Coach Clint Myers (above) talks to a group of visiting softball coaches following a preseason practice at Jane B. Moore Field.
Auburn, Ala.--After making Auburn’s first-ever appearance in college softball’s world series last season, the goal for the Tigers is finding a way to win the championship in 2016.
“We had a phenomenal season last year, but if we could have played three more days we might have been able hold a (national championship) trophy over our heads,” said Clint Myers, who is heading into his third season as head coach of the Tigers.
“The plan is for three more days and to have that opportunity to lift that trophy,” he told Inside the Auburn Tigers. “I told them it started Friday when we had two good sessions.
“We have got some team bonding things planned and we have other things planned to get the chemistry, fundamentals and technique right,” he pointed out. “It is the start of a lot of repetitions, a lot of work and a big commitment to be great.”
Last season the Tigers did a heavy rewrite on the school record book on the way to posting a 56-11 record that included Auburn’s first SEC softball tournament championship.
The Tigers will be immersed in softball training through Tuesday before changing their schedule when spring semester classes begin on Wednesday. “It is about getting started in the right direction, doing the right things in the right way,” Myers said.
The Tigers will open the season at renovated Jane B. Moore Field on Feb. 11th against Appalachian State. The bleacher seats on the first base and third base sides of the facility have been replaced by chairback seats, all which have been claimed by season ticket holders. Upgraded concessions and new bleacher seats are being added as well as a playground for children.
On the injury front, the returning starter at first base, power-hitting Jade Rhodes, is back in action following shoulder surgery. “Jade missed the fall so this is kind of her fall practice,” Myers said. “She looked pretty good. She has been released and you can’t tell anything happened. She is in better shape now and I think she is stronger. We are looking for good things out of Jade.”
Last season’s starting shortstop, Haley Fagan, and her backup, Kelsey Bogaards, are both recovering from knee injuries, but are expected to be available for action later in the season.
“The freshman and sophomore shortstop we have got played really well so it is going to be an interesting battle to see who is out there on Feb. 11th,” Myers said. “Casey McCrackin is the freshman and Whitney Jordan is the sophomore.
Casey McCrackin catches a pop up at practice. The shorstop is a freshman from Cantonment, Fla., who played at Tate High School.
“We moved Whitney to the outfield and she did a great job,” Myers pointed out. “She would have probably been our starting right fielder, but when we lost two shortstops we had to bring her back into the infield. With Casey we thought we could just bring her along, but she has been thrown into the fire, too. Both of them are responding well. We will do the best we can with what we have got and get after it.”
Other than the two shortstops, the Tigers should have everybody ready for action to open the season with most of the key players from 2015 back for another run at SEC and national titles. “We have a couple of little nagging injuries,” Myers said. “You hate to have those to start the season, but we are moving on the right direction with most of the kids and that is the key thing.
The Tigers return a pair of All-Americans in the infield with Kasey Cooper back at third base for her junior season and Emily Carosone at second base for her senior year. Cooper returned from California this week in time for preseason practice after being selected as one of 17 players for Team USA.