Caldwell Column: Heart Of A Champion

Auburn won its first SEC Softball Tournament Championship on Saturday and it may be just the start under the direction of Coach Clint Myers.

It’s hard to put into words just how much the culture of Auburn softball has changed in just two seasons under Clint Myers, but Saturday night was a microcosm of what the Tigers have become as they came from behind to beat Tennessee in nine innings to win the first SEC Tournament Championship in program history.

Veteran Emily Carosone scored the winning run for the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth on a hit from freshman Carlee Wallace as the young catcher smoked a ball down the third base line to set off a huge celebration. It was fitting to see a newcomer drive in one of the most experienced players for the Tigers as Myers has made the transition in the program with a mix of players left over on the team and others who have joined, and the combination has helped push the Tigers over the top.

It’s a long way from where Carsone, Branndi Melero, Morgan Estell, Tiffany Howard, Jade Rhodes, Marcy Harper, Lexi Davis and the rest of Auburn’s most experienced players found themselves two years ago at this time. Coming off a disappointing 30-23 season that saw the Tigers finish with a 7-17 record in SEC play, Auburn’s Jay Jacobs decided it was time for a new face in the softball program and when he hired Myers it proved to be the biggest of home run hires.

Taking over a program that had never won an SEC Championship and never advanced past the regional round of the NCAA Tournament in 10 appearances, Myers showed in year one why he was one of the most successful coaches in the country when he led Auburn to 42 wins and one game shy of a Super Regional.

The Tigers had plenty to celebrate on Saturday night after receiving the SEC Tournament Championship Trophy.

This season Auburn has not only taken steps forward, they have leapfrogged other teams in dramatic fashion on the way to a 49-9 record. Blowing out opponents early with power up and down the lineup, the Tigers finished things off this week at the SEC Tournament in Baton Rouge thanks to quality pitching, defense and timely hitting.

Now Auburn is preparing to get the news that Jacobs and Myers were looking for as the NCAA Softball Selection Show airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. CDT. Expected to be a top four national seed and have the opportunity to play at home all the way to the College World Series if they can keep winning, the Tigers are in a position to make Auburn a softball powerhouse for years to come.

I think most were like myself and thought this day would one day come with Myers running the show, I just didn’t think it would happen this quickly.

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