Auburn, Ala.--Auburn, the SEC Softball Tournament champion, will take a four-game winning streak and a 49-9 record into the Auburn Regional that includes Jacksonville State, Oregon State and USC Upstate. Because of a threat of heavy rain on Friday the start times have been moved. Oregon State and USC Upstate are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. CDT followed by Jacksonville State vs. Auburn at 1:30 p.m.
The following are notes on the other three teams in the regional:
Jacksonville State Gamecocks (41-15, 26-0 OVC)
The Gamecocks enter Friday’s opener against Auburn as one of the hottest teams in the country. Winners of 32 of their last 34 games with the only losses to UAB way back on April 5 and to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament last week, the Gamecocks have run roughshod over conference foes this season, but struggled against top-flight competition this season.
Facing four SEC teams this season Jacksonville State was outscored 37-3, falling 8-0 to Missouri, 9-0 to Georgia, 10-0 to Florida and 10-3 to Alabama. The Gamecocks also lost twice to UAB and dropped two of three to Samford. This season Auburn beat UAB 8-1 and pummeled Samford 18-1 in just five innings.
Batting .311 as a team, Jacksonville State is led by Ella Dunnes’ .378 average, 70 hits and 43 runs scored. She is second on the team with eight home runs and 39 RBI this season. Emily Church supplies the power with 10 home runs and 41 RBI to lead the team in both categories.
In the circle Whitney Gillespie has been really good this season. Compiling a 16-2 record with an ERA of just 0.94, Gillespie has 109 strikeouts in 134 ? innings pitched this season. She has allowed just four home runs and opponents are batting just .156 against her this year.
Oregon State Beavers (30-18-1, 9-14 Pac 12)
Oregon State is a team that can lull you to sleep if you just look at the numbers because the Beavers have the capability of being a very good team on a given day. They have proven that on at least two occasions this season, beating No. 3 national seed Oklahoma 6-4 and shutting out Kentucky 8-0.
With a team batting average of .310 with 35 home runs, Oregon State has scored just 260 runs this season by using their speed as part of the process. Stealing 50 bases in 60 attempts with 74 doubles and 12 triples, they try to put the pressure on the defense. Leading that charge is shortstop McKenna Arriola with a .373 average, .443 on-base percentage and 11 stolen bases.
A two-headed pitching staff, all but 10 innings this season came from either Meehra Nelson and Bev Miller. Nelson is 16-8 this season with a 2.96 ERA in 40 appearances while Miller is 13-10 with a 3.34 ERA in 33 outings.
USC Upstate Spartans (42-13, 11-6 Atlantic Sun)
A very solid team from South Carolina that has put together a very good season, USC-Upstate has tested itself against several power five opponents this year, beating Virginia 11-1, falling to Virginia Tech 6-0, beating Ohio State 2-0, losing 8-6 to South Florida, 4-2 to North Carolina, 8-0 to North Carolina State and 1-0 to South Carolina.
A team that has plenty of offense, the Spartans are hitting .312 with 59 home runs and 121 stolen bases in 141 attempts. Kendsey Chappelear is one of the leaders of the running game for the Spartans with 34 steals in just 37 attempts. Amy Szymanowski (13 home runs) and Ryan Rector (15 home runs) provide the power for USC Upstate.
Holly McKinnon (25-6, 2.21) leads the way in the circle for the Spartans and has 186 strikeouts in 196 ? innings pitched in 2016. Lexi Shubert (9-5, 2.76) and Amanda Storch (7-2, 3.14) provide some quality arms as well for the Spartans.
1) Oregon State vs. USC Upstate--11 a.m. CDT
2) Auburn vs. Jacksonville State--1:30 p.m. CDT
3) Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2-- 1:30 p.m.
4) Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2-- 4 p.m.
5) Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4--6:30 p.m.
6) Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5-- 1:30 p.m.
7) If Necessary--4 p.m.