Oklahoma City--Auburn’s debut at the softball College World Series features the SEC’s top hitting team vs. LSU’s All-SEC pitcher Carlee Hoover, who will take a 1.59 earned run average into Thursday’s matchup vs. Auburn.
Coach Clint Myers and his team will make Auburn history on Thursday with the program’s first appearance in the College World Series. The Tigers and Bayou Bengals are scheduled to play at 1:30 p.m. CDT and the contest will be televised on ESPN.
Auburn won two out of three games vs. LSU to close the regular season and heads into the contest on an eight-game winning streak including a win on LSU’s home field to defeat Tennessee in the SEC Tournament championship game.
“They have pretty good pitching and we have pretty good hitting so it should be a good game,” said Auburn’s first team All-American third baseman, Kasey Coope, who has a .408 batting average.
“It is all about playing our game,” the sophomore from Dothan said. “Yes, we have seen them before, but they have also seen us and so we are going to go back and study our film and see how she (Hoover) has pitched us and just figure out what our game plan is and what our approach is going to be at the plate.”
Cooper was named an All-American on Wednesday while her junior team, second baseman Emily Carosone, joined her on the first team. Junior left fielder Tiffany Howard was named a third team All-American.
Emily Carosone is a strong fielder who hits for power with a high batting average (.453).
Hoover and Allie Walljasper have been keys to LSU's run to the College World Series. They have combined for an 0.84 earned run average through the regional and super regional games with opponents batting just .193.
Hoover averages 7.5 strikeouts per seven innings pitched. Against Auburn, in a 2-1 loss to open a three-game series in Baton Rouge, she gave up just three hits and struck out six and was out-dueled by Auburn junior pitcher Marcy Harper.
After Auburn won game two of the series 1-0 Hoover picked up the win in game three as LSU defeated the Tigers 7-1, the last time the 54-9 Auburn team lost a game.
Auburn pitcher Lexi Davis, who won both games in the super regional vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, was asked if it was an advantage or disadvantage playing a rematch game vs. LSU. “It can go either way, but I think it is a good thing for us,” she said. “We have seen their pitching, we know how they hit, we know how they play defense and I think it is something we can prepare for and we are not really worried about it.”
The College World Series features eight teams playing in a double elimination format until two teams remain. They will match up in a best two-out-of-three competition to determine the national champion.
Clint Myers and the Tigers won the first SEC Tournament title in Auburn history this season as well as the first regional and super regional titles.
Auburn’s second-year head coach, Clint Myers, won two national titles at Arizona State before moving to the SEC, which he said has developed into the nation’s top softball conference. The numbers support that with defending national champ Florida in the World Series this year along with two other SEC teams--Alabama and Tennessee.
Tiffany Howard is Auburn's leadoff hitter with a .429 batting average and the junior is an outstanding left fielder.
The eight teams that advanced to the College World Series are the teams that earned the top eight national seeds for the 64-team NCAA Tournament. "It goes to show you that the NCAA and the way they rank the teams came out extremely accurate this year because all eight made it," Myers said.
"They're all eight great teams," Myers added. "We're excited to be part of that eight. And like Beth (LSU coach Beth Toringa) said, it's a battle. When you get to this, it is the best eight teams and every time you go on the field you have to bring your A game because if you make a mistake or if you don't have the luck, it's tough to win."