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What they said about Arizona softball’s win over UMBC and a packed Hillenbrand Stadium

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

The Arizona softball team blanked UMBC 7-0 on Friday to open the Tucson Regional in front of 1,935 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium, which was operating at full capacity for the first time this season.

Our game recap can be found HERE and below are some notable quotes from players and coaches from both sides. The full interviews can be watched at the bottom of the story.

Arizona head coach Mike Candrea on Hanah Bowen’s one-hit shutout: “Hanah’s just a typical competitor. She’s got great control in the circle. And when she’s fresh and throwing her pitches the way she wants to, she can be tough. Even that first inning (when UMBC had a walk and single), I thought there was a couple of pitches that were fairly close that she wasn’t getting, but she’s a smart kid and makes adjustments very well and I have a lot of confidence in her.”

UMBC coach Chris Kuhlmeyer on Bowen: “She’s a heck of a competitor. When she gave up that hit against Maddie (Daigneau) in the first inning, I instantly saw she was like, ‘I don’t think so. You’re not getting another hit tonight.’ And we hit her pretty hard a few times, it just happened to go right at people. But she’s got good movement, she’s got good velocity, she’s got great command of her pitches and that’s what makes her tough. And if you don’t attack her early in the count, especially with her pitches that she has, it’s just hard to be able to keep extending the at-bat off that kid before she finally make some mistakes. She just doesn’t make too many of those.”

Bowen on her shutout: “I think it was just coming out and attacking and commanding the zone like I always do. The strike zone was a little tight in the first couple of innings, but it is what it is, so I just had to get them to swing and miss and get the ground balls and pop ups.”

Arizona shortstop Jessie Harper on career home run No. 90, which tied Stacey Nuveman for third-most all-time: “I remember saying that 90 is a cool number. That’s a cool number...so I hit 90, had a little bit of an extra smile. ... I’m up there with some really cool people. But I’m happy. I’m proud of myself, happy that we got two runs on the board for our team to kind of get the momentum going our way because we needed those runs just to get a little bit extra excitement.”

UMBC pitcher Courtney Coppersmith on Harper’s homer: “Jessie Harper is a big name. I mean, she just hit her 90th career home run, so she’s a power hitter. I just didn’t get the ball up high enough, but there were still some wins. Just because somebody hits it out doesn’t mean that you didn’t have wins in the at-bat. I had some swings and misses. I had some that they were looking at. You’re going up against the best of the best at this point. So you leave one even just a little tiny bit fat, it’s gonna leave (the park).”

Harper on the offense coming alive later in the game: “I think the main thing was we just needed to see the ball a little bit deeper and make sure we’re getting good pitches. ... Just being a little bit shorter to the ball and having trust in our eyes. We were swinging a little bit too big, seeing the ball a little bit too out in front, but it might have just been a little bit of jitters.”

Coppersmith on pitching at a packed Hillenbrand: “The whole stands behind you were full, so when they start cheering ‘U of A, U of A’ I tried to pretend they were cheering for me even though I know they’re not. But the atmosphere was awesome. You just have to use it for you instead of against you. Can’t let it get to you.”

Candrea on the Hillenbrand crowd: “It was very nice to hear the crowd once again. It’s something that we miss and something that we rely on here at Hillenbrand. I think it is definitely a factor when you’re playing against us at home with a full stadium. I was very, very excited tonight that we had people in the stands and I’m just glad that I’m seeing people without masks on and kind of getting back to some normalcy.”

Harper on Hillenbrand: “Playing in front of our fans was the most exciting thing. I remember we were just finishing our warmups and we came in and the fans were going crazy. It was so sweet. I loved it and it reminded me of how great our Rita Hillenbrand Stadium is when it’s packed. Our fans are really something special. That was so exciting.”

Harper on the freshmen experiencing a crowd like that for the first time: “[Sophia Carroll], my girl who’s playing shortstop probably next year, she looked at me and she’s like, ‘Jess, this is awesome. This is so cool.’ She’s like, ‘I’ve been waiting for this moment.’ She had a little butterflies and I was like yes that’s what you’re supposed to feel. Everyone should have a little bit of butterflies. I’m just really excited to see the fans out. I know Devyn Netz was eating it up. She loved every second of it. She ran in, she was cheering big cheers and then all of a sudden the fans kind of responded to it. It was cool to see the freshmen light up and be like, ‘Wow, this is what it’s like.’ This is what they remember. They told me that they remember coming and watching all our home games and being part of the packed stands. And now they’re getting to experience it, so it’s something special.”

Kuhlmeyer on if the crowd affected his team: “I think maybe for a few of our kids it did. But I think for the rest of them, they honestly said that the crowd this time around did not affect them as much. And I’m not saying that to say that the crowd wasn’t as noisy or as raucous as Oklahoma was last time we were in this or anything like that, because it was, it was really loud. But I think just a couple years more maturity with a lot of our kids led to it being like, OK yeah, it’s still another ballgame. We gotta go out there and play. It’s just gonna have more people in the stands this time around. And I think that showed that this time around and we put on a little better show.”

UMBC shortstop and leadoff hitter Maddie Daigneau on if she felt any pressure playing in her home state for the first time as a college player: “It sounds weird, but not really. It felt like I was more at home. Playing in this weather, seeing my friends and my family there, I actually was pretty relaxed. It was cool to play at such a great stadium and such a beautiful field.”

Daigneau on her leadoff single, UMBC’s lone hit of the game: “It was a great feeling because when we were practicing on the field, I was like, ‘okay I’m gonna chop the ball’ and I was able to accomplish that goal. So I think that was awesome.”

Kuhlmeyer on the Hillenbrand infield dirt: “I played out here several times before with different programs and it’s still one of the hardest fields in the nation. You see those bounces that U of A gets or like Maddie got in the first inning with her at-bat. You just don’t get those other places, so it’s a lot different. Our field is nowhere near as hard. A lot of the fields out east that we play on don’t even come close to how hard the field is. At the same time, we were on it yesterday, they knew what to expect, and we made some good plays on defense yesterday when we had our practice. Today, we just didn’t come up with those plays when it counted, so we’re gonna have to make those adjustments tomorrow.”

Daigneau on the Hillenbrand infield dirt: “You gotta have quicker hands and it’s definitely hard to time the bounce, but not impossible.”

Kuhlmeyer on what his team needed to do to win: “We talked about it last night. I was like, look, you guys can beat U of A. It’s gonna take a perfect game and we have a pitcher who can go toe to toe with a lot of people. But you guys are gonna have to play great defense; we’re gonna have to take advantage of when we get runners in scoring position. We’re gonna have to have to get a big hit here and there and Courtney and whoever else comes in the game after that is gonna have to have their best games. And Courtney pitched well enough to win us the ballgame. Our defense made some great plays and our defense made some really uncharacteristic plays today and it’s unfortunate, but we’ll bounce back tomorrow. We’re gonna play Villanova. We know who they are, we’ve seen them already this year. We split with them, so we go into the game pretty confident.”

Full postgame interviews

Mike Candrea

Mike Candrea post UMBC

Here's Mike Candrea after Arizona Softball's 7-0 win over UMBC to kick off the Tucson Regional

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, May 21, 2021

Hanah Bowen

Hanah Bowen post UMBC

Hanah Bowen threw a one-hit shutout in Arizona Softball's 7-0 win over UMBC in the Tucson Regional

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, May 21, 2021

Jessie Harper

Jessie Harper post UMBC

Jessie Harper hit her 90th career homer in Arizona Softball's 7-0 win at UMBC in the Tucson Regional. That's tied for third-most in NCAA history.

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Friday, May 21, 2021

UMBC