“Florida has a lot of the same players as last year when we faced them. I think that we played them better this year as opposed to last. Both games were very close and we were in it till the end. We just couldn’t manage to get that timely hit when we had the runners in scoring position. I was proud of our effort today and felt that we improved our position against them with our performance today.”
Senior Catcher Kristina Hilberth
On returning to the College World Series:
“It’s really cool. When we came in the fall, we knew we’d have a good team. We knew that every team we would play was going to try to beat us. We were ranked No. 1. It’s really great to go back to the World Series, especially since everyone was gunning for us at the beginning of the season. We would have been disappointed if we didn’t make it, but at the same time, there are a lot of great ball clubs we had to play to get to this point. We didn’t expect it, but we worked really hard to get here.”
On being a senior and playing her last game at home:
“The last pitch I started crying and thought, ‘I need to catch this pitch before I start crying.’ When I went up to give Stacey two outs, I thought in my head, ‘this is the last out I’m ever going to play on this field.’ It’s been a great journey.”
Senior Pitcher Stacey Nelson
On her mental toughness and change-up pitch that helped defeat Cal:
“I know last year, they (California) were all over what I was throwing. I knew that I needed to show them something different this year. If I’m having a good day with a pitch, I’ll probably use it a little more than I normally would. I knew that I had a job to do.”
On returning to the Women’s College World Series:
“It’s so exciting. It’s tough to get to this point and we know it’s tough. It wasn’t going to be easy. To finally be in the College World Series is a great feeling of accomplishment. But at the same time, we have another tournament to play. We have more experience now and also we know the teams that are going to be there a little better from last year. I think we’re a little more prepared at this point.”
Sophomore Second Baseman Aja Paculba
On her homerun that started the Gators off in the first game:
“I was just trying to get on base and advance when I could so we could get the game started with a little momentum in our favor.”
On going back to the Women’s College World Series and what makes this year different:
“It feels awesome to be going back. One thing that’s different this year is that we definitely have a little more experience after last year. We’re more experienced as a team.”
Head Coach Tim Walton
On overall feel of winning this year and going to College World Series versus 2008:
“More than anything, I think the expectations were a little different. The work ethic was different. We put a lot of effort into winning today, opposed to last year when we hoped to win. We did a really good job today expecting it.”
On Stacey’s performance today:
“All the great ones have that ability. She doesn’t buckle under pressure. Today in relief, that’s probably the best she’s looked all year long. She came in and mowed them down. That was really the momentum changer and that’s why I brought her in instead of Stephanie (Brombacher). It was an easy decision. I was ready to make the change before the inning started. After (Cal’s) hit, it made my gut instinct that way. It’s about where we’re at. We had a lead, we weren’t swinging the bat the way we needed to be, so we couldn’t give up anymore runs.”
On what it took to defeat California:
“I think you speed the game up quick. You can’t steal first, so you just have to keep them off base. You saw when (Shannon) Thomas got on base, there she went – and you knew she was going, she stole second, and that led to their first run. I thought overall Stacey Nelson had the best stuff I’ve ever seen her have. Look out the strikeouts she had with a pitch you don’t usually see her throwing.”
On the type of player Stacey Nelson is:
“On the way to the press conference, Stacey (Nelson) gave me a hug and she said, ‘four years ago did you know we’d be going back to our second College World Series?’ I said to her, ‘four years ago, I didn’t know you’d be as good as you are, so thanks for being that good.’ We have the sixth-best pitcher ever in NCAA history. She’s one of the most special kids you’ll ever coach. There isn’t a mean bone in her body. She’s a competitor, she loves to win and she’s just a special individual.”