AU Softball Looking to Earn World Series Trip

Hard-hitting Louisiana-Lafayette will test the Tigers at the NCAA Softball Auburn Super Regional.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn’s pitching staff will face one of its biggest challenges of the season as the fourth-ranked Tigers take on No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette in the super regional round of the NCAA Softball Tournament.

The Ragin’ Cajuns come into Friday’s series opener averaging 8.09 runs per contest, which ranks third nationally. That is slightly better than Auburn’s average of 8.03 runs per game, which leads the SEC and is fourth nationally.

Louisiana-Lafayette also features the nation’s top home run hitter, Lexie Elkins, who has set a school record this year for homers in a season.

She smacked her 31st in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ regional championship game victory on Sunday night vs. Baylor and is one of eight players in Division I softball history to hit 30 or more home runs in a single season.

As a team Louisiana-Lafayette has smashed a school record 112 homers while Auburn has hit a school record 95 home runs.

The Tigers, who defeated South Alabama 7-4 on Sunday to win the Auburn Regional, bring at 52-9 record into game one of the super regional that is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. CDT on Friday. Game two is set for 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday and if necessary game three is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The games at Jane B. Moore Field on the Auburn campus are sellouts to see the Tigers make the first super regional appearance in school history. Friday’s game will be televised on ESPNU and Saturday’s coverage will be on ESPN.

In his second season with the Tigers, Coach Clint Myers has led Auburn to a school-record for victories in a season this year.

Louisiana-LaFayette, which was upset by South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, has a 42-10 record as it makes a fourth consecutive trip into the super regionals. Last season, playing at Arizona, the Ragin’ Cajuns won both games to advance to the College World Series for the sixth time in school history.

Michael Lotief, who has a 638-157-1 record in 13 seasons as head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns, brings an experienced team to Auburn. Five of the team’s starters will be competing in their third super regional and three others have competed in two super regionals.

Pitchers Jordan Wallace and Christina Hamilton also have extensive NCAA Tournament experience. Wallace has a 1.90 ERA and an 18-5 record this year. Hamilton is 12-3 with a 2.58 ERA while Alex Stewart is 10-1 with a 1.62 ERA.

The Tigers and Ragin’ Cajuns have never met in postseason play. The only previous matchup was a 9-1 Louisiana-Lafayette victory in 2003 at a tournament in Monroe, La.

Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone was named MVP of the SEC Tournament the Tigers won at Baton Rouge.

If Auburn is going to advance to the College World Series in Oklahoma City its trio of junior pitchers will need to be sharp in the super regional against an opponent that features a .346 team batting average.

Since giving up 31 runs in losing two-out-of-three games to Alabama for their only series loss of the season, pitchers Lexi Davis, Marcy Harper and Rachael Walters have combined to allow just 25 runs during a 12-game stretch that includes two shutouts and three games in which they allowed just one run.

At the plate Coach Clint Myers’ Tigers are hitting .345, which ranks 13th nationally. Auburn’s fielding percentage of .977 is seventh in the country. Louisiana-Lafayette’s fielding has been good, too, with a .973 average

All-SEC junior second baseman Emily Carosone leads the Tigers in batting average at .466, on-base percentage at .567, runs batted in (77), runs scored (82) and slugging percentage at .862.

Davis has a 22-1 pitching record with a 4.13 earned run average. Walters, a left-hander, is 18-3 with a 2.88 ERA. Harper is 12-4 with a 3.34 ERA.

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