Tigers, Myers Open SEC Season Vs. LSU

Coach Clint Myers and the Auburn softball Tigers will take on LSU in a three-game series after having success in pre-conference play.

Auburn, Ala.--Ready or not the Southeastern Conference season begins on Friday for Clint Myers and his Auburn women's softball team.

Auburn's first-year head coach said he is eager for league play to begin as his 17-3-1 Tigers play host to LSU for a three-game series at Jane B. Moore Field with games on Friday at 6 p.m. and 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

"I am ready," Myers said. "I enjoy playing the best and I think the girls will, too. They are still learning. We had a good preseason. We did what we needed to do. Now we have to refine what we have learned and put it together against postseason (level) competition every weekend."

The SEC is loaded with strong softball teams and LSU is no exception. The Bayou Bengals are ranked No. 23 nationally and will bring a 16-6 record and a four-game winning streak to Auburn.

"We are anxiously awaiting the start of this to see what we can do," Myers said of his team opening its SEC schedule.

"We know we have to make some adjustments along the way, but if they remember they are playing just a softball game, and not an opponent, we can do what we can do regardless of who we are playing.

"We can only do the things we practice and prepare for so if we take care of the controllables--pitchers that attack the (strike) zone, we play good defense and get some timely hitting--hey, listen, there is no telling what we can do."

LSU is batting .325 as a team and has a .502 slugging percentage with 56 stolen bases in 60 attempts. LSU's pitchers have combined for an earned run average of 1.87.

Auburn is hitting .300 as a team with a .515 slugging percentage aided by 26 home runs and 34 doubles. Auburn's pitchers have a 2.17 earned run average.

Marcy Harper is 8-0 as a pitcher with a 2.71 earned run average while Lexi Davis is 8-3 with a 1.58 ERA.

"They are doing a great job," Myers said of his sophomore pitchers. "Marci and Lex have pitched tremendously. They are starting to believe about attacking the zone and in our defense. We are leading the SEC in double plays. We said that at the very beginning and they are starting to believe. Each day we learn something new about ourselves and the belief gets stronger and stronger. We know we have got to get better every day to get ready for the postseason."

Commenting on what to expect from LSU, Myers said, "The key thing for them is they have tremendous team speed. Every player but one has a stolen base. They are going to make things happen, but it is tough to steal first base so if we can keep them off the bases, and score a few runs for these guys, we have a pretty good chance of doing what we need to do."

Clint Myers talks with Branndi Melero.

Freshman Kasey Cooper is hitting .411 with four home runs and 25 RBI for Auburn while junior Branndi Melero is batting .404 with four home runs and 31 RBI.

Myers said the Tigers have been working to take a good approach to the plate at every opportunity. "We have a very simple approach," the former Arizona State head coach said. "It is about getting good pitches to hit and then putting good swings on good pitches."

The coach pointed out that he is also pleased the team's walks up are compared to last year. The Tigers have drawn 109 walks in 212 innings this season. Last year the Tigers drew 177 walks in 53 games.

"We are not getting ourselves out," Myers said. "We are making the pitcher come in the zone and that is a key thing."

Having discipline at the plate will be a key to success in SEC play, the coach pointed out. "We are going to be facing good pitching and if we swing at their pitches we won't be successful. If we force them to come to our zone we will have a much better chance of success."

Asked what he has been most pleased with about his team, Myers said, "I would say we have made some strides in a couple different areas, but probably the most important thing is the character. They have shown great competitiveness.

"In the games we have been behind, they didn't stop competing," he added. "In fact, in every game we have played, including the ones we didn't win, we haven't been beaten, we just lost games because we didn't do things. We had opportunities to tie or win ball games, we just haven't been able to do it so that is the thing we have to learn to do--to compete and execute.

"It is a young club," Myers said. "I say it all of the time. It is a team full of freshmen of various ages. We are going to make some mistakes, but how we handle those mistakes will really define our character."

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