The Arizona softball team grabbed a 1-0 lead in the Fayetteville Super Regional by routing Arkansas 10-4 on Friday at Bogle Park.
Our full game recap be found here and below are some of the notable quotes from postgame interviews, which can be watched at the bottom of this story.
Arizona coach Mike Candrea on the win: “We did about everything right. The offense got some key hits and we got ahead early. We got a good pitching performance and some good defensive plays. The line drive catch in the last inning was a big one. But we’ve got a lot of softball left. It’s one game and we’ll get ready for tomorrow.”
Candrea on Hanah Bowen’s complete game: “I love Hanah in the circle because she’s highly competitive, she’s very active, very confident and throws the ball in four different planes. I mean, she’s got a lot of stuff. Sometimes you look at her stature and you think, ‘ah,’ but she brings up pretty darn good for her size. And the thing I love about her is that she’s a really active part of the whole defense. I think our defense kind of feeds off her and tonight she threw some good pitches that were hit hard, but Arkansas is a good hitting team and we knew that coming in, so I tip my hat to Hanah Bowen for a great performance tonight.”
Arizona catcher Dejah Mulipola on the three homers Bowen allowed and how she bounced back from it: “She’s resilient. That girl is so competitive. We watched the replay on the jumbotrons and [the homers] were great pitches so that just is a credit to Arkansas and that the hitters that they have. They were hitting her pitches. For her to come back and to close out that (third) inning and get us back in the dugout and back on offense so we can produce for her was big deal. But it’s nothing that I don’t expect from her. That’s the player that she is. She’s always competitive and she’s ready to throw the next punch.”
Candrea on Sharlize Palacios coming through with an RBI single after Dejah Mulipola was walked: “That’s why I have her behind Dejah. I know people are gonna sometimes throw around Harper, and if you’re gonna throw on Harper, you’re gonna face Dejah. If you want to throw around Dejah, you’re gonna face Palacios. And I think Sharlize really has great maturity for her age. She’s young, but she’s got a really high softball IQ and really getting emotional stability. And I really have a lot of confidence in her when they do walk Dejah that’s she’s going to hit the ball hard somewhere and tonight was a good example of that.”
Candrea on Arizona being able to figure it out on the road: “To be able to put together a performance like that here, I think it’s just a tribute to these kids just kind of sticking with what we do. I think early in the year, sometimes you may be trying to do too much or it was a little different playing without crowds and I really think kids love playing with large crowds. And one of the things that we’re pretty used to is playing in front of large crowds at Hillenbrand, so that was one aspect that we were missing all year until postseason, and I think they feed off that. It was definitely a signature win for us tonight on the road.”
Mulipola on the hot day at the plate: “I think we were just trusting our eyes. It wasn’t necessarily what the other pitcher was throwing against us. It was just getting our pitches, making sure that she’s throwing pitches that we want to hit, and squaring them up. I think one through nine, whoever we put out there, is great offensively. And that showed tonight.”
Candrea on Jessie Harper’s 91st career homer, which is third-most in NCAA history: “I’m very proud of her. If you were with us every day during practice, you’d find a kid that never takes a rep off. No matter what we’re doing, she’s giving you 110 percent. And I think as a hitter she’s worked really, really hard to be the hitter that she is today. And to be able to be as consistent as she is, I think is a tribute to her hard work, her preparation, and her skill set. She’s got pretty good hands, quick hands and squares the ball up a lot. Sometimes she gets in trouble when she starts chasing pitches because she feels like she can hit anything. But what you see right now is just the combination of a lot of hard work, and being able to do it in crunch time is really the tough part. Hitting home runs is one thing in batting practice but when you get in the game, it’s a little bit different and she’s done a wonderful job and we’re really proud of her.”
Candrea on Harper’s improved plate discipline: “It’s something we’ve tried to work on with her is trying to not get herself out. If she has a little bit of discipline and shrinks the zone a little bit, she’s going to have a better chance to hit the ball hard. But she is a very, very aggressive hitter. And sometimes that can be a benefit versus someone that doesn’t swing until they have two strikes. Jessie is gonna take her hacks and sometimes you get a kid like that that takes her hacks, she’s gonna strike out a bunch but I’ll take the strikeouts with the run production that she’s had in her career.”
Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel on what adjustments her team needs to make: “Postseason is all about toughness, that’s what we’ve relied on all year and I just don’t think we were very tough tonight. I don’t think we were very tough in any facet of our game. I don’t think we were very tough from the circle, I don’t think we played great defense, I don’t think we fought like we typical do in the box. I think I need to be better too. We need to get back to what got us here and it’s the fight, it’s the toughness, it’s the heart, it’s the belief and we need to get back to that.”
Deifel on Mary Haff’s struggles in the circle: “I don’t think her rise(ball) was kicking in like it usually does, and everything that she has is effective off of that. I also think Arizona had a great game plan.”
Candrea on Arizona’s game plan: “We had a good game plan coming in and I think they all had an idea of what they were looking to hit. And sometimes you can do that and not get that pitch but tonight luckily we were right more than we were wrong and we were able to put good swings on it and square the ball up. She’s a good pitcher.”
Arkansas shortstop Braxton Burnside on Hannah Gammill’s sixth-inning homer that prevented a run rule: “I think Hannah’s home run was huge because we were able to avoid the run rule. It was good for us mentally and it was good because it showed us that we had that fight in us. We knew going in Arizona’s offense was incredible, their going to hit the ball hard one through nine, just about every single at-bat. You know, obviously Mary will tell you she needs to be better in the circle but we needed to be better in all three facets of the game. I don’t think it all fall in the pitching circle. They were just able to get the momentum early and we could never get it back.”
Burnside on getting the offense on track: “I don’t think our offense was terrible tonight, obviously we need to score more runs. I don’t think there’s huge adjustments that need to be made. I think we fought a little harder in the sixth inning when the run rule was right there, so we’ll need to find that fight sooner. We’ll see who they throw at us tomorrow, but I just think its minor adjustments, nothing major.”
Burnside on bouncing back: “We just have to make sure we stay within ourselves and understand that runs don’t roll over to tomorrow. We can’t make it any bigger than what it is, its just one game. They earned nothing more than that. We have to get back to just being us, focusing on our side of the field and not letting any outside distractions affect us more than they should.”
Mulipola on the win: “It gives us a lot of confidence, but we can’t get complacent. We still have one more game. We still a lot of softball left. Obviously Arkansas is going to want to beat us. So, we have to come out and compete.