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Softball – SEC Tournament First Round Press Conference

Welcome to the 2019
SEC Softball Tournament. Today we’re joined
on the podium by Ole Miss. On the far right side
Head Coach Mike Smith. The middle we have Abbey Latham. And on the far end
we have Brittany Finney. We’ll start with an opening
statement from Coach then open it up for questions. We’ll, I’ve got to start off by
it’s a great day to be a Rebel. It’s exciting, you know,
especially when you get a chance to play your in-state rival. Sometimes you’re like, do we really have to play them
again post-season, but we’re just excited
to finally get a chance to play after having to sit
for a couple of days. But, just these girls
did a great job. We stayed resilient today,
and thankful that we got the win and we get to move on
and continue having fun playing this game. Questions? Abbey, during
Mississippi State’s rally, you know, that ball
goes off your glove, and I saw your teammates
encouraging you. And then you go out
and you hit that grand slam. The redemption there, what was
that feeling like for you? Well, first of all, because of
my defensive performance, you know, my teammates
remind me the whole time, I know Coach came over
one time and tapped me and said you’re good. Brittany was in my ear the whole time
saying me and you, so we got it, and so I
didn’t get down too much because at that point
my teammates are sitting there backing me up. But I definitely wanted to go up
to the plate and do my job, you know, to pick myself up
and to help out the team. So to come – to come up
and hit a grand slam, I know that’s pretty cool. And I was just thankful
that my teammates got on base, got the bases loaded for me
to go be able to do it. So that was pretty awesome. Coach, explain to me
12 and four. Twelve and four?
Yeah. What 12 and four?
Twelve hits. Oh, that 12 and four. Twelve and four. Well, 12 and four is they got
12 hits and we got four, but they walked us eight times
and we capitalized. Good teams do that. Good teams capitalize when
they want to give us free bases. And so – but I really thought
the turning point in the game was when the inning
when we brought Finney in the ballgame,
got bases loaded, and she got out of that big jam. That could have easily just
deflated our sails even more. And that was a big
inning for us. And then, of course,
we come back right after that and get a couple
of runners on base, and then we hit the big blast, so, again,
that’s why this team is so good. We don’t have one superstar. We just have a lot
of great players on this team, and I think that’s why
we’ve had the success thus far. Those are unbelievable numbers when you look at the scoreboard
like that. You would – You would think with
the 12 hits that the score would have been different.
But – but, again, it’s a testament
to what these girls did. They took advantage
of those walks, and we made them pay for them.
And – and Finney did her job with –
even though they got hits, we kept them on ba –
I mean, I don’t – I don’t know how many
they left on base. Looks like they left
eight on base, so it’s always nice
when they leave more on base than we do and we win. Brittany, coming into the game,
you know, in that situation, what was your mindset
going into the game and just attacking the hitters? Well, first and foremost
I really wanted to stay calm. You know, I could see
that things, like Coach said, you know,
had the potential to unravel in that situation, and I think, you know,
being a senior and being, you know, this is pretty much
the last hurrah, like I think, you know, keeping
everything calm and just, you know,
cutting off the string, not letting it unravel
any more was really my first and foremost goal. And then to just go in
and do it for my team. You know, like they had
a lot of opportunities, especially in that inning,
you know, to make big things happen –
Mississippi State did. And I think one of the things I really wanted to do
was just shut ’em down. Just shut down any opportunities
they had and just really control – take control back of the game
for my team. (Inaudible) was there anything different
you did on those two that really changed
(inaudible). Yeah, I mean, you know,
they’re great players. They’re incredible players
for Mississippi State, you know. They’re hot bats,
great, you know, really big competitors
in the box. And I think every time
they get in the box, I just have
a little bit more grit. I just try to go
at them harder, you know, because for me it’s really big
to get them out. And it’s really big for the team
to get them out, especially with them
being back-to-back. And then even
(inaudible) more after that. You know, it’s just really,
really big to get them, and I think just
a little bit of pride. You know, get the –
get the big hitters, get the record-winning
girls out. Okay. Coach, you saw contributions
from so many different people in your lineup
and in the circle. Just the whole team effort. And you talked about
that a little bit already. But what does that say
about your team that you can have
so many people contribute even though you’re out-hit
almost three to one, and you still come out with such
a win, with such a margin. I think you said it.
It’s a team. We all did it. Everybody had a part
in this game, you know. Mikayla, our nine hitter who
– you know, I – I’ve talked about her
in a lot of interviews. Even though her batting average
isn’t great and people have mentioned why don’t
we get her out of the lineup, her on-base percentage
is unbelievable. She finds a way to get on base
to guess what – roll it right over top
for Becker who’s our – who’s our top hitter. And that’s – that’s what huge. It’s huge for us.
And somebody else finds a way. Somebody gets a hit batter.
They take good pitches. Battling counts and maybe
get a flare somewhere. Even though somebody
may get a strikeout, somebody comes up
and picks them up. And that’s just kind of been
the way this team has been the entire year. And that’s why it’s a team. What about your –
you’re new leftie? How was the first
– first big SEC – You talking about Molly? How – how did she
(inaudible). I mean, I think she felt good. You know,
when she threw at State, she didn’t have the best game. But we just felt like go
with Molly again, give her – give her another opportunity
to get out there. You know, we want to keep their
– their big hitters off bay
with that – with that really good changeup
that she has. And a couple of flares here.
We didn’t play great defense. They got a couple of –
three or four hits in a row, and I just felt like
the momentum was changing over to their side and I needed to switch it up
right away. And it was early. A lot of times we let Molly try
to pitch herself out of that. But we’re going to have
to try to figure out what we’re going to do
as we head into potentially regionals,
super regionals. So, being able to bring Finney
in in that situation, and a lot of it had to do with,
you know, we didn’t know
what to expect after Georgia, and all the craziness
that went on there. But Finney came in,
shut the door, did an excellent job, and really
picked up her teammate. Any additional questions
for our panel? All right. Thank you guys.
Thank you. Thank you.

Robin Kshlerin