bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the two games you played in the WAC Tournament?
Kathy Rodolph: I think any time you come out and score eight runs you expect to win and I feel like our pitching just came up a little bit short. Our hitters did a great job of battling and staying in there, we've just got to find a way to make stops when we need them.
bc.net: The second game, against Boise State, started out a lot like the first game against San Jose State but you were able to battle back and get the lead before losing the lead again. What did you talk about with your team after they had come back to take the lead?
KR: We were so disappointed in the night before and we felt like we had hopped out ahead but then we also felt like we didn't continue to make a push. Against San Jose that's what we reminded them. We had gotten a lead the night before but not continued. Sometimes when you score so much early your'e trying to hold on to it instead of continuing to play and so I felt like the kids really responded mainly because of the night before and knew that our backs were against the wall and we were going to have to push back every time they scored and I felt like we did a good job.
bc.net: Obviously your season didn't end the way you had hoped that it would but you still had a very successful season.
KR: I was very proud of the kids because we really went through some ups and downs and there was a point in the season that they could have very easily thrown in the towel and stopped battling. I think it speaks to the character of the kids that that's not who they are and they were willing to battle back until what they did was good enough. We just didn't have the experience in the circle that we needed but with that being said the kids continued to get better throughout the year and I'm hoping that experience will pay off for next year.
bc.net: When you look back at this season would say that this was maybe one of the more gratifying seasons based on the fact that the kids had everything going against them and you were playing elimination games for basically the final three weeks of the season and they never gave up?
KR: I feel like it was gratifying in knowing that they wouldn't quit and that they wouldn't give up and that we have a majority of the team back. All of us are a little battle weary and really need to rejuvenate this summer to come out and be able to utilize what we learned from this year and that is no matter what, our conference is a very very tough conference and everybody in our conference can hit. The teams just continue to grow and get better and no matter if you get a lead or not, nobody is going to roll over. If you're going to come out with a victory you absolutely have to earn it. I feel like we're all fully aware of that. We're going to have a big senior team next year. End of the year meetings went very well and they're all excited to come back and try to go out the right way.
bc.net: Carissa Theis and Alex Newman both got a lot of experience this year and Alex emerged as a stopper for you. Will she continue in that role next season or will you transition her more into a starting role?
KR: Alex did a tremendous job of stopping the bleeding and coming in in relief but I also believe that she's going to work all summer to fulfill whatever role the team is going to need whether that be still in a reliever role or step up into a starting position. I believe that Alex is the kind of kid that is extremely unselfish and will do whatever the team needs. Carissa just really got a lot of experience this year and now she understands what the drill is.
bc.net: What does your schedule look like for next year?
KR: I think the conference tournament is going to be in Spark, NV which is right next to Reno. I doubt seriously that softball is ever going to go to a neutral site just because we don't have the same luxury that baseball does, the best fields are the college fields. It's still a little up in the air.
As far as our schedule next year, we'll start off with our two tournaments at home. Oklahoma is coming to one of those, Minnesota is coming to one of those so we'll be bringing in good strong competition again. We'll be playing a doubleheader with Arizona here, we'll be playing a three game series against Nebraska at home. I believe we're going to UTEP's tournament, Arizona State's tournament and then start conference.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about some of the kids you've got coming in for this incoming recruiting class.
KR: Next year will be the smallest recruiting class since I've been here. We've signed three kids, one of them is a pitcher, Celisha Walker. She played in a top gold team in California. She's extremely athletic and I expect her to be able to come in and make an immediate impact both in the circle and possibly as a position player as well. We have a local player out of Albuquerque, Valerie Swedberg. The previous four years Angie Ortega had held the home run record for high school in New Mexico and Val broke it at the state tournament. Angie had hit 15 in a season and Val hit 17. We're excited to have Valerie coming in, she's a great utility kid. She can catch, she can pitch, she can play infield or outfield. She'll definitely help us with her bat and being a great utility player. Then we've got a catcher coming in out of southern California, Alyssa Ruiz. She'll add depth in the catching position after graduating Ali Baumhover.
bc.net: Your other freshmen that we didn't talk about earlier, the position players, were major contributors. What are you most looking forward to in the offseason from them as they prepare for year two?
KR: Tehani Kaaihue, Amber Olive and Teresa Conrad really came on and did a great job for us. They definitely pushed those juniors and made them compete and made them better. They're highly competitive and they definitely get what it means to play a three game conference series now. I think they're going to continue to bring competition as well as talent.
bc.net: What are your predictions for the two WAC teams that are in the NCAA Regionals, Hawai'i and Fresno State?
KR: I think both of them actually went to good regions. I believe strongly that Hawai'i has a legitimate shot of getting through their region. If they do and they keep swinging with the confidence that they played with in the conference tournament, Alabama in the Super Regionals is going to be really tough but I believe that Hawai'i can swing it with the best of them. They have the opportunity to go far.
Fresno is a very very talented team with some outstanding pitching. Hopefully their confidence will be at the level that they can play at and I think they'll make a strong showing in that UCLA regional.