Auburn, Ala.-Although Auburn is rewriting the record book for offensive performance this season, Coach Clint Myers said his Tigers need to be good in everything they do this weekend while competing in the NCAA Softball Tournament Auburn Regional.
“If the hitting is not there you have to be able to step up on the other two sides of it with the pitching and defense,” said Myers, whose team will bring a 49-9 record into Friday’s game at Jane B. Moore Field vs. Tennessee Tech.
“With none of these teams here will we be able to have to luxury of giving them extra opportunties to beat us so defense is truly going to be the key,” said Auburn’s second-year head coach, who led the Tigers to the SEC Tournament championship last weekend in Baton Rouge, La.
“Practice has been good,” said Myers, whose team will play the second game in the Auburn Regional following the opener vs. No. 2 seed South Alabama (38-11) and No. 3 seed UT-Chattanooga (35-13). “The girls are excited,” he said. “It is about really locking in.”
Auburn’s lineup is loaded with left-handed hitters who will be challenged by a lefty from Tennessee Tech, who carried the Golden Eagles to the OVC tournament title. Sophomore Danielle Liberatore posted a 19-11 record with a 2.17 ERA this season.
“She has got good numbers--279 strikeouts in 210 innings so like we said at the very beginning, there are four teams that are here for a reason,”?Myers stated. “It is not about talking about it any more. You have got to go out and prove it and put it into performance. That is the key for us. We have to perform to the expectations for us and for everybody else.”
Myers said it has been a plus to have two left-handed pitchers on his roster so his hitters are comfortable facing lefty pitching. One of Auburn’s left-handers, Rachael Walters, is expected to see action in the regional along with right-handers Lexi Davis and Marcy Harper.
Last year in the NCAA Regional at Minneapolis the Tigers were short on pitching with Harper out with an injury and Walters was having to sit out as a transfer from Radford. Davis started all five games and pitched 28 innings over three days as the Tigers fell 8-6 to host Minnesota in the championship game.>
“We have a staff this year and that has made a big difference,” Myers said. “If you look at college softball across the country, you are finding it is becoming more of a staff rather than riding the back of one pitcher. I think it is good for the game. It makes you coach a little bit more because you have to look at lineup changes, double-switches and things like that.”
Davis said she enjoyed the challenge in last year’s regional, but added, “I am glad I don’t have to do it again.”
One of the key hitters for fourth-ranked Auburn, All-SEC third baseman Kasey Cooper, is eager to get back into competition after her Tigers defeated Tennessee in the SEC Championship Game.
Kasey Cooper makes a play in the SEC Tournament at Tiger Field in Baton Rouge.
Cooper noted she likes being able to play at Jane B. Moore Field. “It’s awesome, it’s home for us. We were in Baton Rouge for over a weekend and a half and it has been fun to come back and everywhere you go people are excited to support us and watch us compete. To play on our field, and having the games sold out already, it is a great feeling.”