Exam Time On And Off the Field for Tigers

Auburn goes into the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed, but the Tigers have more than softball on the agenda this week.

Kasey Cooper (above) is is a key performer for Auburn at the plate and at third base.

Baton Rouge, La.--After finishing a half-game behind defending national champion Florida for the 2015 SEC softball regular season championship, the Auburn Tigers have unfinished business this week before turning their total focus to postseason play.

The Tigers earned a bye for the opening round of the SEC Tournament, which starts on Wednesday at Tiger Park on the campus of LSU, where Auburn finished the regular season by winning two of three games over the weekend.

Instead of traveling back to the Auburn campus on Sunday night the team is staying in Baton Rouge and taking spring semester final exams there.

Asked if there will be time for much practice this week before taking the field for a game on Thursday, Myers said, “I am hoping. From what Dr. (Gary) Waters said we have roughly 25 to 30 finals to give them over the next three days.”

As the No. 2 seed in the single-elimination tournament, Auburn (46-9 overall, 18-6 SEC) received a first round bye and will play the winner of a Wednesday contest matching No. 7 seed Missouri (38-13 overall, 14-10 SEC) and No. 10 seed Mississippi State (35-18 overall, 10-14 SEC). Auburn’s game is scheduled for 10 a.m. CDT on Thursday.

Auburn won two out of three games at Missouri during the regular season. The Tigers and MSU Bulldogs have not played this year.

Left-hander Rachael Walters is one of the three pitchers the Tigers have featured this season.

The other first round game on Auburn’s side of the bracket matches No. 6 seed Georgia vs. No. 11 seed Ole Miss. The winner will play No. 3 seed Alabama, which means there is the possibility of a Tigers-Tide matchup in the semi-finals of the single elimination event if both of those teams win on Thursday.

On the other side of the bracket the winner of the No. 8 seed Texas A&M vs. No. 9 seed South Carolina game plays No. 1 seed Florida. No. 4 seed LSU will take on the winner of No. 5 seed Tennessee vs. No. 12 seed Kentucky.

Missouri upset Florida on Sunday, giving Auburn a chance to earn its first ever SEC softball regular season title, but LSU bounced back from Friday and Saturday losses to defeat Auburn 7-1.

Asked how his players reacted to the Sunday setback, Myers said, “I think there is a certain level of disappointment because we had a chance.”

However, the coach added that his team did a good job by winning two out of three from a talented LSU team that went into the series ranked No. 2 national in RPI, one spot ahead of Auburn.

“The thing is we took seven out of the eight SEC series,” Myers said. “We came into a place where they were 31-1 at their home park and we took two out of three.”

Haley Fagan has helped the Tigers with her power at the plate and her good fielding at shortstop.

Despite being picked to finish eighth in the SEC preseason coaches poll, the Tigers now have a chance to go into the NCAA Tournament as one of the top eight national seeds. If that happens it means that Auburn will be a host site for one of the 16 four-team regionals and if the Tigers win that event they will be a host for the super regional round, which is played in a head-to-head, best two out of three format.

The eight winners of the super regionals advance to the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Asked if he believes his Tigers deserve to be a national seed, Auburn’s second-year head coach said, “I will leave that to the powers that be. We finished second in the SEC. We won seven out of eight SEC series and we have a great overall record. I would have to say in my opinion we should be a top eight seed. Our RPI was third in the country so it shows we have played a tough schedule.

“Whatever happens happens, but the nice thing about the playoffs is you have got to play whoever is there and to be the best you have to beat the best,” Myers added. “Whether you play them at Auburn or someplace else, you still have to go out there and win the games.”

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