NCAA Regional Coverage: Thursday
Texas A&M met with members of the media on Thursday as practices took place prior to the start of the NCAA College Station Regional. MP3 audio is available through the link to the right and a video recap will be posted soon.
Head Coach Jo Evans
We're really excited to be hosting Regionals. We're really impressed with the group of teams that are meeting here. It's a great pitching Regional. It's going to be fun to see all of the great pitching and we're excited to play in from of all of our home fans.
On being confident or complacent at home
I've never known our team ever to be complacent at home so I don't worry about that a bit. We get really fired up to play at home. We feed off of our fans, but we always say that it's our job to get our fans in it and not their job to get us in it. I think our team does a really good job responding here at home and playing very relaxed. Last year we were undefeated at home and this year we've dropped four at home and three of those are to two of these teams in the top 16, and the other was Houston, who's in the Tournament as well.
On hitting well
Our kids have worked really hard at it. As a coaching staff we sat down and said that we need to get better with our strikeouts. Last year I thought we struck out way too many times. We've certainly improved in that area and I think that makes a big difference. We're a better two-strike hitters than we were last year, and the other thing is we're a year older. You don't see any new faces on our field starting for us, but we're still a young team. Last year you saw a bunch of freshmen and sophomores and this year you're seeing a lot of sophomores and juniors and a couple of seniors and I think that that experience has made a big difference as well.
On senior left fielder Natalie Villarreal
She's just a great all-around player. She's as great offensively as she is defensively. She's just one of those quiet, silent assassin kind of players. She doesn't say much. She just shows up and really cares. She really has great passion for the game, even though you won't see her be real emotional. That's not her style. She's a steady, steady player, one of the most consistent players we have day-in and day-out. She got in a little slump during conference and we had her in the leadoff spot, which we love her at. We ended up moving her down to the eighth and she's just caught fire down there. It's been really nice to have that kind of punch down there in the bottom of the order. Emily Albus bumped in there at leadoff and she did such a great job that now I can't switch it. I've got to stick with what's working. Natalie is a very committed ballplayer and she wants this really bad. She wants to be in the World Series and play for a Championship. In the first at bat when we moved her into the eighth I think she hit a double. She got over to third and I said 'Geez, if I had known that I would have put you in the eight hole a long time ago.'
On sophomore Nicole Morgan
I'm excited for Nic. Last year she kind of struggled just to be a consistent. It's a tough transition from the summer ball/high school into college ball, especially at this level. I'm excited for her work ethic this year. She's really worked a lot harder at it and been committed and it's fun because she's reaping the benefits of that, so she understands that now: what I put into this, I'm going to get out of it. She's turned into a real threat up at the plate and you can see that. Her on base percentage is crazy high. She takes a lot of walks now, too. She's a threat to hit the ball out. Teams now fear her and it's nice to see her transition. She would love to be behind the plate catching but she plays first for us when Mel's out there pitching and she does a nice job for us. It's always hard for people to understand their role and Nic's doing a good job of understanding how she can help our ballclub.
We had the opportunity to watch them on film in conference play. That's all we know really, is what's in the scouting reports we've been able to get from other games and then that's the only video we've seen. I see them as a very aggressive, athletic, speed-type team. They're a team that's scary because they come in here with no fear. They're going to be a team where people don't expect them to win and people need to understand that Bethune-Cookman is a great program and they have been to the postseason before. This isn't some fluke that this team came out of nowhere. We understand that and we respect that and we respect them. Their coach, Chris Cochran, was in the Big 12 for many years as an assistant coach for Iowa State and then went to Brown as a head coach and is now at Bethune-Cookman. We need to understand that we need to make sure that we stay on top of our game and take nothing for granted here.
Junior Pitcher Mel Dumezich
On playing in her third NCAA Tournament
I feel that the junior class, we know what we're out here to do. My freshman year I didn't really have an idea about Regionals or Super Regionals or anything like that and I felt a little bit lost. But now we're a top 8 seed. This means a lot to us to host Regionals and Supers and we're going to go out with a bang here. We're going to make a run for it.
On why she works well with Meagan May
Since my freshman year she's been catching me a lot. She's a great catcher and I trust her with everything. She's one that studies the hitters and I study the hitters too. If I don't like a pitch and I shake her off, she usually knows what I want to call.
On potentially playing Missouri in the Super Regional
Missouri is a big rivalry for us. I think all of our games with them were by one run so (if we play them) it's going to be close.
Junior Catcher Meagan May
On learning from ending the season at National Champion Arizona State in 2011
Last year really showed us that we have the fight. We have what it takes. We just have to execute when it needs to be executed. Being at home is going to take a lot off of our shoulders because we just tend to do a lot better her. We're really excited to see how all of those dominoes falling into place are going to help us.
On potentially playing Missouri in the Super Regional
We love playing Missouri. It's that atmosphere of both teams really wanting to beat the other team. Those tend to be the most fun games. I don't know how they feel about it but I am really glad that they are going to be playing us here if they do come to Super Regionals.