June 4, 2019
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the national champions UCLA Bruins.
Coach, this is national championship number 12 at UCLA, but it's been a couple years. What does this mean to you and to your program?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: The history is as old as dirt. I'm so proud to be a part of it, player, assistant, head coach. This is about the here and now. This is about UCLA softball in 2019. This team got on a mission.
Last year's team, I credit them as well. There are so many of them that were here, got to experience that. We got a little heartbroken on how things were ended. They were convicted to being able to bring it back to Westwood in 2019. I completely credit them. They bought into the process, had each other's backs. There were so many selfless teammates. Not everyone got to get what they wanted, but they were committed to doing whatever they could to help this team. A gutsy, relentless, fighting team.
I am so proud they enjoyed it. They had fun. They had each other's backs. We knew we were going to throw punches, they would throw punches, we had to punch back. This is about 2019. This is about UCLA here and now. The one thing that I can say to speak to the program, to be able to be so proud for Sharron Backus and Sue Enquist, being able to win in every decade. We just finished in 2019 with another championship back to UCLA softball.
THE MODERATOR: Kinsley, G Juarez is someone who has great success against left-handed batters, you had a tremendous day yesterday, also tonight. Why were you able to have so much success? Take us through the last at-bat.
KINSLEY WASHINGTON: Just being able to watch film. I really felt prepared, trying to use everything that I had to get on base for my team. That last at-bat, really all that was going through my head was, Don't let Rachel go out and pitch another inning (laughter).
Whatever it took, if it was a home run, a bunt, I didn't really care what it was. Just anything to get it done.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes or coach.
Q. Kinsley, talk about the dogpile. What was the excitement like?
KINSLEY WASHINGTON: It was really exciting, also terrifying (laughter). I was at the very bottom, 22 girls breaking my shoulders. But it was all worth it. It was all worth with it. Really fun.
Q. Kelly, I spent the last couple days learning about the Bruins Bubble. Talk about what it means to have so many former players here to experience this with you.
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: First and foremost, if I can, I think overwhelmed with emotion. I'd like to stop and first address Oklahoma. What a phenomenal season they had. Have a lot of respect for Patty, her entire staff. A lot of big-time seniors we're going to see leave the game from Oklahoma that have really impacted our sport.
Definitely it's rewarding to be able to come out on top on a team like that. I told the girls today, I hope they bring their best game because it's even more rewarding when they do. They did. They showed up, competed. It's even more rewarding know we were able to throw the last punch.
Secondly, when it comes to the Bruins Bubble, I literally have been in the Bruins Bubble for 31 years. I committed to it because it is something that is bigger than all of us. Being able to represent the four letters, but also be a part of this family, you think it's a championship machine. But we are so much more than that.
The biggest part of that is the alumni, they come back. We graduate. It's hard being a Bruin. Athletically, academically, representing the tradition and history of this program. The alumni come back and support and that's their biggest strength. Seeing them in the stands, it brings them confidence. They talk to them before games, after games. Obviously Sue Enquist will always have my back.
The Bruins bubble is family. It's not easy being a Bruin. We're Bruins for life. They come back, give back, represent for the rest of their lives. I didn't see it last night. I didn't really feel it. But tonight there was a small little blue. We were talking about it. The whole stadium seemed like it was a sea of red. It was definitely kind of an advantage, so to speak, on energy. Our crowd was pretty loud. Doesn't matter how many, they were just as impactful.
Q. Rachel, when Shay hit that home run, it looked like you kind of laughed a little bit. What was going through your mind?
RACHEL GARCIA: It's just a little inside joke between all of us. That was just like our thing this entire week, was that every run I gave up, I looked at my teammates and said, We're going to be okay, we'll punch back.
Going back to Shay, me and her go way back. I think she knew what I was giving her. They're a tough team to throw to. I'm super proud of Kinsley for coming up with that huge moment as a sophomore getting it done.
Q. Kelly, you said yesterday that you were going to keep the batting practice routine. Did you?
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: I'm going to be honest with you. No, I didn't. The only reason, I was very clear for my team they felt pretty good, we just needed to stick to it. They just reminded me, Let's just do what we do.
Sometimes coaches will try to do too much, to get in their way. There was a great deal of trust in this team. They were very simple, clear, let's just do what we do. They came out and played their game.
Sometimes they need to remind the coaches to keep it simple, know they're prepared. And they were.
Q. For the players, describe why is this team built for these type of moments? What makes UCLA able to come through?
BRIANA PEREZ: I would say it's probably because of last year. Just the chemistry that we built. Then going into this year, the seniors, we had a whole group of seniors leading us, not one specific person. All the way down from that, everyone had each other's backs.
I would say at practice we practice one-shots all the time. Coaches put us under pressure. I think everyone kept us loose. Rachel just on the mound keeping us loose all the time, no matter what happens. (Indiscernible) had my back the entire time, keeping it loose, making sure I was having fun.
BUBBA NICKLES: Just being ourselves. We don't care who is in the other dugout, we don't care what's score is. We don't care about any of the pressure. We're just being ourselves. That's what helps us get it done.
KINSLEY WASHINGTON: I think we all got a taste of it when the announcer said, Can the captain come forward to get the trophy? All of us looked around like, We don't do that (laughter).
Just playing for each other all year and just playing at one unit is something. Just having each other's back from day one of fall, carrying that log up that hill. Day one of fall, just playing for each other.
RACHEL GARCIA: Just preparing for this moment all year. The coaches, Adam, our athletic trainer, just preparing us. Just making sure we're staying in the best shape as possible, just being able to outplay our opponents.
Like they said, we don't care who is in the other dugout, we're just going to be in this moment, play for each other. We did that.
BRIANNA TUATALAFUA: I think experience also comes a long way. Our program has been here five straight years. Every year we've been improving. That's just something that's really big for us.
I think this was just the start of something really special.
Q. Rachel, how would you evaluate your stuff tonight? With that, after the home run, you came in the dugout, did you and Lisa prep for a potential top of the 8th or not?
RACHEL GARCIA: It started in the bullpen. Everything was working for me. I felt super confident. I knew I wasn't going to be on my top, but I knew I had to focus. That was most important.
To be able to work with Coach Lisa, preparing, knowing they were going to come out better than yesterday, which they did. They're a great hitting team. I knew I had to work everything, keep them off balance, my down, my up, my off speed. Keeping everything 100%.
Yes, in that bottom of the seventh, we came up with a game plan for that next inning. We were prepared.
Q. Kinsley and Rachel, can you address about having all the alumni back there cheering for you guys, what that means.
RACHEL GARCIA: I think it's just super huge. I mean, we had alumni who were here in beginning of the week who went home but then flew out for tonight's game. I don't think anybody else would have done that, which I think is just huge. We know we have them in our back pockets. With them cheering with us, like right above us, I think that was quite, like, just amazing to hear. Just being able to know they were chiming in with us, they were bought into every single pitch, I think that was just awesome.
KINSLEY WASHINGTON: Yeah, just the love and support, they were giving us their all, losing their voices, flying in from who knows where, just taking time off from their personal lives to come support us is just really huge. No one asked them to do that. They just did it because they're a Bruin.
Q. Coach, you knew Sydney since she was in high school in California. Can you comment on this senior class, seeing them grow.
KELLY INOUYE-PEREZ: Yeah, I went through the line. Like I said, that class has been around. I definitely have known them since they were very, very young and recruited them. So know them.
I went through the line. I grabbed Sydney, I'm so happy you had such a great career, I'm so glad to see you go. But I also gave her a big, huge hug. She has impacted this game.
Her entire family, the Romero family, they're wonderful people. Doesn't matter that we're all from different programs. We're a part of softball. I just have a lot of respect for everything that she does.
I know there's a lot of seniors in that class. Credit them. Any time you have a class that impacts a program like that, can bring home championships, get you back to the series. There's a work ethic, a belief about that. That class will go down as putting Oklahoma in the place where they are regulars here at the World Series.
But I'm going to say it again: I'm very happy to see all of them go (laughter).
Q. Brianna Tuatalafua, you mentioned this has been a tough season for you offensively. What kind of an adjustment did you make mentally and physically to get your mind right for two home runs in the World Series?
BRIANNA TUATALAFUA: Coach Lisa definitely was a big factor in all of this. She told me, Whatever you do, make sure you're having fun. That's exactly what I did. I also made sure my teammates behind me were having fun, as well, to make this experience one to remember.
Q. Carrying the log, I may have missed that reference earlier.
KINSLEY WASHINGTON: My freshman year, one of my first days as a Bruin, we went to this freezing cold place, and they told me to carry a log up the hill. By yourself it seemed hard. When you have 20 girls having your back, walking in unison, chanting, it's easier. I think tonight we definitely carried that log together.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.
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