Softball
InteractiveTwitterFacebook
Video: Lawson, Players Talk UCLA, Super Regional on Wednesday




May 21, 2014


Rachel Lawson

Sylver Samuel and Lauren Cumbess



Head Coach Rachel Lawson
On what Kentucky can gain from past Super Regional experience …
“Last year when we went out to Tempe we had so many freshmen. We were starting five freshmen and they really hadn’t been on that stage and didn’t know what that moment was about and I think they were just happy to be there. But I think that when they left the field last year they weren’t satisfied, they felt good about the season they had, but they weren’t satisfied. I think that has been the driving force all year and I think the experience of playing at an elite level and against such a great team has pushed us forward and hopefully we will correct some of the mistakes we made last year.”

On having played a tough schedule and how it will prepare them for a very good UCLA team …
“What I think it does is it helps calm the nerves. When you see a hitter get into the box that is 5-foot-10 and big and strong and all that, you get a little nervous if you haven’t faced that before. But because we play in the SEC and play so many ranked teams, we are used to seeing outstanding hitters and outstanding players. UCLA obviously is a program that is just like that and is one of the best programs in college softball. But the fact that we have seen it before, I think helps keep us focused on the task at hand and not so much the team that we are playing.”

On building the program and what it would mean to take the next step to the WCWS …
“It would be everything. It would validate everything that we have done here at Kentucky. We have an outstanding facility and incredible support from the athletic department, president and university and the fan base. Every game that we do better and every step that we take really validates the blueprint that we have put out here at Kentucky. To get to the World Series would mean so much not just to the program, but to the players and everyone.”

On UCLA …
“They do a lot of things well. First of all, Southern California is probably the hotbed in college softball. So they have outstanding athletes and a tradition of winning that goes back even longer than I’ve been playing. I think the winning tradition is something they’ve handed down throughout the program and they continue to get outstanding athletes and they know how to win. And they play the game the right way and do everything the right way. It is a great team. They are used to being on the national scene and used to going to the World Series. When they play a team like Kentucky, we are just a stepping stone to where they want to go. They are not going to feel a lot of pressure and we are just another cog in that wheel for them. That presents a little bit of a problem for us and ease for them. They are on a mission to get back to the World Series because they haven’t been there in a couple of years. That is some of the things we face when we go out to L.A.”

On if you use that as motivation …
“We are not really motivated like that. We try to focus on what we need to do well. With that being said, I am probably sure our team knows that. I think our team focuses on what they need to do. I think they focus on each pitch at a time and that is not just a trite think to say, that is really what they have to do. If they start thinking about UCLA and how good they are and how they want to step on us, it will take their focus away from what they need to do, which is put runs on the board. They know that they have to stay focused. Also, in the SEC everybody has looked at Kentucky that way for a number of years and recently we have understood that we belong on the national stage with everybody else and we are a program to deal with. I think we have been through that before so it won’t be a new thing for them at all.”

On playing UCLA in 2012 and what they can gain from that …
“We were horrible the last time we were out there, but the team is completely different now. The players that we had at that point were good, but it was the first weekend of that year in 2012 and we were much different at the end of that season than we were at the beginning. At that point I think we were just shell-shocked to be in L.A. and that is softball mecca out there. We made a lot of mistakes and things that looked like hits should have been caught and ended up scoring multiple runs and it snowballed from there. To be honest with you, it’s a completely different year and I am not expecting that to happen. The other thing is that Kelsey Nunley is steady and hopefully she will be able to keep the runs down so that we can outscore our opponent.”

#2 Sylver Samuel, Sophomore, OF
On what it would mean for the program to break through and win …
“Historic. It would mean a lot to us because we have six seniors on our team who have been dying to go there and we’re dying to go there as sophomores and freshmen and juniors. It would just be a new era for us and something that we can only imagine right now, but we’re just really excited about going out there and hopefully getting two games and getting to the World Series.”

On just being happy to be there last year …
“Well, I think that had something to do with it too, but I also think that we just didn’t start the way we wanted to, it didn’t work out in our favor but this year we’re going to have a lot more fire. We’re going to be more excited about coming out there and winning some games. I think that’s something new we need to do and something we need to bring to the games.”

On what she thinks the team’s strong points are …
“Like I said, our defense is a lot of why we have won so many games. I think that obviously our pitching has been helping us shift the game more towards us. If we bring our offense to the game more, that will be a lot better for us.”

On recognizing that UK is like another stepping stone for UCLA to reach the World Series …
“I don’t really know much about UCLA because I’ve never played them. The sophomore class and freshmen class has never played them. But I know they’re a good team so we know we have to bring our A-game when we play them. So it’s not really about what they think of us, it’s how we go out there and start our games.”

#19 Lauren Cumbess, Senior, P/INF
On what she remembers from the 2012 series at UCLA …
“I do remember it wasn’t our best, but UCLA had a great team. For us this year, obviously that was two years ago, so we have a completely different team as well. I’m excited to get back there, it’s a cool atmosphere to play in, there’s so much history on that field. So it was a lot of fun.”

On recognizing that UK is like another stepping stone for UCLA to reach the World Series …
“Yeah, maybe they do because absolutely, they’ve won their share of World Series titles. They’ve been to the World Series before. That program knows what it takes to get there but like I said, our team, we’re a big fighting team, we just won regionals. We’re just on a mission. Our senior class including me, we’ve been to super regionals, this will be our third time. So we know what it’s like to be there and that’s not enough for us. We recognize that they’re an awesome program and they think they might just want to beat us easily, I don’t really know what they’re thinking but we’re going to go out there and give them a good fight and hopefully beat them to get there.”

On what it would mean to break through to the World Series …
“It would really mean the world for all of us here, everyone has worked so hard and it would just be really cool to set the tone for the next coming years and the girls that are going to come in because we can show that it is possible to get there and it’s not an easy feat but I know we can do it.”

On what the older players are saying about being on this stage before …
“My freshman year, we were just really happy to get there because that was the first time in school history we went to supers. So it would be incredible. I get so happy talking about it because it’s just never been done before. This team already has made so much history from things that we’ve done this season. So we’re just saying, why not? There’s more to be accomplished this year.”


 

 

UK Tube - Now Playing Here Campus Tour