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COLLEGE WORLD SERIES: LUBBOCK SUPER REGIONAL

June 6, 2019

Tim Tadlock Josh Holliday

Lubbock, Texas

JOSH HOLLIDAY: Nice to be here. Nice to see you folks out here. We're glad to be in Lubbock facing the Red Raiders, and heck of a ballclub that we're up against, and second trip to Lubbock in I guess about six weeks, so you never know each year the unique circumstances and challenges that you're going to face, and obviously to still be playing this time of year is what we all shoot for.

We didn't have to do a whole lot of watching of film to get ready for this series, having already played against these guys and know them well and have great respect for them. We're glad to be here, and looking forward to a great series.

TIM TADLOCK: I guess first, congratulations to Oklahoma State, Josh and his staff and his team, for making the super regional and the year they've had. They've had a great team, great year. Also congratulations on the Big 12 tournament.

As far as the super regional goes and as far as the weekend series goes, our guys are looking forward to it.

Q. Coach Holliday, since coming to Lubbock and you guys got swept just over a month ago, what did you really see change in your team leading up to Oregon State and then ultimately winning the Big 12 championship?
JOSH HOLLIDAY: I think one of the great strengths of the Big 12 this year and many years has been the quality of play, quality of the players and the quality of the coaching, and when you come across some of the truly great teams that you go against, we have a tendency to reveal things in each other that we have to get better at, and you have a tendency to walk away from each weekend having learned something about yourself, and the adjustments that are going to be necessary if you want to continue to move forward.

I feel like the Big 12 every weekend this year did that for us, and the trip out here was definitely one of those weekends where we came away from it with a good idea of things we could get better at, a sense of urgency about making those adjustments, and then to compliment our players, the way they handled it and responded to it.

It's just part of your season. It's part of the great challenges that Big 12 baseball presents, and it's also part of why I believe if you can survive our conference week in, week out, you'll be prepared for just about anything you're going to see when it comes time to face the whole country. Just another lesson in the season, and we played better, we grew from it.

We've pitched awfully good. We've had great relief pitching in recent weeks, and we've had some stretches on offense where we've been pretty good. So just overall growing as a team and learning from the great challenges the schedule presented, and certainly from the quality ballclub here, Coach Tadlock and his staff do a great job. They're powerful kids. They've got a very diverse pitching staff, they've got a very dynamic offense that can score in a lot of different ways, so just a very good team.

Q. Coach Holliday, you kind of alluded to it, I know everyone is going to be focused on the home run hitting, but how important is the pitching, especially the relief pitching just for you guys down the stretch to kind of get you on this run?
JOSH HOLLIDAY: Well, we pitched our way here. We just pitched through a regional tournament where our pitching was fabulous and it was clutch at key times. So obviously it's a whole team effort, but when you're pitching really good and playing clean defense, then you can find a way to score just enough to get through. We've had games where we've pitched our way to victory. We've had some really balanced games where you would say, man, that was a great 5-4 baseball game with a clutch hit and a big swing, and then we've had a few games along the way where it might have taken 10 or 12 runs to win the game.

So that's just the nature of the college game. You've got to try to find a way to win each different type of game, whether it's a one-run game, a back-and-forther, or one of those games where you've got to rally from behind. That's just the nature of college baseball, you know, kind of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, it's just all the days seem to have a different challenge.

But I don't think there's any question about it that big-time pitching, really good relief pitching and quality defense keep you in games, and then from there you're fighting to get a pitch that you can hit.

Q. For both of you guys, what are your thoughts on facing another Big 12 team in the super regional, especially one that you faced just a few weeks ago, that you're now having to face for a super regional?
TIM TADLOCK: Well, the good thing is he and I get to sit in the dugout, and it's really up to the kids. I think the kids are excited about the competition. He said it in his opening statement; we're both fortunate. We don't take it for granted that we're playing this weekend, and probably at this point you need to play good baseball, you've got to go earn the right to win whoever you're playing.

JOSH HOLLIDAY: He's exactly right. The body of work in a regular season, we both had 55, 56, whatever number of games it was that were on the record for the NCAA committee to evaluate and seed the teams, and if we happened to be seeded 8 and 9, then that's how it matched up, then I think that's just the way the course of the season played itself out.

I've never been one to get too caught up in a lot of that stuff. I think from a familiarity standpoint, it's unique that you play a team that you're quite familiar with, but at the same time it's the way it lines up, and so we embrace the opportunity to play.

When the pairings came out, you heard there were some SEC schools paired up head-to-head. I believe there's one super regional where that actually ended up playing out, Mississippi and Arkansas, I think. Obviously we're here. So there's another intra-conference matchup. But I don't know if there were any others. So I guess it's just the way it fell. I really haven't given it a whole lot more thought other than that.

Q. Coach Tadlock, the status of the program, the growth you've seen the last couple years, you make the breakthrough to get to Omaha for the first time, now you're going for back to back trips to the College World Series, and just the development of the program and what y'all have gotten done to get back into this position.
TIM TADLOCK: Well, you've got to give credit to our kids and our administration. We've got support behind us. We all work for a guy that's really easy to work for in Kirby Hocutt. He's a baseball AD. He believes in college baseball and gives us everything we need to have success, and our staff has done a good job, a bunch of diligent guys, like baseball. Really we don't ever look at it from the standpoint the way you look at it. We try to put in an honest day's -- I don't call it work, but we just go do what we do each day, and fortunate to be where we are.

Q. Coach Holliday, Noah Sifrit, what's his progression been like and how has his role developed going from freshman year to sophomore year?
JOSH HOLLIDAY: Noah Sifrit has been a joy to coach. He's an awesome kid. He's had a role for us both on the mound and in the outfield. Pitched quite a bit as a freshman, has played a little bit more on the position player side this year. He's been a great teammate, a good role player. He's got great positive energy, and right now he's a weapon for us coming off the bench, and we can use him either on the mound or in the outfield. He's a really good runner. He does a lot of different things for us, and above all else, he's a great kid. He's part of a strong chemistry-driven team.

Q. Coach Tadlock, there's a lot of strengths of the team throughout the year, but what you saw out of the pitching overall, to only allow four runs in three games of a regional last week, how have you really felt like the pitching staff has come along and how they can carry you through to Omaha?
TIM TADLOCK: Well, I mean, really all you can do is wake up tomorrow and get ready to play tomorrow. You can't do much about Omaha tomorrow. What we can do is we've got one game tomorrow and the guys have prepared for that. They'll embrace the opportunity to compete tomorrow.

You know, this is a game where you're as good as your next one, and our guys understand that for the most part. They're amateurs, they're college guys, and there's been some distractions this week with the draft and all the stuff going on for all these guys, and you hope we've all managed it good and they're ready to go.

But you know, you're right, we pitched really good last weekend. All of them threw the ball really well. I know they've tried to do the best they can this week getting ready to go.

Q. Any decision on your opening night pitcher?
TIM TADLOCK: We're going with Micah Dallas.

Q. Coach Tadlock, on that note with the pitching, one of the guys talked to Connor Queen. I know he's only made a few relief appearances, but he said that especially since he's gotten here to the program that he's really had to grow up and develop and learn a lot. How have you seen him develop over the course of this year with the opportunities he's been given?
TIM TADLOCK: Yeah, his fastball command has gotten better. When we evaluated Connor when he was down at Odessa, we felt like he'd get right-handed hitters out right away. I really felt like it wasn't going to be an issue. He can go right and left now. He can get right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters. Slider is really good. He's a guy that played some infield as a junior college guy, also. He's been in a program and he's played catch with guys with probably more arm strength than him, and it's kind of the big brother effect.

I mean, it's one of those deals where you play catch with somebody that throws 94, eventually your arm is going to get stronger, especially over a couple of years, and you've seen that. He came in as a guy that was 88, 9 for the most part, and he's touched some 4s and maybe even 5s at this point. The slider is 84, 85 some days.

And so that's been really fun. That's a natural progression if you've got guys around you with arm strength. And you see that with a bunch of our guys. That's why you see a whole bunch of them down there that got really good arms. They're playing catch with -- it's not any magic formula other than, like I said, you're playing catch with somebody that's stronger than you, so you've got a really good opportunity each day to try to match that guy, and over time, it helps you.

Q. Coach Tadlock, thinking back to the start of the season, back in February when your starting rotation you had Erikson in there quite a bit and Montgomery in there quite a bit, and I guess you were kind of searching for what the right combination of those three were, did you have any concern in the first half of the season about getting your pitching to the point of doing what they did last weekend, or did you feel like all along the parts were there and it eventually would all come together?
TIM TADLOCK: Well, we really liked the way those two guys -- the two guys you mentioned that aren't in there threw the ball really well early in the season. We were talking about Erikson yesterday because it was the last day of the draft. He threw in Frisco, I want to say against Nebraska, and was 90, 93 for six innings. Still was 90, 93 in the sixth inning, and was really proud of the way he prepared and got ready to throw during the season. Mason Montgomery threw the ball really well for us on Sundays and put us in position to win most of the games he pitched.

But as far as concern goes, really -- we really probably ought to -- I wouldn't say we were concerned because you can go to the bullpen if you need to. We knew we had some pieces down there that if we got them innings had a chance to develop, and those guys have.

Q. A follow-up regarding the draft, and we were talking out there with Gabe and John and Josh all about their draft experiences on the weeks they're getting ready to play to go to Omaha. Do you have any problem with the timing of the draft? Do you think there's an alternative, when there might be a better time, so the college players in the postseason don't have that on their mind in addition to trying to win big games?
TIM TADLOCK: These guys, they have school on their mind throughout the whole year. You're talking about something they've dreamed about their whole life. It's not -- I mean, it's our favorite time of year. You're talking about all these guys getting a Christmas present when they get that opportunity, they get an opportunity to go do something they've dreamed about for a long time. Major League Baseball, there's a lot of revenue there, and they've been having that draft the first week in June for a long time, and that's when it falls best for them. College baseball is working really good with Major League Baseball now. I mean, it's a really good partnership, and I think it's something that if -- I think our guys embrace the, hey, yeah, we're practicing and my name be getting called or -- in life you've got to deal with more than one thing at a time quite a bit. These guys, they're not professionals yet, and even when they're professionals they're going to be moms or they're going to be dads and they're going to have to deal with stuff.

Q. So you think it's not a distraction?
TIM TADLOCK: I don't see any problem with it. I think it's awesome that these guys get an opportunity, and we're always excited for them to get that opportunity.

JOSH HOLLIDAY: I couldn't imagine Baker Mayfield going to the sideline calling time-out in the College Football Playoff and finding out he just got drafted or someone shooting a three-pointer in the Final Four finding out he just got drafted. That's essentially what was happening on Monday night in the first round.

I think trying to time it to where kids are not in the field of play, actually playing a game and looking in the stand to see if they got drafted would be a compromise. I agree with what Coach is saying about these kids have to handle multiple things going on. He's right. But when the first and second rounds are going on and there's kids actually playing games and you've got parents that are holding phones, it's just -- I've got to believe there's a way to find a date that there's not actually games being played or players playing games checking their phones or -- to me that would be a fair compromise to try to do it when there's no games actually going on, and then like he said, deal with it.

It's a good thing for most of the kids. The ones that are disappointed you have to turn the page quickly and move on if you're still playing and embrace the chance to play college baseball. But yeah, I find that dynamic of the draft occurring while games are being played, you wouldn't see that in any other major sport.

Q. Coach Holliday, there was the first time you came to Lubbock, then the regional being in Oklahoma City and having to go to that final game, can your team use any of that to help them this weekend with some of the stuff they've had to face recently?
JOSH HOLLIDAY: I mean, we played in front of our fans. We played in our state, which was awesome. We played in the great state of Oklahoma in front of Oklahoma State fans and we played in a nice venue, and we were glad to be there. We were glad that we were able to be 60 miles from campus even though it wasn't our home field. We made it feel like home, and it was a tough regional. The teams that were in it were very gritty. We faced some very determined teams. They pushed us hard.

You take the success and the moments that the kids experienced as a team with you and you move forward, and I think that's the biggest thing is some of the memories that were made during that regional tournament. Gave some kids some great confidence in themselves and confidence in their group. You just continue to move forward. As Coach said, you get to play tomorrow. Tomorrow's game is really independent of any of the other ones as long as you prepare correctly and play the right way.

I just think there's moments that kids discover that give them great confidence in themselves that they can build on.

Q. Coach Holliday, your team has got a really good record. I guess since the last time y'all played Texas Tech, was that a turning point for y'all this season? What have y'all done really well over the last month or six weeks that's enabled you to be in this position?
JOSH HOLLIDAY: Well, you know, we were playing pretty decent before we came out here, and we got out here and these guys played great. They played great. Day after day, we ran head-to-head with them and they played great baseball against us, and they had a great comeback on Sunday where we were ahead I think into the sixth or seventh inning, and they had a couple kids get some big clutch hits, and it was just good baseball. You know, you tip your cap to them and say, hey, they were better than us on these three days, and you go back to work on yourself and just try to play better baseball, and that's what we did.

I don't know, definitely a turning point for sure because any time you get beat, you've got to see what your response is, and if your response is correct, you have a chance to move forward, and if your response is not positive, then yeah, you could find yourself going the wrong direction. So our kids just responded well to being challenged.

But I mean, if you play and coach long enough, there's some games you run into someone, they play well and you've got to tip your cap to them and say, they were better than me today, and you've got to work on cleaning up your game and improving so that you can be better next time out. That's the way we viewed the season and certainly some of the big series and great challenges we faced during the season.

Q. Coach Tadlock, after a couple games off you put Dylan Neuse back in the lineup. How did he respond to that?
TIM TADLOCK: He got through that game. He's doing a lot better. Not playing on Monday was definitely good for us, and so he's had another -- he's had however many days that is to get healed up. He was moving around good today.

Q. What's his status?
TIM TADLOCK: Moving around good.

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