It's A New Day for Improving Softball Tigers

Ranked 19th in the nation following a win at No. 10 Kentucky, Auburn will face sixth-ranked Florida on the road this weekend.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming off its first series victory on the road vs. a Top 10 ranked opponent in school history, Coach Clint Meyers and his No. 19 ranked Auburn softball Tigers will try to make more history this weekend when they travel to Gainesville to face the sixth-ranked Florida Gators.

Currently 31-6-1 overall and 6-3 in SEC play, Meyers has Auburn playing at a very high level, but the job doesn't get any easier this weekend.

Auburn hasn't had much success against Florida in the history of the program and has been dominated for much of the last decade. Going back to the 2006 season the Tigers have won just four times in 24 games against the Gators. Now with the opportunity to make more noise nationally against Florida (31-8, 5-7), Meyers said for his team the goal is to keep perspective and that means playing the game the right way.

"Our mentality isn't that we're playing Florida, we're playing a softball game and it's more important that we do the things that we can do well and try not to do any more," Auburn's first-year head coach said. "If we go out and take care of business, what Florida will do is they will give us some tendencies or they pull hitters, swap hitters, they go the other way.

"They've got three great pitchers. They've got a team full of tremendously talented athletes and they've been a powerhouse for a long time and they're very well coached. We're going to be tested well. We're going to go out there and we're coming in on a good place . They're kind of hungry so it's going to be a good matchup."

The number one team in the country just two weeks ago, Florida has struggled recently. Swept on the road last weekend at Tennessee and dropping a game to Florida State on Tuesday night, the Gators are just 4-7 in their last 11 games after winning 22 straight to start the season.

Auburn celebrates a Jade Rhodes' grand slam

Auburn is trending in a different direction. Already besting last season's win total, the Tigers are doing it with a potent offense, solid defense plus improving pitching. Hitting .321 as a team with 54 home runs, Auburn is led by a potent first five hitters in the order. Kasey Cooper (.449, 11 HR, 55 RBI), Branndi Melero (.440, 9, 56), Emily Carosone (.418, 4, 25) and Morgan Estell (.381, 4, 27) have all provided a steady punch at the plate while Jade Rhodes has delivered the big blow. Hitting .269, Rhodes has three grand slams this season as part of her six home runs and 41 RBI on the year. Meyers said having that kind of pop in his lineup has been a luxury so far this season.

"We're real fortunate we've got two kids that are in the top five in the SEC in RBIs in Branndi Molero and Kasey Cooper and Kasey is only a freshman," Meyers said. "Then we have Emily Carosone who has a .600 on base percentage and Morgan Estelle who's flirting around the .400 mark and leading the team in runs scored. I've been coaching a long time and this team has given us a lot of firsts and that's great productivity."

In the circle the Auburn pitching staff has continued to lean on sophomores Marcy Harper and Lexi Davis. Both saw action last week for two starts, each adding wins, while Davis came away from the week 2-0, winning both games against Kentucky to push her record to 16-5. Harper suffered her first loss of the year on Sunday against the Wildcats, dropping a complete-game, 2-1 decision. Harper is now 14-1 on the year with a 2.86 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched.

Friday's game with the Gators is set for a 5 p.m. CST while Saturday's game will be televised on ESPNU with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. CST. The weekend will conclude on Sunday with a noon CST start.

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