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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Rodolph Interview :: 02/19/08 | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Rodolph Interview :: 02/19/08

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bleedCrimson.net will be conducting weekly interviews with Aggie women's softball head coach Kathy Rodolph throughout the 2008 season as the Aggies take aim at the WAC title. In this week's interview Coach Rodolph recaps last weekend's tournament and looks ahead at this week's competition starting on Wednesday night with UTEP and continuing in the Troy Cox Tournament.

bleedCrimson.net: This weekend's games, the theme seemed to be "big innings". Can you talk about that and your overall thoughts from the weekend?
Kathy Rodolph: I feel like on Friday night North Dakota State came out very aggressive and hopped on us and we were just flat out not prepared for them to be that aggressive. I felt like we were not as prepared as we needed to be and honestly felt like we may have overlooked them. Hopefully that's not gonna occur again. I feel like that kind of set the tone and put us on our heels. If you look at what we did offensively with runners in scoring positions we hit about 100 points lower when we had runners on than when we didn't, which is crazy. We have to learn to be clutch and I also understand that I'm relying on five freshmen but I also believe that they have the ability and so need to step up and get it done. I also believe that we cannot continue to average six walks per game and not have it hurt us because it constantly puts too much pressure on our defense and silences our bats because we press when we come back offensively. Hopefully before we play UTEP tomorrow night [Wednesday] at home we're gonna correct some of those things.

bc.net: Your team had 10 errors in the five games, how much of that is the youth of this team still trying to get a feel for playing together in games and how much is just nerves?
KR: The one that led us in errors was Kristi Hanan that was our shortstop from last year. She's coming off a recent knee surgery at Christmas where she had chondral malasia behind the kneecap and they had to go in and scape her kneecap and clean up her meniscus so her leg is not 100%. Not to make excuses, I feel when it was really cold she was stiff and she wasn't able to get her feet under her because she has a great arm and just did not have anything on her throw. Maybe I was expecting a little too much too early from her.

bc.net: You touched on the North Dakota State game can you talk about the Colorado State game. You were down 3-2 heading into the 6th and they got a 4 run inning and that kind of stopped any of the momentum you had.
KR: I made a decision to bring in my freshman Kristen Marris and is was her first mound appearance against a quality hitting team and I felt like she started out okay and then got rattled and couldn't hit her spots and they capitalized on it. Then we came back and fought back but it was too much of a momentum killer to overcome. Colorado State is playing with a ton of confidence, they're very well coached, they have some experienced kids and I think that they're going to have an outstanding season this year.

bc.net: Against Illinois-Chicago you got two three run innings and your pitching staff and defense scattered 10 hits, can you talk about that?
KR: I was excited to get the win but UIC is going to be a different team in two weeks at the University of Arizona tournament. They had a severe case of flu or a virus going through their team and that was kind of indicative of how they played this weekend. They will definitely be a different team when we see them in another weekend after this at the University of Arizona and we're going to have to come to play. I was excited that we were able to hold somebody and also hop on them offensively and capitalize on it.

bc.net: The UTSA game is probably the one that hurts, you're up 4-2 heading into the bottom of the 7th and they get 3 runs can you talk about that game?
KR: We just to have more composure and we have to raise our expectations and love the pressure situation instead of shying away from it and hoping that somebody will give us something. Division I softball, the parity is a lot stronger and a lot more quality teams and everybody is going to battle every out and our young team has got to learn that if we want the outcome to be positive for us, we cannot get nervous in pressure situations, we have just got to continue to attack and play to win instead of not to lose.

bc.net: You talked about the parity, can you talk a little bit about all the upsets that have been happening early, Arizona losing three times this weekend, Texas A&M losing a couple times last weekend and a lot of the top ranked teams falling early?
KR: I can tell you that there is a lot more parity in softball and one team that is playing exceptionally well right now is Reno and they beat #1 Arizona 1-0 and held several times with runners in scoring position. I feel like they are definitely a tremendously improved team with a ton of confidence, in the WAC. San Jose State beating #25 Oregon State, Utah State beating Santa Barbara, I think the WAC is improving tremendously and I feel like some of the Top 25 teams that used to run all over everyone else, there is a lot more parity and a lot more kids that have played travel ball against a lot of those kids [from the Top 25 teams] and they believe they can absolutely play with them.

bc.net: Then your final game on Sunday against UT-Arlington, you're tied 2-2 heading into the 7th and you lose that one in the final inning as well.
KR: Very very disappointing because I felt like we recovered from UTSA. It was exceptionally disappointing to fall like we did but we came back out, we didn't just roll over and fell sorry for ourselves. We came back out battling but honestly we have to be more clutch in pressure situations and we need some of our returners to step up and we discussed that thoroughly yesterday and changed their expectations and to be able to carry us and show the young ones exactly what Division I softball is all about.

bc.net: Last week we talked about you wanting to get a little more out of the second outing. Can you talk about that and the how do you think their progress was from weekend to weekend two?
KR: I absolutely believe had an exceptionally tough schedule in the first weekend and we came out and played just as hard as we could because we did not want to get shellacked by the quality of teams that we were playing. I think without meaning to we let down a little bit when we came back and we didn't expect the same things from ourselves. We're not a team that can ever take the field and not give 110%, we're not that good. We absolutely are a team that needs to play with our hearts, play together, stay committed, stay focused and welcome the pressure that the game is going to present to you.

bc.net: After the first two weekends of play, who are some of the players that have really stood out to you and the staff?
KR: Absolutely Stephanie Herrera. I don't think she could do more for us. She's hitting around .500, she's already had five stolen bases, her on base percentage is close to .500. Her job is to get on for us and our RBI kids, it's their responsibility to score. I believe that Stacy Lien is trying to fill in and be that clutch hitter for us in the middle of our lineup and did a great job for us. We need additional help from Kristi Randall an outstanding hitter and normally our leadoff. We also need Angie Ortega to settle down and start to welcome that pressure, she's an outstanding hitter, led the state of New Mexico all the way through high school, was a .300 plus hitter for us last year that has just been trying to do a little to much at the plate. She just needs to settle down and be herself. Then our trio of freshmen in Hoku Nohara, Ashley Maroda and Brittany Clifton and Dani Fagan the transfer, I absolutely know they have the ability to be clutch and to come through and help us in situations and I think as they continue to learn to expect more of themselves that'll start to happen.

bc.net: Up next you've got UTEP who's 7-3 on Wednesday, what can you tell us about them?
KR: UTEP is much more experienced this year and they absolutely play well and they're going to come in here and bring a game. They're well coached, great rivalry and if we want the outcome to be favorable towards us, we better come to play.

bc.net: What kind of team do they have offensively and pitching wise?
KR: They've got a senior in the circle, Nichole Tunget. They actually have two or three pitchers that can hurt you in a variety of ways and they absolutely swing it. They're going to put non-stop pressure on our pitchers and we better be able to move the ball around because they can swing it.

bc.net: This weekend you've got the Troy Cox can you talk about the tournament?
KR: The tournament itself, we're expecting great weather and that's good because last weekend the crazy snow I think surprised us all. I definitely believe the field of play is going to be strong with Oklahoma State out of the Big XII, Samford was a 40 game winner last year, Utah Valley State, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Indiana State. Indiana State is a solid team that people better not overlook because thinking they're from up north and won't have been out on the field long. They're a quality team as well. I don't really know who I would say is a standout, I knew Colorado State was playing well after seeing them out in Palm Springs was going to be a standout in our tournament and I knew that North Dakota State had a solid ball club with juniors and seniors in there. I think Oklahoma State is playing well and I expect them to come in and be one of the top teams.

bc.net: Up first you'll face Oklahoma State who is 7-3 and beat #15 Washington in one of those upsets we were talking about, what kind of ball club are they?
KR: They got a new coach last year, Rich Wieligman that was the hitting coach for Texas A&M and also played minor league baseball. Outstanding hitting coach and he's got them playing hard with a lot of confidence. They're definitely going to attack when you get on the field with them. So you have to have a mentality that you're going to attack right back if you don't they will intimidate you.

bc.net: On Saturday you'll face Indiana State who is playing their first games of the season, what kind of disadvantage is it for them and what kind of advantage is it for the teams that are facing them, some of them like your team, with two weekends under your belts?
KR: The advantage definitely goes to the warm weather schools that have already been out on the field. What you'll notice about the northern schools is that they're going to come out hitting real well but they're going to struggle a little bit defensively for the simple fact that they haven't been out on dirt. Fielding inside is a lot different than fielding outside so in order to capitalize against a team like that we have to come and put a lot of pressure on them with our short game.

bc.net: The second game on Saturday you take on Utah Valley State who is 2-3, what can you tell us about their team?
KR: Utah Valley State is an up and coming team that became a Division I school a couple years ago. I know their coach pretty well, I used to coach against Todd [Fairbourne] when we were coaching junior college and Utah Valley was still a junior college. I believe that they're going to come in and battle hard and whoever dominates early in that game is going to be the one that comes out on top.

bc.net: Then your first game on Sunday you take on Samford who is 3-6, what can you tell us about their club.
KR: I've never played them before or been at a tournament where I've seen them so they're going to be relatively new. We're going to get some scouting in early on them Friday and Saturday and hopefully be prepared for them on Sunday.

bc.net: You finish up with Texas A&M CC who is 3-4, what can you tell us about them?
KR: They got a new coaching staff this year relatively early in the fall. I feel like if we come out and play our game and are extremely aggressive, I think the outcome could be very positive for us but they are going to be an outstanding hitting team.

bc.net: You talked a little bit about scouting, with these early tournaments and playing four or five different teams in a weekend, what's your scouting process and having such a short turnaround time?
KR: Basically you have the opportunity to scout new hitters, new freshmen, figure out a game plan of who on my pitching staff, up zone, down zone, junk or speed would be better suited to go against a type of offense the other team is going to run. You get an opportunity to see how other coaches attack their hitters and what's successful and what you might want to avoid or stay away from.