Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning QB: Auburn Softball Marches On, SEC Baseball Tourney Time, Braden Smith

Talking Auburn softball hitting its stride, baseball's SEC Tournament, Braden Smith and more.

Auburn Softball Is Super

It’s playoff time and that means a Clint Myers’ coached team is playing its best. Over the weekend the Auburn Tigers ran through East Tennessee State and beat Cal twice to advance to the super regional next weekend against either Oklahoma or Tulsa.

Even though they had to gut out an extra-inning win on Saturday, Auburn put together its most complete weekend in a while with the three victories and punctuated it with an 8-2 dominating effort on Sunday against the Golden Bears.

Keying the effort was an offense that seems to be finding its stride at just the right time, particularly the bats of Kasey Cooper and Haley Fagan.

Going 0-3 with three strikeouts in a loss to LSU in the SEC Tournament, Cooper turned it around in a big way with six hits in 12 at-bats in the regional with three RBI and four runs scored. All six of those hits came in the final two games, a great sign for the Tigers heading into next weekend.

The same can be said of Fagan. Going 9-14 in the last four games, the Auburn shortstop has really turned it on in the middle of the order and is playing her best defense of the season as well.

Getting those two going with Victoria Draper, Carlee Wallace and Alyssa Rivera could give this Auburn team a potent lineup if they can continue to put it all together.

 

SEC Baseball Tournament Time

Auburn is back in the SEC Tournament and the Tigers enter with some momentum after winning two of three from Ole Miss in the final regular season series of the year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Coach Butch Thompson’s team will have to beat the Rebels a third time on Tuesday to advance to the double-elimination part of the tournament in Hoover.

With 16 wins in the league this year, the second-most for an Auburn team since 2003, the Tigers look to be in good shape to make an NCAA Regional, but winning on Tuesday would all but cement them in the 64-team field.

Because of that I won’t be surprised to see some new moves on the mound, one of which could be using sophomore Casey Mize in some capacity. Missing three of his last four starts and not very good at LSU in his last outing, the Springville native needs to knock some rust off and what better place to do that than at the spacious Hoover Met.

It’s doubtful he would be used in a long outing so getting 50-60 pitches out of him would probably be all Coach Thompson could ask of him. That could set up for him to be second into the game with possibly Keegan Thompson getting the start. For both guys it could be used as their bullpen day, allowing them to get their work in while also putting Auburn’s top two starters in the game to try to get the Tigers off on a good foot.

 

Big Braden

Going to Jane B. Moore Field to watch softball means usually seeing Auburn offensive lineman Braden Smith in attendance. The boyfriend of Auburn catcher/DP Courtney Shea, he has been a fixture at games the last three seasons. Talking with him on Saturday I’m just reminded what a truly gentle giant he is.

I never cease to be amazed at just how big he is without having the slightest bit of fat on his body. Built like a tight end even though he weighs 300 pounds, Smith is poised to have a terrific senior season as an offensive tackle. If FSU transfer Wilson Bell can step in and take over one of the guard spots, this Auburn offensive line could be fun to watch.

2017 Inside the Auburn Tigers Football Guide  

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