NCAA Super Regional Quotes: Alabama vs. Clemson



June 11, 2010


Alabama Head Coach Mitch Gaspard
On another big game on the road:
“It is (a big game) and we have been in that same mode now for about three weeks, starting with the Tennessee series and then the SEC tournament and then the regional at Georgia Tech. Our guys have played well with our backs to the wall and just another big weekend that will be another big challenge for us.”

On what you take away from the Georgia Tech series, playing in a hostile environment:
“I think just the season in general, just to get through the SEC is such a grind and you play in so many hostile environments and big crowds. I think all of it makes you really battle tested and our team has performed well in that situation.”

On the team’s momentum:
“It is really big at this point in the season, particularly. The momentum and electricity in the dugout just seems to be growing week in and week out. We have really ridden the wave here into Clemson and really our two years have mirrored one another in a lot of ways with Clemson. Both teams have really played well here as of late.”

On goal of getting to Omaha:
“I know as a player that they realize it is two wins away, but as a coach you are just trying to play good baseball tomorrow night and into Sunday. We really just want to focus in on playing good ball and pitching and getting the timely hits and little things that you have to do. It is evident that the teams are two wins away and the ultimate goal is to get to Omaha.”

On the environment here at Clemson:
“We have been here two or three times and have yet to walk away as a winner. It is a difficult place to play. They have a great fan base and Jack Leggett is one of the great coaches in college baseball. So we know it is a big challenge in front of us but we like the position we are in and the mentality of our ball club.”

On similarities between Alabama and Clemson:
“I think just the way the year has gone - both teams got off to a quick start and then both hit a lull and then we did well at the end. You look at the batting averages, they are really similar and the ERAs are really similar so normally that is going to tell you that it is a pretty even matchup, both on the mound and offensively. For what they may have as strength we may have one in another area. I think it comes down to who can deliver a big two-out hit or who has a hot pitcher this weekend. That is what a super regional should be like.”

On the difference between the team that came here last year and this year’s team:
“Well right now our team is on a real run. We have played extremely well over the last few weeks so we are coming in with a lot of momentum. Last year we had the injury to Jake Smith in the SEC tournament and we were going the other direction mentally. This team is going in a positive way right now and everybody is playing good baseball."

On UA pitching coach Kyle Bunn:
“I think he has been able to get across his mentality to our pitchers. It has been like our team, it has been a process to get to where we are now and I think you can see the growth in our pitching staff and the mental toughness they are showing. He has brought an awful lot to our pitching staff and our team as well.”

Junior Shortstop Josh Rutledge
On team’s mentality heading into Super Regional:
“We’re very confident right now, playing well, and we’re just going to try to continue to play the same way we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks.”

On recent play:
“A few weeks ago, we almost didn’t make the SEC tournament and now we’re only two wins away from Omaha. It was definitely hard to imagine that going into the tournament. We had our backs against the wall and that’s what set us off. We knew that if we didn’t win, we wouldn’t be playing anymore. We have great chemistry on this team and we wanted to keep playing together for as long as we could.”

On pitching and hitting:
“Our confidence has continued to grow. We don’t have to score as many runs because our starters and relievers have been doing so well. Everyone is throwing strikes and getting outs and that gives us a greater opportunity to play our game and not worry about the other teams. When pitchers are confident and throwing strikes, the whole team feeds off of that confidence.”

Junior RHP Jimmy Nelson
On facing ACC teams:
“Last week was the first ACC team I had pitched against, in Georgia Tech, and I was very impressed. They had a lot of lefty hitters and I hear that Clemson is the same way. I have a lot of respect for every hitter in the game, no matter what team, and I will attack the zone as much as I have the entire year and let the defense do the rest.”

On similarities between Alabama and Clemson:
“I don’t know about their ups and downs, but sometimes teams go through skids and whether or not you have a good season depends on how you react to that skid. This team has done a great job bouncing back in the last month and a half.”

On Clemson right fielder/first baseman Kyle Parker:
“I’ve heard about him but I’m just going to respect him like I respect any other hitter. I’m still going to attack, good stuff for his good stuff.”

On Alabama’s current play:
“We can’t take anything for granted, especially after the slump that we had in the middle of the season. That slump was good for us. It makes us realize what that feels like and realize we never want to go back there again. It gives us a little more drive to play well. We know we’re two wins from Omaha and that was one of our major goals at the beginning of the season.”

On Clemson’s big bats:
“It doesn’t really matter to me if a team has big bats like Auburn and Georgia Tech or if it’s a team that plays small ball, I just go out and play. I just like competing and pitching. I feel like the quality start is expected of me now and I’m just trying to give my team a chance to win.”

Junior Second Baseman Ross Wilson
On success in the postseason:
“I don’t know. I guess I went into the SEC tournament and started swinging the bat better. I just got hot and have been more consistent. I was just trying to have a good at-bat every time. I like having a little bit more pressure.”

On different people stepping up this postseason:
“I think that is huge. Not one person can do it every day. Whether it is Jon Kelton, hitting the big home run when he usually doesn’t do that, or (Josh) Rutledge having a big game or (Taylor) Dugas hitting a big home run. I think it has been someone different every day that has contributed. I think Clay (Jones) didn’t swing well in the couple of games before he hit that big home run. It is things like that and letting things go because there may not be a tomorrow so you have to stay with it.”

On majority of postseason runs coming with two outs:
“I don’t think we have even thought about that. We did have that big rally the other day with two outs. The biggest thing in the postseason is you can’t give an at bat away. I think, even with two outs, in the middle of the season you might give one away, but here every at bat is special and you never know when it will be your last one. You just have to stick with it and grind it out. We have been talking about having competitive at bats every time and I think that is something we have bought into.”

Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett
On Alabama’s strengths:
“Well they are pitching pretty well right now. They have had some complete games out of their pitchers and good relief pitching. They also have some guys in the order that can swing the bat and are dangerous and they have been playing really good defense. I think they are a very balanced team.”

On similarity between Alabama and Clemson’s season:
“We started off strong, but hit a lull in the middle of the season and just tried to keep our confidence going. We manufactured a way to get back in the ballgame during the course of the season and kept our heads in the game. I think we did a good job of that and our players kept on battling and working hard. We have been playing good baseball lately after the end of exams and hopefully we can keep on going.”

On environment here in the postseason:
“This is a great place to be as a coach and during regional time. Fans come out and have scoffed up every ticket available, there is standing room only and we expect those to be sold. Have every available place in this side of the fences cheering for Clemson. It is an exciting and electric atmosphere and we are just so glad everything worked out so that we can play at home. It doesn’t ensure a victory though, so we have to go out and win. I think all good athletes feed off the environment whether it is for you or against you so you have to utilize it as motivation and hopefully we can do that here at home.”

On UA pitching coach Kyle Bunn:
“He has done a nice job for them and he is obviously got some pitchers in good shape with those complete games lately. It has spurred them on and they are playing very well at the end of the season.”

On young pitchers stepping up at Auburn:
“Coach Pepicielli has done a great job with our kids and has a great relationship with our players. He has had a tough task because we have a lot of young players that we are relying on. It caught up to us in the middle of the season, but they have matured and given us some good innings lately. We are counting on those guys to give us some innings this weekend. I think they have all matured and gotten better, even the guys out there that are older have gotten better. I like the way that he has done things for our program and he has got them in shape and their minds right. Hopefully we will pitch well this weekend.”

On youthfulness of team and staff being a positive thing:
“There is really no substitute for experience.  At the same time, if you have enthusiasm and keep your mind focused where it needs to be then you can lend an awful lot to this baseball program, which Pepicielli has.  The kids that haven’t been there, I don’t even want them thinking about it.  I want them thinking about playing our game, playing baseball and trying to win.  They just need to execute their pitches, execute their at bats or execute defensively.  I don’t want them thinking about all those other things.  I really want them just thinking about playing the game, like we did against Georgia Tech and the last game against Auburn.  We didn’t think about what was at stake, we just have to relax and play ball.”

On pitching being the key this weekend:
“I think there are lots of keys.  Obviously you have to pitch to win, but you also have to hit to win and we are going to have to solve their pitching offensively if we are going to make a run at this thing.  We are going to have to hit and get base runners on.  We have to play good defense and not give them any extra outs because they are a good team offensively.  We can’t put any extra base runners on and throw strikes.  So there are a lot of keys to this weekend.”

Sophomore Third Baseman John Hinson
On excitement of home super regional:
“We’re really excited. We’re coming off a big win over Auburn and it’s great to be back home. This is what we’ve been working towards all season. Hopefully we can keep our momentum, get the job done and make it to Omaha.”

On no MLB draft distractions:
“I don’t think the draft was a big distraction in the beginning, but now that it’s over it’s definitely a relief. We’re just really excited and ready to play.”

On home field advantage:
“We have to come out here and play like everyone else. Alabama has a great team and coaching staff and we just have to get it done. We definitely hope to have our fans behind us. We want this to be the loudest place in South Carolina.”

Junior Outfielder Kyle Parker
On home field advantage:
“You definitely feel more comfortable coming back and playing in front of your fans and on your field. This is something that we’re going to be able to use to our advantage this weekend, especially having our fans behind us.”

On the MLB draft:
“It’s a big relief having the draft over. I was really happy with the outcome. I talked to the Rockies general manager a couple of days ago and the word was “just finish your season”. We’re not going to talk about any contract negotiations or anything right now. Now, I can just focus on this team and getting to Omaha.”

On team’s mid-season struggles:
“Our focus is different now. This team has the potential to be great every time we step onto the field. We had some moments in the middle of the season where we lost our focus a little bit and made some mistakes that really aren’t characteristic of this team. Now, we’re playing well when it counts and our focus is back to playing together as a team so that we can accomplish the ultimate goal of playing for a national championship.”

Comparison from last year to this year:
“I think being in a super regional last year is really helping us out. Everyone sort of knows what to expect and that might help ease the nerves a little Saturday night. I think if we just treat this like any other game, we’re going to be able to go out and just get the job done.”

Junior LHP Casey Harman
On pitching game one:
“It is exciting. It is always good to be back at home and they way things worked out for us it is going to be good to play in Clemson. It is just like any other weekend for us. It is just important to go out there and set the tone in the first night and get the win and move on from there.”

On going up against UA pitching coach and former Clemson coach Kyle Bunn:
“It is just going to be like another game. There is not going to be any hostility or anything like that. He made a move that he thought was best for his career and we have moved on. It is just going to be like another game for us.”

On if the atmosphere and crowd will play into Clemson’s favor:
“We played off that even this past weekend in Auburn even though the hype was towards the other team. That is something our team really fed off of and I know I like that as a pitcher. It will be great having our fans behind us supporting us.”