May 10, 2011
In an interview that appeared in the April issue of the Bruin Blue athletic newsletter, senior Donna Kerr discusses being on the field for the final out of UCLA's 2010 title and her plans for her post-Westwood career.
Bruin Blue: What was it like to pitch the final out at last year's Women's College World Series game, giving UCLA the championship?
Donna Kerr: It was amazing. I just had a ton of adrenaline and once that final pitch came out it was pure emotion. The first thing I did was run to the catcher and hug her. It really was what you dream about. Getting to pitch the final out in the College World Series and getting to strike out the batter is the way you want to end it.
BB: What does the team need to do to get back to that point and win another title?
DK: Right now we really need to focus on ourselves and not think about trying to defend the title, or anything else. We just need to get back to playing UCLA Softball. We've hit a couple of bumps, had a few injuries and we have a really young infield that is very talented but everyone is still getting used to playing with each other and being connected. They're all things you develop over time, so that's what we're working on.
BB: Do you feel more pressure this year, not just because you're a senior, but also because you're out to defend UCLA's title?
DK: Not really, last year was an amazing year, but it was last year and this year we're trying to focus on what we're doing right now. When I'm out there I don't think, "Oh gosh, we won last year and have to win again." I'm out there playing the same game, so I don't feel any extra pressure.
BB: How does this year's team compare to last year's team in terms of chemistry and talent or other aspects?
DK: It's difficult to compare the two teams. Obviously we won last year, so what I'll always think about is that last game. For where we are right now, I think we're doing very well. Preseason is where you can get the kinks out, prepare for Pac-10 play, and face some of the top competition, so it's hard to compare.
BB: What are you specifically working on this season to improve your game?
DK: Every day I'm trying to get better, whether that means working on my pitches, improving my spins or staying mentally tough. I'm also focusing on keeping my body healthy so I can perform when it matters.
BB: So much of being a pitcher is being strong mentally. What helps you focus and keep your composure during the game?
DK: I really try to stick to my routine and take things one pitch at a time. We have a sports psychologist who works with us to stay on those routines.
BB: In February, two L.A. high school baseball teams played each other. It was historic because it was the first time two girls had been starting pitchers against each other in a high school baseball game? What do you think about that?
DK: I actually didn't hear about it. If they can hang that's great. I played baseball when I was seven years old and then I went back to play with the girls. But that's awesome. I don't think I could play with some baseball players.
BB: You've also earned Pac-10 All-Academic Honorable Mention honors multiple times. Is it hard to balance your schoolwork with practice and such a hectic schedule?
DK: Time management is huge. I like to schedule things out so I have enough time for my studying and for my training. It's really about keeping everything under control and making sure that I'm setting enough time out for everything.
BB: If you do find free time in your schedule, what are you usually doing?
DK: I like to run. I don't have a lot of free time, so if I do find any I'm usually resting or taking a nap.
BB: What are your plans after UCLA? What will you miss the most about playing softball here?
DK: I'm not sure. I might look to play a little bit longer and then go out into the real world and get a job. I'm interested in getting my masters degree, but that's down the road. I think I'll miss my teammates the most at UCLA. I'll miss the girls all having my back, being able to be with my friends 24/7. We're almost like sisters and I'll miss that team atmosphere, the bonding and all the laughs.