May 28, 2006
Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly:
"First of all, my hat's off to Michigan. I think they're fantastic. They are a fantastic challenge. Carol Hutchins and her staff are fantastic. Our kids just would not be denied. They fought and fought against a very gallant team. We saw early in game one today that Monica (Abbott) was not going to have her stuff that moment, so we elected to rest her and go with Rhodes, knowing Rhodes is a good pitcher too, but knowing that we would have Monica if there were another game. That strategy worked.
"The last thing that I would like to say is that we challenged our team between games. We said, `You have played a 65-game schedule and your goal is to go to the (Women's College) World Series, and you are one game away from that goal. It is up to you. There is nothing else we can do. You are going against a top team, and you just have to be as tough or tougher."
On what Tennessee did to prepare for today's play
"We did some things between games last night. We did not just walk away and sleep for 24 hours. We had film session, and we looked at some things that we can do better. We knew what they would do; they just did it. They did not surprise us, coming out and trying to get a knockout right away. Who knows? If we had not changed pitchers, maybe we would have prevailed in that game, but you cannot look back."
On Tennessee's attempted suicide squeeze in the sixth inning of the third game of the series
"It was a squeeze, and they had a pitchout on, so obviously they picked it. Either way, they threw a pitchout. That's a great move by them."
On Tennessee's play
"India (Chiles) was fantastic. Katherine (Card) came up with a great hit. (Lindsay) Schutzler's play at shortstop today was like
(New York Yankees shortstop Derek) Jeter at shortstop. But India was probably the catalyst. These kids have a lot of heart.
They really wanted it, but again, so did Michigan. It was that kind of game."
On facing the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and intentionally walking Tiffany Haas to face Rebekah Milian
"All that studying of film showed us we would have a better shot against Milian in a lefty-versus-lefty than Haas, so we felt really good with Monica (Abbott) going against Milian in that spot, and it worked; she came through."
On Michigan pitcher Jennie Ritter throwing three complete games in two days
"I would have thought it would have played a major factor. By the sixth inning (of the third game), I was passing (Jennie) Ritter coming off the mound, she was gasping for air, but that kid's got more heart than any kid I have ever seen. She threw 209 pitches coming into game three today (283 for the series). I'm just glad we had Monica (Abbott) ready to go. This is not to say that Monica could not do the same thing (throw that many pitches), but I still felt we had a better chance if we had Monica going in game three (with rest) than Ritter (without rest)."
On the umpiring
"Umpiring never wins it or loses it. There are too many good athletes on the field. We may get a little frustrated, but one of the things that this team does well is fight through frustrations. It would have been easy for this team to cave after the way Michigan beat us the first game, but they knew in their heart they were not going to give up."
On Tennessee's upcoming match-up with UCLA on Thursday
"UCLA is going to be a challenge. We played them last year (losing, 3-1, in their second game of the WCWS). They are in the polls the No. 1 team in the country, and we will do our best to try and beat them.
"I don't know how it can get much tougher (than playing Michigan). (Jennie) Ritter is unbelievable, and they have some big sluggers in there, but UCLA has got a lot of cannons too. First thing I want these kids to do is enjoy the moment, then we are going to start preparing for UCLA in 24 hours or so and do the best we can against them."
On if there is vindication in eliminating the team that eliminated Tennessee last season
"No, not really. If anything, and I think these players would agree with me, I am sorry a team that great had to be eliminated at Super Regionals. I think either one of our teams would have represented everybody well at the World Series. I just think this was a tough one. We have a mutual respect for Michigan, and we are just sorry they are not able to go." Pitcher Monica Abbott
On being replaced early in the first game
"Yes, I was definitely a little disappointed at myself, because I did not come out like I wanted to. At the same time, I knew that if we had to go to game three, my team was going to need me to step up. I think that Ralph and Karen (Weekly) made a good call (replacing me), and throwing Megan (Rhodes) kind of threw them off a little bit. I think that was a great move. You just have to go with where the game takes you, and I think it was a good decision. No pitcher likes being taken out, but you have to move on and adjust from there."
On facing bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh in the third game
"That's what you live for: bottom of the seventh, two outs, bases loaded, up by one. I practice those situations in practice on the pitching mound."
On if her velocity was down a little in the first game (of the day)
"I was having a little bit of a mechanical issue that has plagued me throughout the season, but I knew I had to fix that for game two, so that's what I focused on."
On Michigan getting two infield hits in the fourth inning (of the third game)
"I think our defense is phenomenal. We have a great defense and they have made a lot of good plays, so I just kept going after batters and attacking their hitters. If I got a strikeout, great. If the defense makes the play, great."
On having a close 1-0 game
"I think we all kind of stayed focused on the game. It was a little bit of a pitcher's dual for a while and one run is key. I thanked Kat (Card) for coming through (on her game-winning RBI)."
On what she did the first game after she was replaced
"I was trying to cheer my team because I felt like we going to come back and win that, but Ralph and Karen (Weekly) and everybody else told me to bite my tongue and sit there and focus mentally for the second game."
Rightfielder Katherine Card
On her RBI single to right center in the third game
"It was a changeup, and I was just trying to foul it off and get something better, but I'll take that any day."
On the deciding game of the series
"It was nice knowing all we had to focus on was one game right there, but the seniors, we wanted the first game (today) to be our last game at Tyson (Park), and it was a little disappointing (losing that game). The three of us got together and told ourselves to take the pressure off, no matter what happens, and focus on this win right here."
On if Monica Abbott being rested for the third game was a boost
"I think it definitely ended up helping us, but like I said, our team wanted that first win, but it's nice knowing that you have an All-American on your bench, who's resting up in the shade, ready to go for the second game of the day."
Shortstop Lindsay Schutzler
On her force play at second in the first inning and how close it was
"It was actually really close. I fielded the ball thinking 2, and I looked up -- I was going to throw it to Liane (Horiuchi), and I saw her running by and I just decided to take it myself and just got lucky I got there in time."
On the infield hit to her in the bottom of the seventh
"I did my best to make the play; I thought that I made it (the throw to first in time), but there is nothing you can do about it. I'm just glad we got the win."
On facing the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh
"I was just thinking, the ball's coming to me - make the play. I knew that ball was coming to me and make the play, no matter what. That is what was on my mind right there."
Leftfielder India Chiles
On scoring the lone run of the game
"I just told her (Monica Abbott) to go out and take care of business (after UT took the 1-0 lead). The game was not over. "It felt really good to be the first team to score, but I'll be honest, I did not think that was it. Going into the seventh, everybody was saying, `Let's get some insurance runs.' It felt good to score first, but by no means was the game over." On how much tougher it was to hit after Michigan third baseman Grace Leutele moved in a few steps when she batted "She made a good adjustment, taking away the bunt game a little bit. But when we are at bat, we do not focus on that. We stick to our process and play ball."
Head Coach Carol Hutchins
"I congratulate Tennessee. They had an awesome comeback. We had 24 hours to adjust (from yesterday's loss). They had 25 minutes (after the loss in Game 2 today). (Tennessee pitcher) Monica Abbott is as tough as nails. It was a tough game to lose. I'm just proud of our kids."
On Michigan's senior class
"We've got great players. I start with (pitcher) Jennie Ritter and the rest of our senior class. They came to play for Michigan. Our younger players just kept getting better. I just want to develop kids to play for Michigan. (Third baseman) Grace (Leutele) played outstanding. Talking about the five seniors is the hardest part for me. It will make them cry, and make me cry, too. They won my heart and won a national championship, too."
On Tennessee Shortstop Lindsay Schutzler
"She's an outstanding talent. I don't have to tell you people in Tennessee that. When I coached her last summer for two weeks, I was wondering how we ever got her out in the (2005 Women's College) World Series. She's a great shortstop, but I think she's an even better outfielder."
Pitcher Jennie Ritter
On her pitch count for the day
"I just focus in the postseason and do whatever it takes for my team. If it takes 1,000 pitches, I'll throw 1,000 pitches. I'll do whatever I have to do for my team. Tennessee did what they had to do. It (the game-winning hit) wasn't where I expected it to be." "I was just on cruise control. I just was out there to do whatever it takes."
Catcher Becky Marx
On whether strategy for today included her hitting a homerun "We had a session last night. We had nothing to lose today. It was all out or nothing. I just knew that I had to swing."
On hitting Monica Abbott early in the first game
"I don't know if it was her as much as it was us. We had nothing to lose. We had to get to the pitcher. Tiffany Haas did a great job. I think it was us getting to her."
On atmosphere surrounding today's games
"It was like Michigan and Tennessee were playing a best-of-seven championship series. These were two World Series caliber teams playing in the regional. With bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, I told Rebekah (Milian) that she was still my best friend whether she got a hit or not. It was just lots of great atmosphere."
Designated Hitter Tiffany Worthy
On her hitting today
"I was just keeping my focus and seeing the ball. I was taking one pitch at a time. I was playing for something bigger than myself."