Weekly Coach Rodolph Interview :: 04/02/08 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 this past weekend's series against Nevada, talks about the upcoming series against Louisiana Tech and talks about the opportunity to play against the world's best softball team on Sunday afternoon. Can you talk about the Nevada series?
Kathy Rodolph: Nevada is an outstanding ballclub and I feel like with Kim Watson out hurt this past weekend we struggled a little bit but Sammie [Dillard] and Vanessa [Fitzgerald] stepped up and did a great job for us. Talk about the first day's doubleheader, you picked up a 3-0 win in the first game and then lost a 3-2 10 inning game in the second game.
KR: Sammie did a terrific job shutting out Reno, they're 20th in the nation for hitting. I felt like she did an outstanding job of keeping them at bay. I feel like then when we got into the second game, Vanessa did a good job and I will take responsibility for that loss. I brought in our freshman Kristen Maris, who throws really hard, in the seventh after we had worked real hard to get a one run lead, thinking that maybe they hadn't seen her and that would kind of throw them off. Instead I think she came in a little nervous and kind kind of tubed it over the middle and so they were able to tie it up right away and it took a ton out of us to lose in 10 innings. In the first game they called an illegal pitch on Jordan McPherson, can you explain for the folks who don't follow softball exactly what an illegal pitch is?
KR: Basically both feet have to be engaged with the pitching rubber and Jordan's pivot foot, her right foot because she's a right-handed pitcher, seemed to come forward and was not halfway on the rubber at the time. There's different ways to have an illegal pitch, you can crow hop where you push off the rubber and become airborn and don't keep your toe in contact with the ground. 50% of your feet must be engaged with the rubber when you take the sign from the catcher. In the third game you had a little bit of a slugfest with Nevada and you ended up losing 7-5 and they got five runs in the second inning which is one of the bigger innings your team has given up this season.
KR: I felt like Sammie and Vanessa knew that Kim was out and they had to put us on their back and carry us and we kind of talked as a team and said that we were going to have to step up and score a few more runs to come out on top. Al in all I was exceptionally proud of how both of the pitchers did and defensively in that second game that went 10 innings, our outfield was just amazing, I think in one inning they made six diving catches. This weekend you host Louisiana Tech, they're 1-4 in conference, what can you tell us about Louisiana Tech?
KR: Louisiana Tech is a team that's going to come in and battle hard and they're going to make somebody beat them. I feel like in a way that's kind of the same way we are. Our kids are really excited to be at home and Friday night and the 1:00 game on Saturday are both going to be t.v. games which is huge for us. People all over New Mexico and all throughout the country are actually seeing our kids play on t.v. and so I expect us to come out real strong and real excited to play. Going back to the t.v. games, the 3-0 win on Saturday was televised. Can you talk about what being able to have a dominant performance like that on t.v. does for your program?
KR: It's huge because the program has continued to get better and better and now we get to put it on a national platform and others see it as well. I believe that Reno is ranked 40th in the country and I feel like we're right up there with them, we're just below .500 because we didn't come through in some of the Top 25 games that we played. All in all it's been a very productive season. So to actually get out there on a national platform and let others see the improvement as well is huge. On Sunday you host the U.S. National team, last week one of the pitchers your team has faced, Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher, pitched a no-hitter against them. Can you talk about how impressive that performance out of her was having faced her this season?
KR: There's no doubt in my mind, I've seen a couple of outstanding pitchers that stick out in my mind. One is Kim Reeder from Ohio State and Tincher is another one that is unbelievable. When you watched her you were thinking "Holy cow! Who is this?" Not only did she no-hit them, if she hadn't given up a walk in the second inning, she would have thrown a perfect game. That's unbelievable when you're going against the best 15 in the nation for your sport. She did try out for the national team but was not selected. I'm sure they are wishing they had taken her now.
KR: It's funny because when you're young you know that somebody has talent but that also shows how tough she is mentally. Can you talk about this opportunity that you have on Sunday?
KR: It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for our kids to go into a game and play against the very best of our game. We're going to do as much as we can to prepare them for Beijing. Every kid on the team will get into the game and we're just going to do the best job that we can in preparing them. Obviously they have two outstanding pitchers that everyone knows about on their team (Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman) and obviously great offense. How do you approach this game from a mental standpoint? Knowing that you're facing the best that you can possibly face?
KR: We've put our kids in a situation this year where we have put our backs against the wall and absolutely have played some of the very best in Division I. I'm sure there'll be a little bit of an awe factor. The thing we're going to encourage our kids to do is just to come out and have fun. It's a special day playing the National team, trying to do the very best that we can and no matter what happens, try to always have fun.