Auburn Coach Tina Deese will be guiding her Tigers in the NCAA Regionals Thursday.
On February 9th, this writer predicted that the Auburn Softball team would win the SEC. I will be the first to say I was wrong. However, the Tigers did come close in the SEC Tournament last Saturday. After defeating the powerful Florida Gators they were eliminated in a one run game to eventual Champion Tennessee.
Nonetheless, Auburn had a great year, a record setting year. And they found out Sunday night, that the year is not over yet. The Tigers set another record on Sunday when the Softball Team received a bid to play in the NCAA Tournament. The selection marks the fourth consecutive year that Auburn will be making the trip to the big dance.
The Tigers also set a record this season for the best start (20-2) in the history of the program; which included the program's longest winning streak (15 games). In addition the Tigers had their first series win over a top five team (Georgia), the most wins over top 25 teams since 2005 (seven) and the program's longest stay (13 weeks) in the top 25 since 2006.
The Tournament will be the last hurrah for four players who have meant so much to the program. Seniors Kyndall White, Kelley Smilley, Katie Colton, and Caitlyn Stangl will be playing in their final Tournament as Auburn Tigers.
The NCAA announcement placed the No. 23 Tigers (39-17) against BYU (38-16) in the Seattle Regional; which will see the Tigers begin play at theUniversity of Washington at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, May 19. The other half of the bracket will be Portland State (34-16) taking on No.15 Washington (34-14).
Auburn Head Coach Tina Deese said, "BYU is going to be a tough match up in a very tough regional. We have our work cut out for us. BYU is a good team. I know our team is very excited about the challenge in front of us and we are ready to get to work."
In her tenure on the Plains, Coach Deese has led the Tigers to seven winning seasons, including five in the last six years. She enjoyed her 800th win on May 1st when the Tigers defeated Georgia 3-1. This year makes the Tigers eighth berth in the NCAA Tournament since 2002.
Auburn has come on strong the last three weeks, ridding a wave of confidence, defeating seven nationally ranked teams, including No. 3 Florida in the SEC Tournament and taking No.7 Tennessee to the wire in a one run game on Saturday.
Riding that wave of confidence has given Deese's Tigers their first winning record in conference play since 2005. Pitcher Angel Bunner said "We've gained a lot more confidence (the past three weeks). It puts more of a fight to it now." And that fighting confidence is just what will be needed for the Tigers to continue setting records for the 2011 season.
Good luck Tigers. The hearts of the Auburn faithful are with you.
The Auburn Softball season is over. The BYU Cougars ended
Coach Tina Deese said, "I'm proud of the way we came back and tied the game after falling behind,. "It looked like we had gained the momentum then but the defensive mistakes cost us. BYU took advantage of what we gave them."
Despite what many saw as a rebuilding year,