Weekly Coach Rodolph Interview :: 04/14/14 A big weekend for the team you were able to get a sweep against Bakersfield and after you got down 4-0 early in the first game of the doubleheader you really turned it on and were very dominant over the final two and a half games.
Kathy Rodolph: Because all of the teams in the WAC are new we’ve been kind of coming out to take a look at what the other team has instead of coming out and being as aggressive and assertive from the beginning. After game one we tried to make sure we corrected that and no matter who it was that was in the other dugout that we come out and be us. We play best when we’re aggressive and assertive and it makes our lineup very hard to pitch to. I was very pleased with our response and the girls did a great job of just attacking Bakersfield’s pitchers. What did you tell your team after you had gotten down 4-0? Was it just to start attacking?
KR: Statistically, on paper, I didn’t feel like Bakersfield could keep us off base and we had a lot of game left to play and that the defense was going to come and we were going to settle down and chip away. Lacey was just on fire. She went 5-for-5 and they walked her five times and they weren’t able to get her out and that definitely helped. And Staci Rodriguez got back on track. She had been a little bit out of sync since we moved her to the leadoff spot and her batting average came up about 150 points over the three games and she was a real tough out. I feel like hitting is contagious and when they started seeing each other be successful. We went through all of their pitchers and we were able to be aggressive enough to get all their pitchers on their heels. Game two of the doubleheader, Makayla McAdams threw a complete game and gave up just one run. At this point in the season how pleased were you that she was able to go the distance and give you such a good outing?
KR: Makayla has continued to get better all season long and I feel like she kind of a took a back seat a little bit to Alex throwing so many innings last year and when she first came, I don’t think she really understood the significance of throwing pitches to set up other pitches. Her accuracy has gotten a lot better. I feel like her knowledge of pitching and how to set up hitters has gotten a lot better and I feel like she’s gotten a lot better at varying speeds and is still able to throw in the mid 60’s and is strong enough to go all seven. It’s really nice to see her growing as a pitcher in all areas. This was her fourth complete game of the year but this year you really haven’t had to have pitchers throw too many complete games. How nice is it to have that kind of depth?
KR: By the end of the season your staff is not worn out when you don’t have to ride one kid. When you can get multiple contributions from a variety of kids and I feel like that has set us up to have a good run in conference. In the past you’ve had situations where you’ve had to have a pitcher throw the bulk of the innings, like a Kim Watson. Then you’ve had situations where you’ve only had two pitchers. How does your strategy change being able to have three pitchers interchange? They all have pretty even numbers in terms of innings pitched.
KR: I think that part of it, I think I got smart on really identifying early in the year their differences and how they could complement each other. In being able to sit down and talk strategy with all three of them and how they could work together, I feel like part of it was showing the plan and part of it was them investing and agreeing to the plan. In game three you had a 17-run first inning one of the most incredible things I’ve seen in a softball game ever.
KR: I’ve never in coaching seen anything like it. We scored 14 runs on two outs and we scored all 17 runs in the first inning and the inning lasted an hour and 15 minutes and what was most remarkable about it was that there was not one home run. It was basically good solid fundamental hitting everywhere and the wind did affect some of their defensive plays because the ball just swirls in our field. I think they were playing deep because of the day before and the power we showed on Friday and so when they did that, they really had to adjust to the wind and come in and then when we got them flustered they had some errors that I don’t think are characteristic of how they play at all. When you’re putting up a 17 run inning, how do you approach coaching that because obviously you’re not going to tell the kids to go get themselves out?
KR: I don’t ever believe in telling the kids to not play hard because I think that sends a mixed message. I think there were some opportunities that Cat could have stolen extra bases and she didn’t do that. I think it was as tactful as it could be because any one of us could be on the other end of that at any time. I think the kids played hard, they capitalized on their mistakes and once the inning was over and because we did have a good sizable lead we were able to get some of the younger kids some playing time and out of respect we made some changes and I anticipate if we see Bakersfield at the conference tournament I’m sure they’re going to want to make amends and we expect a battle. From their side, obviously you made some changes but it really seemed like after giving up a 17 run inning, they handled it pretty well. It certainly could have snowballed even further after that.
KR: That was one of the best jobs of continuing to play hard. I definitely tip my hat to them. I know if we were on the other side of that I’d want our kids to battle back and I felt like they definitely did. Lacey Rother put together one of the best weekends that any player could put together going 5-for-5 with a pair of home runs and six RBI and six walks. What about her game set her up for having a weekend like that?
KR: Lacey has put in a lot of hard work and Lacey is playing up to Lacey’s ability. When she transferred here from South Carolina I think she was still reeling a little bit and looking for her confidence. She’s always believed she could be a significant contributor and a great offensive weapon but I think she’s finally coming into her own and as her confidence grows along with her natural ability, she’s going to be a very tough out. You gave Celisha Walker the starting nod on Senior Day and she pitched very well. Pitching with a 17-2 lead, I’m sure is not something that anybody expected and she handled it very well coming off an hour break.
KR: I truly believe that Celisha could start for me or she could close for me. I feel like it’s worked really well to have her come in at that end of games with her composure to come in and close game for Makayla and Karysta. On Senior Day I felt like she should start, she could start and that she was going to take care of that game for us and I jokingly told her she was going to start and she was going to take us home and she just kind of laughed and said she would do whatever I needed her to do. You had a brief conversation with her in the top of the seventh inning after she had thrown a couple of pitches. What did you tell her?
KR: The wind was blowing and it was kind of pulling that outside pitch out of the zone so what I told her was to stay very direct on your pitches to home otherwise the wind is going to blow it. Bakersfield kind of experienced that a little bit. It looked like their pitchers were really throwing around the zone and I feel like the wind was more of a factor than you realized form the outside and Celisha’s pretty good at hitting her spots and doesn’t really walk many and I just went out and had a conversation with her about getting into her front leg. This weekend you take on Grand Canyon who is playing very well in their first year as a Division I program.
KR: Grand Canyon is a solid program and very well coached and they’re playing with nothing to lose. With no chance of making it to the postseason they’re just playing to prove that they belong and I think they’re very talented and I think we’re going to have to go there and play very clean defense and be aggressive and assertive offensively. What about their play and team has impressed you?
KR: They are very fundamental. I got to see them a couple times on television when they played Utah Valley and they are very well coached and hit the ball well. If you get caught not covering a base they’re going to be very aggressive. I think they’re going to be similar to Bakersfield in that they don’t walk a lot of batters and they don’t strike out a lot. They’re the type of team that’s going to put a lot of pressure on your defense and we’re going to have to hold defensively to come out on top of that series. This is the start of the home stretch for you and all the games remaining are on the road. What do you want to see form your team as you head down this final stretch?
KR: We’ve already traveled a lot, we’ve been the visiting team a lot so it shouldn’t shake us and that we dictate how we play. I don’t want to see us get on our heels and let anybody dictate the way we’re going to play. We’re at our very best when we’re aggressive, assertive and when we play Aggie softball. That’s what I’d like to see in the final stretch and if we can do that then we’ll be well prepared to go into the conference tournament.