Hogs Softball

Hogs’ Deifel: ‘I’m excited for this to be the new standard’

Softball coach Courtney Deifel met with local media Monday morning to discuss the Razorbacks’ at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament.

Photo by RAZORBACK SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS

• 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket

FAYETTEVILLE — Softball coach Courtney Deifel met with local media Monday morning to discuss the Razorbacks’ at-large selection into the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship.

With the bid, Arkansas now has seven NCAA Regional appearances and its first since the 2013 season.

The Razorbacks play Tulsa in the opening game of the Norman Regional with first pitch scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on the SEC Network.

On initial reaction to NCAA Tournament selection …
“It was pretty exciting. Any time you see your name pop up on the NCAA Tournament it’s a pretty exciting night. To see our girls’ reaction with the way they worked themselves back into (the NCAA Tournament) made it pretty special. I’m excited to see them go to work this weekend.”

On all 13 SEC teams getting a bid …
“Our conference is so strong and the body of work for each team speaks for itself. We play the toughest schedules in the country and we all have good wins and bodies of work. To me, I think we all worked our way in and they acknowledged that last night.”

On the May 5 win over Georgia …
“It played a huge part in just getting us to the SEC Tournament, and I think that was the big step in proving that we belonged there, and that’s only going to help us down the stretch in the postseason. For one, it get our girls that first experience of the postseason and being on that big stage playing for something big.”

On her first NCAA appearance as a head coach …
“I’m just excited for the team. I’m excited for them to experience this and I’m excited for this to be the new standard of what we shoot for every year. I’m really proud of them.”

On the other teams in the Norman Regional …
“I know they’re all very strong. I know that we have a really tough draw but everyone has a tough draw this time of year. That’s what postseason is all about. We have teams that have really strong pitching. When you look at Tulsa, they have a strong arm in their ace Emily Watson. She can really throw it. Beyond that, North Dakota State can always throw it and Oklahoma has a great staff so there are three very strong teams. There are three teams that know how to win and are comfortable in the postseason so we’re expecting some battles this weekend and it starts with Tulsa.”

On first-game opponent, Tulsa …
“We both know a lot about each other. It’s interesting at this point of the year to know so much about two of your three opponents and then we played North Dakota State just last year. In the two games we had with Tulsa, they were both kind of lopsided. When we played them the first time, we didn’t play our best game and they played very well. When we played them the second time, we played a much better game and they didn’t have their best game so I expect both of us to bring our best this weekend.”

On playing in Norman …
“When we’re playing for something bigger than we’re typically playing for, it’s nice to go to a stadium you’ve played in and against a team that you’ve played. Also, we’re close to home and we travel really well so it’ll be good for our fans to make the short three and a half hour drive, and hopefully Call the Hogs with us.”

On making the NCAA Tournament in second year at Arkansas …
“When we set out, this was always a goal that we shot for but we never really spoke about. It was more about getting these student-athletes to buy in to being better every day. When you do that and absolutely sell out to being better Razorbacks every day, then things like NCAA berths happen. Did we sit down as a staff and say ‘oh, in year two…?’ Absolutely not but we wanted it so badly for this team. It’s such a special group of girls and I’m so excited, especially that our senior class gets to experience this.”

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