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 week's victories over Georgetown and their play in the UNLV Invitational and looks ahead at the doubleheader against UTEP on Wendesday and the San Diego State tournament.
bleedCrimson.net: Last week you bounced back nicely from the U of A tournament putting together three consecutive run-rule wins, Georgetown 8-0 and 9-1 and then Southern Utah 9-0. Can you talk about the two games against Georgetown?
Kathy Rodolph: We were excited to be back home because it's tough to be on the road as much as we've set our schedule but I think we're learning to adjust to that. I feel like when we got an opportunity for the doubleheader with Georgetown the kids came out determined they were going to start out real aggressive and try to rebound from all the errors the weekend before. That was really our emphasis in those two games and I feel like we were able to accomplish that.
bc.net: Can you talk about the tournament overall and then get into each game?
KR: The tournament at UNLV was loaded with tons of great competition. I was disappointed that we were 2-3, I would have been a little better if we had come out 3-2 on the weekend but with the caliber of teams that we were playing, I feel like our pitching was able to shut down some of the rallies and runs that we were giving up. I was real pleased with that on the whole. Our offense sputtered a little bit but we were facing quality All-American pitchers.
bc.net: In the first game of the tournament you had a run-rule win over Southern Utah. Can you talk about that game and what you guys were able to do.
KR: We absolutely hopped on them before they even had a chance to look at us. It absolutely set the tone for the game. I feel like they didn't have a chance to get their feet back under them and recover and I felt like we continued that very aggressive attacking from Georgetown in to that game and just dominate.
bc.net: In your second game you played against Portland State. This time you got the win over them, you got three runs in the first inning and then held on for the 4-1 victory. Can you talk about that game?
KR: I can't remember exactly who Portland State had after us but I feel like because they beat us in Palm Springs they might have overlooked us a little bit. We were able to hop out early and put a ton of pressure on them and it flustered them and by the time they got their feet back under them we were able to hold. Portland State is an outstanding team, they had upset Cal and upset Washington. They definitely will spark and get rallies if you allow them to. I was pleased that in the circle we kept that to a minimum.
bc.net: You played host UNLV, it was a close game. Unfortunately you came out on the losing end of a 2-1 score. Can you talk about that?
KR: UNLV is an outstanding team and obviously they are strong at home. That Wednesday they lost to UCLA 1-0. Their pitcher only gave up four hits to UCLA, she's an outstanding pitcher. They beat #1 Arizona State as well. I feel like we were right in there, we just needed a couple breaks to go our way.
bc.net: Up next you played #20 Ohio State which was also a close game. They got a couple runs in the top of the seventh inning to go up 3-0 but you came right back in the bottom of the seventh and scored a run and despite not winning you were able to avoid the shutout. Can you talk about that game?
KR: Kim Reeder is an All-American senior pitching for Ohio State and she's legit. She's the real deal. She had had several no hitters already on the season and at some point in the game walked somebody and hit Angie Ortega. But what I liked about that game is we continued to battle and put pressure on her. We hit some really solid line drives. Hoku [Nohara] hit a monster hit into a 30mph wind that was caught at the fence. Stacy Lien's ball where we scored at the end was into a 30mph wind at the fence, the kid didn't catch it but any other day it would have been out of the park. That could have very easily been a 3-3 ballgame. Ohio State is definitely Top 20 and I was pleased with the way we played defensively and how we held. You just hope a couple of those balls that could have gone out or line drives that went right at people start to go our way because we're real close.
bc.net: The final game you faced another Top 25 caliber team in Oregon. They started out the season ranked but have fallen out of the polls. Can you talk about that game?
KR: I really feel like in Oregon, we had a couple opportunities to swing it back our way. We really battled late with runners in scoring position in the seventh and really put pressure on the. The problem was I feel like by the time we got to Oregon, our confidence was down a bit at the plate. So we are working now, every day, to look at video tape to show the kids that their swing hasn't changed, just like they terrific hitters at the beginning of the season, they're terrific hitters, it hasn't gone anywhere, the only place the game has changed is in our minds. We're working real hard to recover that confidence we had before going up against 13 Top 25 teams.
bc.net: One of the things that this weekend, you had some outstanding pitching and you only had five errors all last week, that has to be something that you're real pleased with. Can you talk about your pitching and being able to pitch well against some very quality offenses?
KR: I feel like as a staff, we've got three pitchers who are holding us in there. Kim Watson, Sammie Dillard and Vanessa Fitzgerald and I feel like in tandem with each other, we're able to show several different looks. Vanessa's left handed, Kim and Samantha are right handed. So what we're trying to do is just be able to keep people off balance. We're challenging people in the circle to stop big rallies. The one home run or the one double or triple is not going to hurt you. It's how you do mentally with the next batter to not allow those rallies. I think my kids are starting grow and mature and understand that. Don't get so rattled that you hung one pitch that you turn it into a momentum changer.
bc.net: This week you have seven games, you start out tomorrow with UTEP who is 10-2 since you beat them. You play a doubleheader in El Paso with them, what can you tell us about your second and third meetings with them?
KR: It's absolutely going to be a tough series. I know playing UTEP at home, they're a lot stronger on their field as almost anybody is. I know there's a big push to get a ton of fans there. Anytime we're playing UTEP or UNM, it's a great university rivalry. There's no doubt in my mind after we played them here, if we're to come out on top we're going to have to play well. It'll definitely be an emotional game for us.
bc.net: This weekend you head out to San Diego for the SDSU tournament and up first you face Long Beach State who is 15-8, another traditional power. They've played a very tough schedule, and have a great pitcher Brooke Turner who was named National Player of the week last week, she's 8-2 with an 0.59 ERA in 70 IP with 89 strikeouts. What can you tell us about them?
KR: They've played Hawai'i three times and beat them all three times. There's no doubt in my mind that they're going to be exceptionally tough. They do have an outstanding young lady in the circle who's one of the elite riseball pitchers. It'll be interesting to see whether we face her. They also have another tough game that night against Texas A&M. I don't know who we'll face but there's no doubt in my mind that any time in the ballgame that you have a close game you could end up facing her whether she started or not. Long Beach is definitely going to be loaded with terrific talent and it'll be a challenge for us.
bc.net: After that you'll be facing another Top 25 team, the host team #17/21 SDSU (19-8). They've also played a very tough schedule and they were at the first Cathedral City tournament with you, did you get a chance to see them at all, what can you tell us about them?
KR: I did. I actually watched them. They are very smooth, very fluid, a lot of upperclassmen, they're going to be really tough.
bc.net: What kind of team are they and what do you hope to be able to do against them?
KR: They're definitely somebody that's going to put continual pressure on you. They've got a good mixture of speed and power. Defensively they're going to play exceptionally solid, I don't expect them to cough anything up or give us anything. Anything we get we're going to have to earn. We're going to have to capitalize on every break we get. We're going to have to score those runners that get into scoring position. They're going to be able to stop big rallies too so that's where we need to begin to be clutch.
bc.net: After that you face Iowa State (18-4) who you saw two weeks ago in Arizona, they won 6-1 but they got all six in one inning. What can you tell us about this second time around with them? What does your team need to do to come out with a win?
KR: Well, definitely the game against ISU, we just had a mental meltdown in the second inning and started throwing the ball around. That was probably the most disappointing game of the whole weekend at Tucson because we should have never allowed six runs. It was absolutely us losing our composure and throwing the ball around. To get the opportunity to play them again, hopefully they'll get to see the real New Mexico State team.
bc.net: Then you face San Diego comes in at 8-15, what can you tell us about their program and what do you see in this matchup with them?
KR: Well looking over the teams they've beaten, they're still going to be a tough team to beat. I think we'll be playing them at their field. So playing them on their home field, they're going to be tough. They're in Portland State's conference. Looking at play by play they look real similar. They're going to have a good mix of speed and power and I expect them to be tough on their home field.
bc.net: Then in your final game you face Utah who is 10-10 on the season but beat the Longhorns in Austin, and have three outstanding pitchers and opponents are only hitting .211 against them, what can you tell us about Utah?
KR: We played Utah last year and got beat pretty bad by them out in Tampa in the South Florida tournament. I've seen their pitchers, they vary the speed very well, they keep you guessing. We're going to have to get in there early and see pitches. If we allow them to get us on our heels early we're going to be in trouble.