Auburn second baseman Emily Carosone (above), the MVP of the 2015 and 2016 SEC Softball Tournaments, will be making her third appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Auburn, Ala.--Fresh off of Saturday’s 7-1 victory over LSU in the Southeastern Conference Softball Championship Game, the Auburn Tigers learned on Sunday night they are the No. 4 national seed for the NCAA Tournament and will take on an in-state opponent to begin the event.
The Tigers will open play vs. Jacksonville State (41-15), the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion, with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT on Friday in the double-elimination event.
Jacksonville State is 0-4 vs. SEC teams this year losing to Missouri 8-0, Georgia 9-0, Florida 10-0 and Alabama 10-3.
Oregon State (30-18-1) will play South Carolina Upstate (32-13) at 3:30 p.m. at Jane B. Moore Field to open the regional scheduled to run Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field on the Auburn campus. The Tigers have not played any of the other three teams in their regional this season.
"It is going to be a good regional with three other teams that are deserving to be in there," said Auburn coach Clint Myers. "You can't look past them to Tennessee because that is a good regional, too. You have to go out and prove yourself day in and day out. That is what we need them to remember.
"They need to understand what they were able to accomplish in 36 hours (at the SEC Tournament) and they need to have that mentality going into that regional," he added. "They can't look past that. They have to stay focused and they have to stay committed to the fact of how they played against LSU, Florida and that other school...Alabama."
As the No. 4 national seed if Auburn (49-9) wins the regional like it did last year, the Tigers will need to win two out of three games at home in the super regional round to advance to the eight-team Women’s College World Series.
If the Tigers win their regional and Tennessee (41-14) wins its regional the two teams will play a rematch at Jane B. Moore Field. The Vols won two run-rule games vs. Auburn this year in Knoxville and the other game was rained out. Marist (45-11) Ohio State (33-18-1) and Arizona (36-19) are in Tennessee's regional.
Clint Myers is in his third year as head coach of the Tigers.
Florida, the 2016 regular season SEC champion and the defending national champ, is the No. 1 national seed, Michigan is No. 2 and Oklahoma is No. 3.
Last year the Tigers advanced to the College World Series for the first time in school history after making the regionals at Minnesota in Myers' first year with the Tigers. Auburn won two games in Oklahoma City before being eliminated 3-2 by Florida in nine innings, setting up the Gators to defeat Michigan for the national championship.
Auburn and Florida played four times this year with each side winning twice.
The Tigers go into the Auburn regional on a four-game winning streak, including three wins in the SEC Tournament at Starkville where they defeated Alabama 6-4 and Florida 2-1 in addition to outscoring LSU on Saturday.
Oregon is the No. 5 national seed followed by Alabama, James Madison, Florida State, Kentucky, LSU, Washington, UCLA, Tennessee, Louisiana-LaFayette, Missouri and the 16th seed is Georgia. Half of the 16 national seeds are from the Southeastern Conference, which advanced five of its teams to the 2015 College World Series. A total of 11 SEC teams made the field, matching the league's record, as South Carolina, Ole Miss and Texas A&M also made the 64-team field.
The softball Tigers show off their SEC Tournament Championship hardware after being introduced at Plainsman Park during Auburn's Sunday baseball game vs. Mississippi State.
The Tigers watched the NCAA Selection Show at Auburn Arena during their annual team banquet. At the event Emily Carosone was named the
MVP, center fielder Victoria Draper was the Most Improved and third baseman Kasey Cooper was named Most Clutch Player.
Carosone said she is pleased with the No. 4 national seed for a second year in a row and said she isn't concerned about a potential matchup in the super regionals vs. Tennessee. "We are excited because we have played them before. We know how to pitch them, we know how to play them on defense, we know how their pitchers pitch. It is exciting because it is another SEC school."
Commenting on being honoroed as her team's MVP, she said, "The award means a lot, but my team means more. It is all about my team what I do on the field--it is for my team."
Asked about the importance of carrying momentum from a four-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament after struggling late in the season losing series to Tennessee and Texas A&M, the senior said, "It is important. It is a rally. We don't want to lose. We want to play Auburn softball and get the little things done. I am excited to start practicing now to focus on the little things we can work on be better to get to the World Series.
"Our goal is to get to the World Series, but we know we have to take them one game at a time," Carosone added.