A Second Look
Having a chance to take a deep breath and take another look at Auburn’s A-Day game I came away even more impressed by what I saw from the first defense. Yes Jarrett Stidham and Malik Willis were obviously very good, but some of that came because the defense had to tone down much of what they did so the offense could move the football.
Much of the spring has been about the first team defense dominating the action, especially outside where cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis were lights out. Less than full speed much of last season, Carlton Davis finally got healthy towards the end of the year and his play picked up dramatically. He goes into 2017 with something to prove and he is working hard to make that happen.
For Javaris Davis his redshirt freshman year showed why former AU coaches Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson were so high on him when they nabbed him out of Jacksonville, Fla. A running back and track star in high school, Javaris Davis isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the middle of the action and with the speed to run with just about anyone he forms half of one of the best cornerback duos Auburn has had in quite some time.
Growing Up Right Before Our Eyes
Early in this baseball season the prevailing thought was that Auburn had a great shot to win on Friday and Saturday with Keegan Thompson and Casey Mize on the mount, but Sunday was going to be a toss-up with either senior Gabe Klobosits or freshman Davis Daniel becoming the third starter.
It didn’t take long for the freshman from Montgomery to win the job just one week into the season, but it has taken him time to get adjusted to big-time college baseball. Fortunately for the Tigers it’s happening at the right time.
Lasting more than five innings just once in his first five weekend starts, Daniel has pitched into at least the sixth inning the last four times out, including a gem over the weekend at Tennessee when his team needed it the most.
Allowing just three hits and no runs in eight innings, Daniel’s performance made up for what was a very short bullpen on Saturday and allowed the offense to take control in an 8-1 win.
It continued what has been steady development for Daniel. Coming out of his third start of the season when he gave up five earned runs to Lipscomb in just one and one/third innings, Daniel’s ERA was a lofty 8.10. It now sits at 4.00 after allowing just seven earned runs in his last 24 ? innings. If he can continue to provide that kind of performance this Auburn team will have a chance to do big things before the season is complete.
At the end of the season Coach Clint Myers may look back on this past weekend vs. Missouri as a pivotal one for his team. Floundering to a 6-1 loss on Friday, the first loss to an unranked team for the Tigers since Myers’ first season on the Plains, the Tigers had their backs to the wall and very little momentum going into two the Saturday game.
Struggling mightily in SEC play with an ERA nearing 8.00, sophomore Makayla Martin looked closer to her old self as she allowed just two earned runs in a complete game win. Perhaps just as important was getting a pair of hits from All-American Kasey Cooper as well as freshmen Alyssa Rivera and Carmyn Greenwood.
Cooper looks to be coming out of her funk at just the right time with the Tigers hitting the stretch run of the SEC schedule. Batting just .162 12 games into the season the third baseman has been on a steady climb since that time and it has peaked the last few weeks. Starting SEC play just 2-18, Cooper is 9-19 the last two weekends.
It’s not coincidence that Cooper’s improvement comes on the heels of Rivera’s insertion into the everyday lineup. A true freshman who has shown a very good glove in right field, Rivera is batting .412 for the season, but her last three weeks have been nothing short of flaming hot.
Inserted into the starting lineup in the second game at Georgia, Rivera is 13-27 during the last eight games with six RBI. Her bat in the order should allow Cooper and Haley Fagan some protection and make the lineup a tougher one for opposing pitchers.