bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the weekend sweep of Louisiana Tech?
Kathy Rodolph: Meghan Krieg is just an unbelievable pitcher and I feel like she really gave us a tough time all weekend long and thank goodness we were able to stay after it until we were able to come through.
bc.net: Meghan had given you fits in the first three seasons you'd faced her. How was your approach different and what were you able to do differently this time?
KR: I think that the hitters are a little bit more mature and a lot of it was that the hitters have seen her several times. Cat asked them to try to lay off the rise and make her bring it in the zone. I feel like on Friday night she had a little bit of difficulty locating her rise in the dry air in Las Cruces versus in Louisiana and so I think it was easier for us to lay off of it. I think on Saturday once we got behind, we had to defend that rise and that was a really tough battle.
bc.net: The first inning of the game on Friday night Louisiana Tech gets the bases loaded but they're only able to score one run. How much momentum did that give your team heading into the bottom of the inning?
KR: I feel that all year long we've really had to step up our defense and so we're unfortunately getting used to runners being on. I thought we really came through defensively and that really gave us a lot of momentum going into the bottom of the first inning.
bc.net: Your defense played really well all weekend long and in particular Ashley Maroda who has been rock solid for you at third base.
KR: Ashley had a phenomenal weekend and really guarded the 5-6 hole and we expect an awful lot out of Ashley and at 5'10" she has a lot of reach and really plays a tremendous third base. I also need to mention Kandis Jones who ran down two balls on the warning track and slid under them to save runs when it was a one run ballgame. I feel like the play of Kandis and Ashley really stood out defensively.
bc.net: Your team had a very good weekend in the circle, you got a very strong outing out of Kelsey Schueler in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, she pitched four innings and didn't give up any runs.
KR: Kelsey has great movement and she's struggled a little bit at times having great through the zone instead of having great movement around the zone. I feel like this weekend she was able to locate her pitches and vary this speed and she gave us some quality innings.
bc.net: Celisha Walker also had a very strong outing in the first game of that doubleheader on Saturday.
KR: Celisha did a fantastic job for us in game two, I rotated her out and I brought in Sydney and Sydney struggled a little bit to find the zone and then I re-entered her and then Celisha was a little bit rattled when I re-entered her and they scored right away but then I felt like she settled down and kept us in it until Teresa Conrad could come up in the eighth. I think we got four hits in that game and three of them came in the eighth with Teresa hitting a walk-off. A lot of things had to go right for us to win that game.
bc.net: Most of the time when a pitcher comes out they're out for more than one batter. How difficult is it for a pitcher to come out and only be out of the game for four or five pitches and then have to come right back in?
KR: It's probably a little more difficult for Celisha as a freshman than say Alex as a sophomore. I put her in a difficult situation doing that and it's not necessarily something that I expected. I had hoped Sydney would be able to come in and pump the strike zone and when that didn't happen, there wasn't a lot of room for error with Meghan Krieg in the circle. Right away we knew we couldn't give up many runs because we knew were weren't going to get many runs against Meghan Krieg.
bc.net: In that game you had the 2-0, then they score the two runs to send it to extra innings and then they get a 2-run home run in the top of the eighth to take the 4-2 lead. What did the kids talk about as they were coming off the field and as they were getting ready to go up to bat? Obviously you had the 2-3-4 hitters coming up which is obviously the situation you want to have.
KR: Kandis Jones has been tremendous for us all year long and I believe that when our back is against the wall, we are definitely playing with a lot of confidence and we are going to battle every pitch until there's no more outs to be had. I felt like initially when they got the two runs there was a little bit of "Oh no" and then it was just "We better get back to work." With Kandis, Tiare and Hoku coming up anything can happen.
bc.net: What did you see from your team in between the two games? To come off a really emotionally charged victory like you did in game one and then have to come out and reset for game two.
KR: We have tremendous respect for everybody in the conference and one of the fortunate things about our team is we do not take any game for granted and we don't ever overlook anybody. We knew that Louisiana Tech was extremely disappointed that we hit that walk-off in the eighth and that they were going to come out and push really hard in that third game and that's exactly what happened.
bc.net: You head out to Hawai'i this weekend but before you get to Honolulu you play Loyola Marymount on Wednesday. What are you looking to get from that game?
KR: We're hoping to be able to get out and start adjusting to the difference in time zones. We're two games below the 56 we can play and that's just because we had to leave a weekend open early in the year due to budget and so to try to get close to those 56 games we knew we were going to have to pick up a game or two on the road and so we picked up a doubleheader with Weber when we went to Utah State and now we play one at Loyola Marymount. LMU is a really solid team with a really good offense and so I feel like it's going to be a good challenge for us to be able to play somebody one time that you're not very familiar with.
bc.net: The Hawai'i series, UH is another team that you historically haven't had a ton of success against but you have beaten them twice in Honolulu.
KR: I expect Hawai'i to be very very strong and especially because of them having Stephanie Ricketts and Kaia Parnaby in the circle and just like facing Meghan Krieg this past weekend, those two are going to be exceptionally stingy with runs and so when we're able to get runners on we're going to have to be able to capitalize on getting those runs in. Hawai'i is somebody that when we played them last year at home, we played them very strong in the first game and then they handled us on day two. I definitely look forward to playing them but I understand that it's going to be an extremely challenging series.