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Kentucky-DePaul Postgame Quotes




May 18, 2014

Recap |  Box Score

Game One Recap

DePaul’s Kirsten Verdun hit a walk-off single to center field to lift the Blue Demons to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Kentucky in the opening game of the championship series to force a decisive second contest. Verdun was also the winning pitcher, tossing all 10 innings and yielding just two hits while striking out 11.

Game Two Recap

Kentucky sophomore Sylver Samuel hit an inside the park home run in the first inning and then the Wildcats exploded for six runs in the second to pull away for a 10-1 (5) victory to advance to the program’s third NCAA Super Regional appearance. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed both games, but picked up the five-inning win for her 27th of the season. Samuel had her first career homer and added a triple, while classmate Christian Stokes hit a bases-clearing double for three RBI to pace the Wildcat attack. UK advances to take on No. 3 national seed UCLA in Los Angles next weekend. Kentucky will be looking for its first-ever trip to the World Series and will need to win 2-of-3 in a series with the Bruins to achieve that goal.

Kentucky Press Conference

Kentucky Head Coach Rachel Lawson

Opening Statement ...
First I want to congratulate everybody for being in the championship. I thought all four teams played really well. I thought it was a really great regional, from the standpoint that all the teams, with the exception of Kentucky, had won their conference and it was really tough. I thought all the pitchers in the entire tournament did an outstanding job, so overall I thought it was a great regional. Obviously I’m happy to be out of it. I thought it was a good showing for us in the second game today and the entire tournament as a whole.”


 

 

On DePaul pitcher Kirsten Verdun in the second game …
“I think her changeup was still good, but her power pitches had slowed down a little bit, so the difference between the two pitches wasn’t as great and I think that also had an impact. That was her fifth game in a row. They had to play the extra game. I thought she had a really gutty performance. I thought what she did was outstanding. You could also see her coughing out there, so I think she was probably a little under the weather too. They didn’t say that at all, but you could tell. I thought she did an outstanding job, but her speed on her screwball and her curveball had probably slowed down a little bit. Not to take anything away from our hitters, I think our hitters decided to put the team on their back and go out and score runs. In the other games, I think (Kelsey) Nunley did a good job of putting the team on her back and I thought we had good defensive play but I think that the mindset of the team offensively was we need to get this done.”

On Sylver Samuel’s home run …
“You don’t see it very often. There’s a couple really special players in the country. I think Sylver is becoming one of those players and in my entire coaching career, and actually playing career, I’ve only seen it a handful of times. I definitely think Sylver was the MVP of this game, if you consider this the championship game. I believe Sylver was the MVP. I think of the tournament, if I had a vote, I would vote for (Kelsey) Nunley. To be able to pitch as strong as she did for so many innings; but the momentum definitely changed when Sylver did that and I think she’s absolutely right, that it changed Nunely’s mindset. It made her relax. I know she was fatigued both mentally and physically, and I think that when Sylver came up and got that hit, it gave Kelsey the boost and gave our team a boost. I think that was the single moment the game was won.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#2, Sylver Samuel, So., CF

On how big her inside-the-park home run was …
“Offensively, we’ve just been up and down with the offense. I think in the second game, we were just trying to get something started to pick Christian (Stokes) up. There were a lot of holes and a lot of people had shifted, so I was just trying to get something started. It worked out pretty good.”

On her mentality at the plate approaching the at bat …
“Take a pitch and drive it. I was thinking more about making sure my timing was right and everything and finding a hole.”

On her mindset as she was running the bases …
“Well, I saw people still running when I was going to second. I saw that they hadn’t gotten to the ball yet so I saw (Kristine) Himes running and I was like ‘Well, she’s waving me’ so I just went for it.”

On if it was her first-career HR …
“In college, I’ve never had one. I just hit base hits and let someone get me in.”

On if the momentum shifted when she got the inside-the-park homer …
“I think the momentum definitely shifted towards us once we started getting hits. That picked us up a lot and I think it just got our offense rolling, and I think it gave Kelsey (Nunley) confidence that she didn’t have to put the team on her back as much because we hadn’t been hitting as well the last four games.”

On her possibly thinking of a cycle …
“A couple of teammates had brought it up, but if I start thinking about stuff like that it’s not going to work out. I try and think of the same mentality when I go up to the box every time.”

On what they learned from the last Super Regional that will help them this year …
“I think this year we need to come out a lot stronger than we did last year and keep the same momentum that we’ve had in this regional and take it to UCLA and keep our offense rolling.”

#10, Christian Stokes, So., SS

On Sylver Samuel’s home run …
“I think that was huge for our team. We needed something that would get our momentum going, and I think that was a huge at-bat. We scored a run on one hit, so that is huge. I think that got it started and then hits were going all around.”

On her hit in the game and if she thought it was a home run …
“I definitely thought it was going out when I started trotting. And then I realized it, so I turned it into second gear when I was going into second (base).”

On if she felt pressure at the plate …
“I didn’t feel too much pressure. When I got up there and I was on deck, I knew that we had to get it done right here because this was a huge opportunity for us. I came up in the first game and didn’t get the job done so I knew I wanted to help out my team and get it done on the second chance.”

What was said in-between the two games …
“Coach (Lawson) just basically talked to us and said it was time to get it done. This is make-it or break-it, this is your opportunity right here, just go out here and have fun and take hard cuts.”

DePaul Press Conference

DePaul Head Coach Eugene Lenti

Opening Statement …
“Well, it was a great day really. I’m very proud of our team. I always kind of look back when these things are over and see what your team did, how they did, and did they go beyond what people expected of them, and this is definitely one of DePaul’s greatest teams. I think when you look at the year when it’s all over in the world of softball, you won’t find many teams that won their conference regular season championship, postseason championship, won over 40 games and made it to the ‘if’ game on Sunday. From where I look at it, it means you’re a top-24 team. In back-to-back days we beat No. 25 ranked James Madison and Kentucky was ranked what in the poll? Fifteen? So, we beat 25 and 15 in the last weekend that you’re playing says a lot about your team. Obviously we owe a lot to Allie (Braden) and Kirsten (Verdun) and our other two seniors. They did a great job. It’s just a fantastic year overall. Obviously, the second game didn’t turn out the way we wanted. The wheels kind of came off a little bit. The first game was a little more representative of what DePaul softball is all about, and the fact that it went 10 (innings) didn’t really help our cause. You probably would have liked to have had that one over in five on our side, but it is what it is. Round bat, round ball, strange things happen all the time. We’re not going to reflect on what happened in the last game, we’re going to look at what happened as a whole. I do want to say that I thought Kentucky did a fantastic job in both games. The first game reminded me of old-school softball. I’ve been around a long time, and that was white ball, 40-feet softball, 2-1 in 10 innings. The game today was more like baseball like it was in the old days. In the second game they (Kentucky) made a lot of adjustments. I’d also like to thank the University because I thought they did a great job as a host. I’ve been all over. I’ve been to Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Kentucky has done it as good as anybody else that I’ve ever seen do it. (Kentucky tournament director) Kate Ballard did a great job. Kerri Blaylock did a great job representing the NCAA. They kept us well feed, which is an important thing with our group. We’re very much all about food. Great job overall, and I couldn’t be any more proud of our young ladies than we are today.”

On if there was a specific reason as to why the wheels came off …
“Well, if you just watch that one-inning, the six-run inning, I mean we dropped a pop-up. From that point on it just – and I’ve got to say if you looked at the first couple of innings we hit some good balls right at people, they hit some good balls – hits the bag, or the slapper (Sylver Samuel) hits one in the hole against a slap defense. She just happened to be the fastest kid in the SEC. You can’t prepare for everything. You’re preparing for what’s mostly going to happen. That’s how you align your defense. When people hit against your defense, that’s Major League baseball all the way down to Little League. When people hit against the defense, they’re going to score a run. It’s just unfortunate that it happened. We would not have been in the situation that we were if it weren’t for (second baseman) Brittany (Boesel). The way that she played defense against James Madison we’re on the bus yesterday if she’s not there to make the plays that she made yesterday. That’s just something that happens. I’ve seen them all. I’ve seen (New York Yankee’s Derek) Jeter drop pop-ups. It happens to the very best players. It happens to everybody. Unfortunately for us, it had a cumulative effect. It kind of snowballed there. They’re young. They’re not professionals, their student-athletes. They’re going to go back home and finish school. We’ve got plenty of school ahead of us, final exams and that kind of stuff. We’re not going to go to practice tomorrow for three hours as if we were a pro team or whatever. We’re not going to work on calling fly balls and catching fly balls, I mean 10 out of 10 times Brittany catches that ball. It’s just something that happened today. Sometimes fate steps in. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I have a pretty good feel for things when they happen. I can just kind of tell that it wasn’t the same. Like I was saying, balls drop in for them and yours get caught.”

On whether or not UK scoring first affected DePaul’s psyche …
“Well you never want the other team to score first because then you’re always going to have to catch up then especially when you’re the visitor. Whenever I’m at a tournament I always choose visitor because I do want to score first because then I think that puts the home team on edge then. Especially with two good pitchers, you saw the first game it was 2-1 in 10 innings, so obviously one run means a lot in the second game heading that way. That didn’t affect Brittany at all on the pop-up, it was just something that happened. It didn’t affect the team either, really. If you just take that inning (the six-run second) out it’s a whole different ball game. We get our one. Our one is a legitimate one, and then its one-one. It’s a tough road. It’s tough to come into Kentucky and beat Kentucky twice. I told them after we lost to James Madison on Friday that somebody was going to have to show up on Sunday and it might as well be us, and we did. That’s why we won’t even focus on the last game. You have to focus on the whole year when you get to this point in the season. We couldn’t be more proud of how they performed.”

DePaul Student-Athletes

#7, Kirsten Verdun, Sr., P

On the wearing effect with their backs against the wall all weekend …
“You know I don’t know if it was, I think we played some of our best softball, like you said the first game we lost (vs. JMU on Friday night) was the first bad game we’ve had in a long time. So, you know it was nice to bounce back from that and play the way we have really all year. I think that we did a good job proving that, like yes the conference isn’t what it used to be, but we are just as good as the other people out there.”

On if she was tired in game two after pitching 10 innings in the first game …
“Did I feel tired? Yes. Was I concerned? No. At that point, if Eugene (Lenti) asked me if I was ready for the second game, I would have said, ‘What am I saving it for? You know I’m a senior and we aren’t going to play next weekend if we didn’t win that game.’ So yeah, I was going to throw until my arm fell off basically, so yeah I was a little bit sore but I mean who wouldn’t be fatigued, you know pitching five games in a weekend or whatever I pitched. I don’t know.”

On the routine groundball by Sylver Samuel turning into an inside the park home run …
“It was frustrating. I mean it was frustrating, but more than anything we had to score to win at that point. So it wasn’t like an end to the ball game in my eyes but it is tough at Kentucky to beat Kentucky and they had a lot of people here and a tough crowd and I really didn’t want them to score first. But, you know those things kind of happen and you just have to play through them.”

 

 

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