Auburn junior second baseman Emily Carosone (above) talks with Clint Myers.
Auburn, Ala.--For the second consecutive year the Auburn Tigers will face off against softball powerhouse UCLA when Coach Clint Myers’ team opens the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City on Thursday.
Getting past the Bruins 11-10 in extra innings a season ago in an elimination game at Oklahoma City, Auburn will try to take down the 11-time champion once again, something Myers pointed out won’t be easy.
“We sent them home so I’m sure they’re going to be talking about that,” Myers said. “I would if I was coaching them. They finished second in the Pac 12, we finished first. It’s a good matchup. They’re a good ball club. All eight teams there have earned the right to say they’re one of the eight best. You have to go play your best softball and if we stay with the process and stay with the plan, I like our chances.”
Auburn junior third baseman Kasey Cooper, the SEC Player of the Year, makes a throw in Sunday's Auburn Super Regional action where the Tigers defeated Arizona twice to earn a trip to Oklahoma City.
A dynamic offensive team, UCLA enters Thursday’s World Series opener with a record of 40-14-1 thanks in large part thanks to a team batting average of .319 on the season. Leading the way is speedster Alexis Bennett with a .412 average, an on-base percentage of .500 and 12 stolen bases.
The Bruins have plenty of power with 65 home runs this season. Much of that total comes from three players. Delaney Spauling leads the team with 17 bombs and 61 RBI this year while both Mysha Sataraka and Madeline Jelenicki each have 13 home runs. Also one of the top defensive shortstops in the country, Spaulding is definitely a player to watch on Thursday.
On the mound UCLA has a team ERA of 3.58 with oft-injured Paige McDuffie (LHP) leading the way with a 6-1 record and a 3.12 mark. A former Gatorade National Player of the Year, McDuffie pitched well in relief last weekend as the Bruins won at Oregon to advance. RHP Selina Ta’amilo (19-5, 3.39) and fellow RHP Johanna Grauer (15-8, 3.88) round out the staff for UCLA.
For Auburn it’s all about building on the success from a season ago in Oklahoma City. With a good idea of what to expect from the College World Series and all that goes with it, Myers said he’s ready to see his team take it to another level once again.
“We talked about it last year,” Myers noted. “The difference between last year and this year’s team is we’ve got experience. We know what to expect. It’s not going to be the first time. They’re not going to be as in awe. I mean, there’s a level of excitement just being there.
“Knowing what’s going to happen, and knowing the transition and how the backfield works, how the crowds are, where you’re going to stand and all the different things that go on and the fun things we’re going to do with them, they’re really excited about that. That experience is huge. That is a big difference and it’s going to help us at the College World Series this year.”
Thursday’s Schedule: (All times CDT)
8 Florida State vs. 16 Georgia, 11a.m., ESPN
4 Auburn vs. 12 UCLA, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
3 Oklahoma vs. 6 Alabama, 6 p.m., ESPN2
2 Michigan vs. 10 LSU, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2