Arizona softball rallied its way to a 4-1 victory over Arkansas on Saturday to win the Fayetteville Super Regional and clinch a ticket to the Women’s College World Series.
Our full game recap be found HERE and below are some of the notable quotes from Arizona head coach Mike Candrea and center fielder Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza. Full postgame interviews can be watched HERE.
Candrea on leading Arizona to its 24th WCWS appearance: “Great performance. I think right now we’re playing our best softball, which is what you want at this time of the year. We just need to be able to carry that into Oklahoma City because it’s the next big challenge. I’m very proud of this group. A lot of hard work, a lot of dedication to maintain our bubble and be able to even get on the field this year and play, so I mean I commend these young ladies, the job they’ve done over these months. For the senior class and for everyone just be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor all year and have it work out and culminate into a victory and another trip to Oklahoma City is pretty fun for me. We’re very excited about our return trip.”
Candrea on overcoming a tough road environment at Arkansas: “It was just one of the experiences that you try to prepare your kids for, but you really can’t until you get here. I was really amazed that our kids played loose, had fun, competed hard, all the things we talked about all year they kind of put it all together, because it definitely could be a challenging place if you didn’t have the experience that we have with our senior class.”
Candrea on Palomino-Cardoza’s go-ahead home run: “Well I’m so happy for her. I mean, I know what she’s been through. I’ve been through it with her. I knew today was her birthday and to see her put a great swing on a good pitch and hit a ball out, put us ahead two to one was very fitting for her. She’s one of those kids that you pull for. There’s ups and downs, but today she was a hero, and I think it’s well deserved and I’m just so happy for her because she has had a career that has been very challenging. For most kids it probably would have been easy to throw in the towel, but she’s not one of those types. She’s competitive, she’s a great teammate. And when you see good things happen to good people, it makes you excited.”
Palomino-Cardoza on her approach ahead of the homer: “I just told myself to breathe and to take it one pitch at a time. My previous at-bat, I hit a back door (pitch) and Cait (Lowe) told me to stay on it. And that’s what I got first pitch. That’s just what I felt and I took a hack at it and I felt good off the bat and I was excited.”
Palomino-Cardoza on following up Sharlize Palacios’ perfect-game ending single: “We’ve been going off pass the bat and enjoying the little wins and that was a little win for Shar. I think that really sparked us in saying, ‘we can hit this pitcher and we can continue to win this game.’ I think that is what we needed and that is what we rolled with. Good job to Shar. She’s a great hitter and we were excited when that happened, and we were just going to keep it rolling and passing the bat.”
Candrea on Alyssa Denham’s performance: “Alyssa has had her ups and downs… I told her before the game. I said, ‘this is your moment.’ And she went out and threw a hell of a ballgame against a really good team. I’m happy for her. You want all of your players to feel confident going into Oklahoma City and I think right now this was a big boost for her.”
Candrea on the joy of seeing this senior class finish their careers in Oklahoma City: “I’ve said this numerous times, I think this senior class is the gold standard as a coach. Not often do you get seven kids that do all the right things, both on and off the field, in the classroom, in the community. They’re good teammates. They’re great leaders. I’m blessed. It took me 37 years to put together a group of seven that kind of run the show. So I commend them and I’m so happy for them.”
Palomino-Cardoza on the team’s growth in the postseason: “It feels really good. We have gotten a lot closer these past three weeks and it’s been fun to just continue to grow as a team and we know that we’re not done yet. We know the road ahead is still gonna be hard and we’re going to take it one game at a time and continue to play our softball that we’ve been playing the past two weeks and we know that that’s good enough to beat any team and we’re just going to keep that mindset.”
Candrea on appreciating the moment of making another WCWS: “It’s pretty special. For a long time I took these moments for granted and maybe it took a little spurt of when we didn’t get back there and you have to keep answering that question to people. Because that really is our standard. Our standard every year is to get to Oklahoma City and play for a championship and so it’s very rewarding right now to see it happen. It was a very challenging road. I don’t think people understand how tough it is just to get there. I’m enjoying this moment. Very much so. I’m enjoying this team. From here on out, whatever happens is going to happen, but you know what? They’ve proven to me that they’re going to be great people the rest of their life and to me that’s important.”