“It’s just another home series,” Estell said. “We are playing the game, never the opponent, but it is going to be great to have a huge crowd. I have heard it is sold out so that is the most exciting part that people are loving Auburn and Auburn softball.
A major reason for the interest in the 2015 Tigers is that Coach Clint Myers’ team has a 40-6 record in his second season at Auburn and the team has a one-game lead in the SEC race over LSU and defending national champion Florida.
Auburn is 12-3 in SEC play while Alabama is 10-5 in the conference and 33-9 overall. In one major poll Auburn is ranked sixth and seventh in the other. Alabama’s rankings are also sixth and seventh.
Game times are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Friday and Saturday games are scheduled to be televised on ESPNU.
Estell, who is hitting .380 for the SEC’s top team in almost every offensive category, chose Auburn over Alabama as a senior at Mortimer Jordan High School despite growing up in a family of Alabama fans and despite the fact that the Tide’s program was significantly stronger at that time.
“I fell in love with the atmosphere,” she said of her reason for choosing Auburn. “When people say it is a family, it really is a family, which was more important to me than any statistic at that point.”
Despite the rivalry and even though it may be the last time she plays against the Tide, Estell won’t say it is a more important series than the others the Tigers have left to play this year. “It is the biggest one because it is our next one,” she said. “As soon as one is over the biggest one is Arkansas. After that it is LSU. It just keeps building.”
Going into the series Auburn leads the SEC in batting average at .371 and is first in runs (412), doubles (70), home runs (86), slugging percentage (.657) and on-base percentage (.486). Auburn’s home run total leads the nation and is a single-season AU record. Tide has hit 34 home runs and has a .332 batting average.
Alabama will be counting on its pitching to counter Auburn’s hot bats, which combined with good fielding have the Tigers rated No. 3 nationally in RPI for a second consecutive week. The Tide’s team earned average is 1.73 compared to 3.36 for the Tigers, who are expected to start Rachael Walters on Friday night following her pair of complete game victories last weekend at Texas A&M.
Corey Myers, Auburn’s pitching coach, said, “I think Rachael is now starting to feel like she belongs in this conference.” The left-hander, who is a transfer from Radford, has a 15-2 record with a 2.37 ERA. “It’s huge for her as far as confidence level,” Myers said of the way Walters pitched last weekend.
Lexi Davis is a junior for the Tigers.
Right-hander Lexi Davis, who is expected to start a game in the series as well as be available in relief, is 17-1 with a 3.96 ERA.
Davis has struggled at times this year with her control and with her change-up, which is a key pitch.
She has got to be able to throw the off-speed pitch,” Myers said. “As far as overall stuff, Lexi doesn’t have what the other pitchers have in terms of movement. What she has is a will to win and the ability to change speeds. The fact that she has struggled a little bit the last two weeks with her changeup has put her into a situation where she has had to rely on other pitches and she is just not that type of pitcher.”
This weekend’s series will be the first time the Tigers and Tide have faced off with both teams ranked in the Top 10.
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