Carlee Wallace (above), a junior catcher, is a key player for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--With a chance to improve on last season’s final regular season SEC record the Auburn softball Tigers will take on rival Alabama in a three-game series beginning on Friday evening in Tuscaloosa. Auburn takes a 15-6 SEC mark into the contest.
With a sweep of the Tide the Tigers would have two more wins than the 2016 squad, which finished 16-7 in league play before moving on to finish 58-12 as the SEC Tournament champion and College World Series runnerup.
Auburn, which is 43-8 overall, is trying to enhance its seeding for the NCAA Tournament and the same is true for Alabama, which is 39-13 overall and 11-9 in the SEC after back-to-back, walk-off road losses to Ole Miss. Auburn comes into the contest following a three-game home series sweep vs. Mississippi State.
Auburn coach Clint Myers said he expects that Tide coach Pat Murphy will have his players ready to give Auburn a major test. “He does a good job of coaching his team,” Myers said. “His team has been nationally ranked forever.”
The Tigers are ranked No. 9 and No. 10 in the polls this week, but more importantly the team is No. 4 in RPI, which is a major factor in NCAA Tournament seeding. Alabama is 14th and 15th in the polls and No. 16 in RPI. During the Saturday night telecast, the NCAA’s selection committee is expected to announce its second round of tentative seedings for the tournament. In the first one the Tigers were listed as a potential No. 5 national seed going into the the NCAA regionals.
A series win by the Tide could help Alabama receive an NCAA regional host site bid. A series win by the Tigers could help Auburn be a host site for a regional and a super regional for a third consecutive year if the Tigers advance to that round.
After not playing in the regular season the Tigers and Tide could meet again next week in Knoxville, Tenn., at the SEC Tournament. Auburn will receive an opening round bye as either the No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 seed before beginning play on Thursday. Alabama will be playing on Wednesday with the potential to be seeded as high as No. 5 in the tournament.
Junior right-hander Kaylee Carlson has 10 SEC victories this season and a 1.24 earned run average.
Kaylee Carlson, who leads the SEC in wins at 24-3, is scheduled to pitch for the Tigers on Friday. Carlee Wallace, who suffered an injury on Sunday, is expected to be back in the starting lineup as Carlson’s catcher.
"I will be ready," said Wallace, who had to get seven stitches in her mouth after a collision with the Mississippi State shortstop while sliding into second base on a double in the first inning of game three of the series vs. the Bulldogs.
The impact also moved one of her teeth and the junior said that she is still in pain, but added, “More than anything I need to be there for my team.”
Friday’s 7 p.m. CDT contest will be televised as part of the SEC Network’s Bases Loaded coverage and will be streamed on-line at SEC+. Saturday’s game will be on ESPN at 7 p.m. and the Sunday game is scheduled for noon on ESPN2.