Power Ball: Softball Team Looks to Outhit A&M

The sixth-ranked Auburn softball team faces another ranked opponent on the road this weekend as the Tigers take on Texas A&M.

The Tigers are college softball's top home run hitting team.

The SEC-leading Auburn softball Tigers will try to keep their bats hot as they hit the road for a three-game conference series at Texas A&M with single contests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Ranked sixth nationally and leading the nation in home runs with 82 and leading the SEC in batting average at .373, Auburn is atop the league standings with a 10-2 league mark, one game ahead of 9-3 LSU.

Texas A&M is 31-10 overall, 7-5 in the SEC and ranked No. 23 nationally. The Aggies have been tough to beat at home where they have won 21 of 25 contests this season.

Auburn’s second-year head coach, Clint Myers, said he has respect for the Aggies and their coach, Jo Evans, who he faced in the College World Series when Myers was coaching at Arizona State. “You are going to have to bring your ‘A’ game there to have success,” he said.

The Tigers have played well with few exceptions this year. With a 38-5 overall record Auburn is just one home run shy of matching the school single-season record set last year. Second baseman Emily Carosone, first baseman Jade Rhodes and third baseman Kasey Cooper are tied for the league lead in home runs with 16 apiece.

Auburn has won two of three games or swept their SEC series this year. If the Tigers do it again this weekend the team will surpass last season’s total of 11 SEC victories.

One of the players who could help make that happen is senior right fielder Branndi Melero, who bounced back from being hit by a pitch in the Missouri series to be named the SEC Player of the Week for her performances as the Tigers took two out of three games last weekend vs. Tennessee.

“That ball that hit her on the wrist really did some damage, but she is a trooper,” Myers said. “She didn’t want to come out of the lineup and 80 percent of Branndi is pretty darn good. She figured things out. She got two slap hits and she hasn’t slapped in a couple of years and you couldn’t tell.”

Branndi Melero, shown sliding into home, has been a key player for the Tigers since Myers took over the team last season.

Myers noted Melero’s focus is helping the Tigers try to win the SEC title, something her three previous teams didn’t come close to doing. Melero said her coach is right about her goal.

“We have the team this year that is capable of going all the way and I am just grateful to be on this team right now knowing we are on top and going into the next series No. 1 in the SEC,” said Melero, who earned All-America honors as a junior.

Myers added that having Melero on the roster is a big deal for the Tigers. “Her senior year she is going out there to do whatever she has to do to compete and win,” the coach said.

Game times are 6:30 p.m. CDT on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday in College Station, Tex. Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPNU.

“They are well coached,” Myers said of the Aggies. “Jo does a good job of getting their kids ready to play and they are playing good softball right now.”

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