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 talks about this past weekend's sweep against Utah State, Ashley Maroda's Hitter of the Week honor and looks ahead to this weekend's series against CS-Bakersfield.
bleedCrimson.net: Can you talk about Ashey Maroda getting WAC Hitter of the Week?
Kathy Rodolph: I was very excited for Ashley because Ashley is doing a terrific job and just continues to get stronger and stronger. She really stepped up and helped in the middle of the lineup against UNM and the Utah State series. I definitely think it's the first of more to come.
bc.net: Ashley is the team's second WAC Hitter of the Week and both have been freshman (Hoku Nohara for the week of Feb. 18th - 24th). Can you talk about your freshmen and the contribution that they're making this season?
KR: I think our freshman group is by far the most talented group that we've brought in since I've been at NMSU. I'm very pleased with how all of them have continued to grow throughout the season and step up in pressure situations and really have come through in the clutch many times this season. I think they're definitely something to look forward to over the next four years.
bc.net: The Utah State series you won in three different ways, holding onto a small lead in the first game, coming from behind in the second game and then dominating in the third game. Can you talk about those three games?
KR: That first game I felt like we were still kind of holding our breath a little bit and maybe not playing with as much confidence as I'd like to see us. But we were able hold strong and get that victory. I felt like Utah State came out and battled hard against us and it was nice to see us hold late in the game.
Probably what I was the most excited about on the entire weekend was the second game was that we have not come from behind in late games many times this year. I remember we came from behind to beat Oklahoma State early in our tournament and basically it's been a long stretch since somebody has got ahead of us late and us to come back. We came back against UNM but we fell short. So I was really excited in that second game that with two outs we absolutely got determined that we were not gonna lose that game no matter what. We had strong contributions, I felt like Steph Hererra really sparked us and I felt like Stacy Lien absolutely put us on her back in that game. Basically the kids just willed themselves not to fall short, come close and not lose.
I felt like our kids finally freed themselves in the third game and we were back into an attack mode instead of focused on outcome. I felt like the come from behind victory, we felt like we had gotten some sparks going but we hadn't been able to light that fire. In that third game those sparks burst into flames and it was hard to keep us off.
bc.net: Last week heading into that series Kim Watson was still a little bit out of sync, how was her performance on the week?
KR: She's getting better with every outing and she's getting more consistent with every outing. I wouldn't say she's 100% yet but I feel like she's in a pretty good place mentally and physically and is really working to get that absolute command back without sacrificing her velocity.
bc.net: This weekend you have an out of conference series with CS-Baskersfield can you talk a little bit about this weekend's series and what you're looking to get out of it?
KR: Honestly we're hoping to continue to gain momentum and what we're really trying to do is narrow down each individual person's part that we're going to need to bring for the remainder of the season and we have games to actually go practice that that are non-conference. I expect Bakersfield to be a very talented squad. They've played a lot of tough teams this year and split with a lot of good teams. I absolutely feel like we're going to be in for a battle and hopefully the confidence and momentum that we gained from last week will carry into this weekend.
bc.net: Going back to the Utah State series talk a little bit about the importance of getting that sweep you went from 6th to 4th and are right back in the thick of the conference race.
KR: I feel like part of it, we started off with Hawai'i and Reno who has emerged at the top of the WAC and so we had tough competition right off the bat. We were able to get one from Hawai'i and honestly probably should have gotten two from Reno but fell short. I believe that we're definitely in a point in the season that we have not peaked and are continuing to grow so from a coaching standpoint that's exciting. I see kids that starting that might have stalled a little bit along the way, starting to get their wheels back under them. The best thing about the Utah State series is we had contributions from everybody on the entire team. That gave a lot of positive energy and courage to continue to battle even though we lost a lot of close ones.