Photo by Jason Caldwell

Auburn and UCLA Set for Soft Rematch In College World Series At Oklahoma city

Auburn's coach Clint Myers and UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez discuss their teams prior to Thursday's opener in the College Softball World Series.

Coach Clint Myers (above) is in his third season at Auburn.

Oklahoma City, Okla.--UCLA, Auburn’s opponent in the opening round of the College Softball World Series, is familiar with the Tigers and in particular the team’s head coach, Clint Myers.

Auburn ended UCLA’s 2015 season with a wild 11-10 victory in 11 innings in last year’s World Series. The two teams will meet again on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CDT (ESPN TV coverage) in the opening round of the 2016 event, a double-elimination tournament featuring eight teams.

“I thought I got rid of Clint as soon as he left the Pac-12, but here we are again,” said UCLA coach . The Bruins were conference rivals of the Arizona State teams coached by Myers, who won a pair of national championships while in charge of the Sun Devils.

“I have a lot of respect for him being able to get out there and do what he does consistently,” Inouye-Perez said. “It is always a great opportunity to be able to get out and there and compete against them, but I am looking forward to it. Right now it is not about our opponent. We are out there to play our game.”

UCLA advanced to the World Series by taking two of three games last week on the road vs. Pac-12 rival Oregon. The Tigers also had to get past a Pac-12 opponent, losing the opener of the Auburn Super Regional to Arizona before sweeping a doubleheader on Sunday to earn back-to-back trips to Oklahoma City.

Myers said he is excited about the opportunity for his Tigers, who will take the field on Thursday with a 54-10 record that includes winning the SEC Tournament title.

“There are eight quality, well-coached teams in this tournament,” Myers said. “The fans are going to get their money’s worth as far as seeing great softball.”

Auburn needs three more wins to break last year’s school record for victories in season. UCLA has a 40-14-1 record and has won a dozen national softball titles, more than any other program.

“Auburn is excited to be here for a second year in a row,” said Myers, who predicted the tournament will be an exciting one. “We would like to thank the Oklahoma City folks for putting on a tremendous event.”

The Tigers return many key players from their initial World Series appearance in 2015, including three who received All-America recognition on Wednesday when junior third baseman Kasey Cooper was named to the first team, senior second baseman Emily Carosone was selected for the second team and senior first baseman Jade Rhodes was a third team pick. It was the first All-American recognition for and the third each for Cooper and Carosone, a first in Auburn softball history.

Photo by Jason Caldwell

Emily Carosone was the SEC Tournament Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

Last year’s UCLA-Auburn game had plenty of excitement as the two teams battled late into the night for more than four hours in an elimination game. “I think it was a great example of two teams that were playing down to the last pitch, ” Inouye-Perez said

Asked if it is exciting for her Bruins to get another shot at Auburn, the coach said, “Being able to win the super regional the way we did last week it didn’t matter who we played, to be honest. Every team is playing their best ball now. The key is can you continue to play your style of play no matter who you are playing so for us it is about us--how we play ball.”

Inouye-Perez was asked if an active shooter incident that put the campus on lock-down for part of the day on Wednesday had impacted her players. “Obviously, everyone is a little shaken up,” she said. “The positive is we are here. We could have easily been on campus if we weren’t here. In the crazy world we live in, we get to be fortunate and celebrate the softball bubble we are in.”

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