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Alabama Quotes from Friday’s NCAA Super Regional Press Conference

June 11, 2010

Head Coach Mitch Gaspard

On another big game on the road: “It is 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 momentum: “It is really big at this point in the season, particularly. The momentum and electricity in the dug out just seems to be growing every 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 environment here: “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 then 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 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 a 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 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. Then have three or four hot pitchers going for you too.”

On 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.”

Shortstop Josh Rutledge

“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.”

Pitcher Jimmy Nelson

“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 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 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.”

Second Baseman Ross Wilson

On success in the post season: “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 season: “I think that is huge. Not one person can do it everyday. Whether it is Jon Kelton hitting the big home run when he usually doesn’t do that or Rutledge having a big game or Dugas hitting a big homerun. I think it has been someone different every day that has contributed. I think Clay 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 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 post season 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.”