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NCAA WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

June 4, 2019

Caleigh Clifton Patty Gasso Giselle Juarez Shay Knighten Nicole Mendes Sydney Romero

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

UCLA-5, Oklahoma-4

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the Oklahoma Sooners.

Coach, four pitches into the game, you're down 2-0, then all you guys did the rest of the way was fight. How proud are you of the efforts your team gave tonight?

PATTY GASSO: I don't think words can express it. We had probably, as you know, one of the worst games that we've ever played. To come back the way that we did, I couldn't be more proud of this group.

They fought their tails off. We played an unbelievable, outstanding team. They are solid top to bottom in their lineup. They got a phenomenal pitcher on the mound. They're very well-coached. It was tough.

They're on a mission. We're on a mission. But what we did today I'll never forget.

THE MODERATOR: Shay, you've obviously had a lot of big moments on this stage. To hit a two-out game-tying home run in the seventh inning, where does that rank for you?

SHAY KNIGHTEN: It ranks pretty high. Everything with this team, with this senior class, with these coaches, with the entire staff this season, it's been very special. For me to go out that way was just really cool. To be able to run the bases, see Sooner Nation, my teammates so happy and so excited. It has to rank at the top.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes or coach.

Q. The seniors, Shay, when you said the other day you wanted to go out the right way, in a great fashion showing what you were all about, even though you lose tonight, don't you think you accomplished that?
SYDNEY ROMERO: Absolutely. Win or lose, I think what's so awesome about this team is we praise God when we lose and we praise Him when we win.

I have never been around such amazing athletes and just people. It has seriously been the best four years of my life. UCLA is a great team. We knew coming in it was going to be a great game. I just had so much fun this whole tournament, this whole year. I couldn't have asked for a better senior year, honestly.

SHAY KNIGHTEN: Like Syd said, we praise Him when we win and when we lose. That's just the center of this team. Regardless of what the outcome is, regardless of where we're at, what we're doing, God is the center. That is my biggest pride and joy, is to know that I've been a part of this. I've helped with this. I've given everything I've had these past four years. This senior class, I am so glad we came in together because we've made some great memories on and off the field.

To just go out the way we did, although it wasn't the way we wanted, just the fight and the grit, determination that this team had was something I will never, ever forget.

CALEIGH CLIFTON: I couldn't be more blessed to be here with this senior class, just to be on the highest stage. Like they say, at the end of it we still praise God. We're thankful and blessed to be here, blessed to be with this senior class. We're thankful we competed our butts off, so we're proud.

Q. Shay, you talked about the feeling that you had rounding the bases. You've had those here before. Did that moment mark the end of your career pretty well?
SHAY KNIGHTEN: I'm very just proud of how this team has helped me become the player that I am. I wouldn't have done all these things or been able to do any of these things if it wasn't for my team, and mainly God. He's the one that's given us these gifts to do what we do.

I think to just finish my career the way I did, I think I just have to say I'm very proud, not just of myself but of this team, for allowing me to be relaxed, to play free, to do what I do, knowing that whatever I do, they have my back.

I could have struck out and known I could have walked in the dugout and they still would have been smiling, patting me on the back, hugging me, knowing that I gave everything I had.

Q. Coach, for you, having been witness to everything Shay has done here, what was it like for you to experience that moment with her?
PATTY GASSO: I know I got very animated. I was fired up. I don't really show too much emotion, but I think I went off on that one.

It was a pleasure to do it. I don't know, everybody kind of knows what Shay has gone through in her career. If it could have happened to someone that deserves it, she's been a star on this stage. Just understanding what these seniors have done, absolutely crazy. They won as freshmen. They won as sophomores, the national championship. They finished fourth as juniors. They were one hit away from potentially winning it again.

This is the best senior class we've ever had. It's very evident. Every single one of them here. Besides that, just the way they share their hearts. You hear them praising God, you might go, Oh, geez, really? It's on their heart. It's what they do. It's what we do.

Q. G, you gave up the two early home runs, but hung in there and battled. Talk about staying in there and giving your team a chance to win.
GISELLE JUAREZ: For me, it was just about, like you said, fighting back, giving us a shot to get back in there. They kept telling me, We got you. Like, We're on it. We're going to get it.

I absolutely 100% believe them. I know in between pitches, like, I say, It is written. God already has this planned. What's supposed to happen is going to happen.

I think just me knowing that, and that being my center when I'm out there, whether big things happen, good things happen, bad things happen, being out there in that circle when those kind of things happen, I continue to say, It is written, keep fighting back.

Q. Caleigh, you probably don't want to do a whole lot of reflecting right now, but being somebody from Oklahoma, what was it like to play on this stage with a program like OU?
CALEIGH CLIFTON: It's special. It's something that I dreamed of ever since I was a little kid. I came to the World Series. I was a fan of Coach Gasso, this coaching staff. It's special I got to live it for four years. I'm thankful and very blessed for this opportunity to be here.

I'll say it again. The senior class is so special. I'm very, very thankful that we got to share it all together.

Q. Nicole and G, you came in a year later, G just this year, to meet with these guys. These guys had to accept you. Nicole, I know you loved it here. Talk about what you think of this class.
NICOLE MENDES: They're fantastic. As good as they look on paper, they're even better in person. They've taught me so much more.

GISELLE JUAREZ: I have said this since day one, they're uncommon. You won't ever find another class like them. Not just as players, goodness gracious, but for them to, like, take me in, me beginning in January. Man, that's awesome. Sorry, I wasn't expecting this.

Man, I love them, every single one of them in this class. Like, they did something special for this program. They did something special for me this year by accepting me when I came on my visit, accepting me when I came in January. I opened up to them right away.

Just knowing they've set their mark, and set a standard, just did uncommon, unprecedented things, will be awesome, because I'm always going to have them as people, too.

Q. Caleigh and Sydney, you guys lost in a strange way yesterday. You never experienced anything like that. How tough was it to rebound for tonight, get yourself ready?
SYDNEY ROMERO: Yesterday was kind of a game where you just kind of got to flush it, got to let it go. I feel like we came out today, we bounced back, we gave it our all. I think that's all you could ever ask for. This team fought.

CALEIGH CLIFTON: Yesterday was just a character game. If it proved anything about our character, how hard we fight, I mean, this was such a close game. That's what we wanted for this next game. We did a great job of just flushing it, knowing we didn't have our best stuff yesterday, but we were going to bring it today, and we did.

Q. Nicole, I noticed a lot during the game you were out in centerfield pumping up the crowd. You always were talking to Sooner fans. How special was it to have so many people here supporting you?
NICOLE MENDES: I remember the first game of the World Series. I kind of, like, took a second, I'm back. We get to compete on the biggest stage. Just to have that moment to, like, look out and see all the crimson, to see our fans cheering for us, it's so special.

I can't thank them enough for giving me all they had in the outfield because I gave them all I had.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Congratulations.

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