Kaylee Carlson (above) is a junior pitcher having a terrific season for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--Auburn faces perhaps its toughest challenge of the softball regular season with a three-game road trip to take on SEC rival Florida.
The Gators, who are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in this week’s polls, lead the league with a 5-0 record and are 27-1 overall after taking an 8-0 run-rule victory over South Florida on Wednesday night.
Last year the Tigers and Gators played four times. Florida won two out of three in the regular season at Jane B. Moore Field, but Auburn eliminated the Gators from the SEC Tournament on the way to defending its title.
"They are real good," Auburn coach Clint Myers said. "They have got talented athletes and they are well coached. Everybody says they have the best pitching staff in the country. I am not sure about that. That is why we play the games. We have played them tough in the past."
Auburn, which is 27-3 overall, is 2-1 in the SEC. The Tigers have won six consecutive games. Florida is on a 19-game winning streak since being upset by Maryland.
Myers said recent games matching the Tigers and Gators have been "good for the fans to watch." Auburn’s fourth-year head coach added, "They have been well-played games for the most part."
This year’s regular season contests will be played at 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday, 6 p.m. on Sunday and 6 p.m. on Monday. The first two contests will be televised on ESPN2. The Monday night game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Auburn’s coach is continuing his theme that started in preseason. "We have to be a lot more consistent," he said when talking about his team’s hitting. “We can’t squander opportunities.
"They (Florida) had not been scoring many runs until this last weekend and boy they put a hurting on South Carolina," he said. Florida defeated South Carolina 6-0, 13-1 and 10-0 before winning again vs. South Florida. "Their bats are back and their pitching has been excellent all year long."
Clint Myers led the Tigers to the back-to-back College World Series in 2015 and 2016.
Auburn, which is ranked fourth and sixth in this week’s polls, has been getting strong pitching from junior Kaylee Carlson (15-0, 0.93 ERA) and sophomore Makayla Martin (12-3, 0.98 ERA).
In recent years the Tigers have normally been at or very near the top in many of the SEC’s offensive categories, but his year that hasn’t been the case. The Tigers will bring a .295 batting average into the series with a .495 slugging percentage. Last year the Tigers hit .317 with a .525 slugging percentage.
"We are still trying to figure out our own identity," AU's Myers said. "If the older kids step up and lead the younger ones to what we are capable of, then it is going to be a very, very intense and good series."