Auburn Softball Regional: Opponent Preview

Scouting reports on South Alabama, UT-Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech are featured as fourth-ranked Auburn looks to advance in the NCAA Softball Tournament.

Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone (above) is shown in action in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Carosone was named MVP of the 2015 SEC Tournament.

Auburn, Ala.--Playing in just the second NCAA Softball Tournament regional with Auburn as a host site, the Tigers will take on the challenge of trying to get past three other conference champions during a three-day, double-elimination event that will run Friday through Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field.

Auburn, the No. 1 regional seed, will take a 49-9 record into its Friday 5:30 p.m. opener vs. Tennessee Tech following a 3 p.m. CDT matchup with South Alabama taking on UT-Chattanooga.

Auburn, under its second-year head coach Clint Myers, is making its 11th NCAA regional appearance, but is still looking to advance to the super regional round for the first time. In 2005 Auburn was a regional host as a No. 2 seed.

Coach Clint Myers won two national championships at Arizona State prior to coming to Auburn for the 2014 season.

Last season the Tigers were the No. 2 seed at the Minneapolis Regional where they finished as the runnerup to the University of Minnesota.

Winners of the SEC Tournament, the Tigers go into the 2015 Auburn Regional as the No. 4 national seed and one of 11 SEC teams to receive an invitation to the 64-team tournament. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 nationally in both major polls this week and are No. 3 in RPI.

The Saturday schedule starts at noon with the winners of the Friday games meeting. At 2:30 p.m. the losers of the Friday games will play with the loser being eliminated from the regional. At 5 p.m. the loser of the first Saturday game will play the winner of the second Saturday game.

The winner of Saturday's noon game can take the tournament title by winning in the noon game on Sunday. If another game is needed on Sunday it is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

The games at soldout Jane B. Moore will not be televised, but will be available on-line on SEC Network+. Here is a look at the other teams that will compete at the Auburn Regional:

No. 2 Seed, South Alabama

Making their fourth consecutive appearance in an NCAA Regional, Coach Becky Clark’s Jaguars are the Sun Belt Conference tournament champions and will bring a 38-11 record to the Auburn Regional.

USA is hitting .303 as a team led by sophomore Chloe Rathburn at .381 and junior Steph Pilkington at .352.

The Jaguars, who are ranked No. 23 nationally, have hit 36 home runs, are 55-61 in stolen bases and have a .966 fielding percentage.

The team features a 2.60 earned run average. Freshman Kalen McGill has a 16-3 record with a 1.97 earned run average. She has 70 strikeouts and has allowed 126 hits and 16 bases on balls in 121 innings pitched.

Senior Farish Beard is 11-4 with a 2.47 ERA. She has 99 strikeouts in 88 innings while giving up 50 hits and 44 bases on balls.

Devin Brown has a 10-4 pitching record and a 3.09 ERA. She has 158 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings while allowing 67 hits and 71 bases on balls. She was the winning pitcher in the Sun Belt Tournament title game and set an Alabama high school record by striking out 31 batters for Theodore in a game vs. Saraland that went 17 innings her junior year.

Worth Noting: The Jaguars lost 3-1 at home to UT-Chattanooga on Feb. 20th at the South Alabama Invitational.

Worth Noting, Part 2: USA won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed, knocking off the University of Louisiana-Lafayette 2-0 in the championship game. Louisiana-LaFayette is the No. 1 seed in its own regional. The winner of Auburn Regional will face the winner of the LaFayette Regional in the super regional round.

Threat Level to Auburn: The Jaguars are a dangerous team with strong pitching. They are 2-2 vs. SEC opponents this year with wins vs. NCAA Tournament teams South Carolina and Mississippi State along with losses to Alabama and LSU.

No. 3 Seed, UT-Chattanooga

The Mocs earned the Southern Conference’s automatic bid into the regional by winning the league’s tournament with a 3-1 victory over Mercer. This will be Chattanooga’s 10th NCAA Tournament appearance and it has an 6-18 record in those contests.

Coach Frank Reed’s Mocs will bring a 35-13 record to Auburn and finished the regular season 12-5 in league play.

Senior Sarah Beth Roberts leads the team in batting average at .380 and has 10 home runs plus 11 doubles. Junior Criket Blanco is hitting .359 with seven home runs and senior Nicole Ostermann is hitting .333 with team highs for homers with 12 and RBI with 42.

The team batting average is .290 and the Mocs’ pitchers have a 2.90 earned run average.

Senior pitcher Taylor Deason has a 15-5 record with a 2.37 ERA. She has 116 strikeouts and allowed 140 hits and 52 bases on balls in 138 2/3 innings. Freshman left-hander Cori Jennings is 14-6 with a 2.75 earned run average. She has allowed 135 hits and 49 walks in a 124 2/3 innings while striking out 77.

Worth Noting: The Mocs have just six stolen bases in 11 attempts while opponents are 50-56 stealing bases vs. Chattanooga.

Worth Noting, Part 2: Deason gave up eight hits in 3 1/3 innings and Jennings surrendered three hits in 1/3 inning during an 11-1, run-rule loss to Auburn at Jane B. Moore Field on Feb. 10. Haley Fagan led the Tigers with three hits in that game. She smashed a grandslam home run and finished with six RBI.

Auburn shortstop Haley Fagan, a transfer from South Alabama, has put together a strong season for the Tigers in the field and at the plate.

Threat Level to Auburn: This is an opponent the Tigers should be able to handle if they play anywhere close to their potential.

No. 4 Seed, Tennessee Tech

Making their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2007, the Golden Eagles from Cookeville, Tenn., will bring a 32-26 record to the Auburn Regional.

Tech earned its spot in the field with a 3-2 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the championship game of the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.

Sophomore Alyessa Richards leads the team in batting average at .345 and has 10 home runs. The Golden Eagles have 60 home runs with Oliva Bennett the leader with 15. She is also the leader in RBI with 46.

As a team the Golden Eagles have a .285 batting average and opponents are hitting .282 vs. Tech.

All-OVC sophomore left-hander Danielle Liberatore is the No. 1 pitcher with a 19-11 record with a 2.17 ERA and three saves. She has 273 strikeouts in 210 innings while allowing 173 hits and 76 bases on balls.

Junior Hannah Weaver has a 7-8 record and a 5.32 ERA. She has given up 107 hits and 34 bases on balls in 72 1/3 innings.

Worth Noting: The Golden Eagles won the OVC tournament title as the No. 4 seed on the home field of No. 1 seed SIU-Edwardsville.

Worth Noting, Part 2: Liberatore, a lefty strikeout pitcher, could prove a challenge for Auburn’s lineup that is dominated by left-handed hitters. However, in her only outing vs. an SEC team this year she was the losing pitcher in a 10-0 loss to Kentucky on Feb. 28th.

Threat Level to Auburn: Minimal unless the Tigers have an off-day.

NCAA Tournament 64-Team Bracket

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