Tech Faces Tigers in College Station Friday

May 15, 2008 COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Louisiana Tech will open the 2008 NCAA Tournament Friday at 3:30 p.m. CST when the Lady Techsters face Southeastern Conference foe Auburn at Aggie Softball Complex on the campus of Texas A&M.

The game can be heard on KPCH 99.3 FM as well as over the internet by logging onto www.thepeach993.com with Tech associate athletic director Malcolm Butler providing the play by play action.

Tech (35-27) hopes to build on the momentum gained on its four-day run to the Western Athletic Conference Tournament title last week, capped by Saturday's 2-1 win over 17th ranked Nevada.

Head coach Sarah Dawson said she feels that her team is as prepared as it could be for what it will face against Auburn in Friday's first game.

"I can't predict what's going to happen," said Dawson, who has led Tech to its first winning season since 1999 and its first NCAA Tournament since 1995. "I feel good about where we are as a team right now. I don't feel that we are necessarily over confident.

"I feel our players have confidence because they beat some good competition last week (at the WAC Tournament), and it helped us prepare for this. They've been in the pressure situations before. I think we are physically and mentally prepared for this opportunity."

Tech has won six of its last seven games, including wins over Ole Miss, Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada (twice). Five of those wins were by one run as Tech is now 14-7 this season in one-run contests.

The Lady Techsters will need to find some offensive production against an Auburn staff that has registered a 2.08 earned run average this season. The Tigers (37-20) finished sixth in the SEC in the regular season and are one of eight members of the league to earn a bid to the postseason.

Anna Thompson (12-11, 2.01 ERA, 222 Ks in 149.2 IP) will most likely get the nod for the Tigers Friday although head coach Tina Deese has the luxury of a deep four-player staff which includes Brittany Day (11-5, 1.96), Lauren Schmalz (7-3, 1.87) and Angel Bunner (7-1, 2.62).

"I know that we are going to need our offense to be productive," Dawson said. "We know they have a strong staff; that's their strength. It's also our strength; our pitchers need to keep us in the game.

"We need to be able to come out and score some runs. We didn't show a whole lot of run production in Hawaii but went against good pitching just like we will this weekend. We need to utilize our speed at the top of our order and hit with power with the middle of our lineup."

Junior Krissi Oliver (18-13, 2.34) will most likely start for Tech in the circle, coming off her MVP showing at the WAC Tournament. Oliver has produced wins over Ole Miss, Hawaii and Nevada in the past two weeks.

She will be facing an Auburn lineup that is led by Taryn Gray (.293, 1 HR, 24 RBI), Tatiana Fernandez (.276, 6 HR, 32 RBI) and Jorja Bell (.238, 7 HR, 26 RBI).

This is Tech's ninth appearance in the NCAA Tournament where Tech is 10-11 all-time in regional play. Auburn is making its fifth appearance.

Auburn leads the all-time series 3-0.


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