Auburn softball has gone on quite the journey over the last 2-3 years. The only coach the program had ever known, Tina Deese, was let go following the 2012-13 campaign. Superstar coach Clint Myers was brought over from Arizona State, where he went to seven College World Series and won two of them.
In Clint Myers' first season, they made an NCAA Regional. They felt they should have done more.
In his second season, they're in the Big Show. The Women's College World Series. They'll face an SEC Schedule to make it to the final round, and possibly even face an SEC team there if they make it.
Game 1 today is against LSU. We previewed the path, yesterday. LSU is a familiar foe for Auburn, having faced them in the regular season and taking the series in Baton Rouge.
The Bayou Bengals won their Regional that consisted of themselves, Nebraska, Texas Southern, and Clint Myers' former Arizona State squad. It was a close thing, though. The Tigers were defeated by the Sun Devils in the second game of the Regional, defeated Nebraska in the Loser's Bracket, and then defeated ASU 5-0 and 4-3 to advance to the Super Regional. They again faced an Arizona foe, defeating the Wildcats in two games to sweep.
Making the NCAA Tournament is nothing new to LSU. They've made it every year except 2005 since 1998. They've been to the Women's College World Series three times prior to this season (the most recent being 2012). They finished fourth in the SEC's regular season standings this season, but were bounced by Tennessee in their first game of the tourney.
LSU's strength appears to be in its pitching. They have the 7th best Earned Run Average in NCAA Softball at 1.76. The only SEC team better is Florida at #6. Where is Auburn, you ask? Waaaay down in 102nd place with an ERA of 3.57.
We know LSU's pitching is good. They limited Auburn to four runs over the entire regular season series. This was right when Auburn's bats were in a bit of a slump, though. Hopefully the awakening in the Super Regional continues. What's going to be most important for the Auburn Tigers, though, will be getting runs across the plate. Auburn is currently sitting at an 0-fer when it comes to the bases loaded during the NCAA Tournament. It's not a case of it happening once or twice, either. Auburn is 0-17 since the second inning of the SEC Championship against Tennessee with the bases juiced. That's... that's bad.
Auburn's strength has been in their bats and the defense. The Good Tigers average 8.06 runs/game. That's good for 4th in the nation. LSU is 22nd in the nation with 6.68 runs/game. Auburn will have to over come those troubles with the bases loaded or runners in scoring position, though. Runs will be at a premium, and every one will count.
On the defensive side, Auburn is good at turning double plays. They were tops in the SEC this season with 36 of them. That's good for 6th most in the NCAA. Kasey Cooper started three of them in the final Super Regional game against UL-Lafayette all by herself (along with hitting the key three run home run to seal the deal). Auburn allows teams to hit, but they've been great at getting out of jams all season long.
We've seen this game three times already this season. Auburn came out victorious in 2 out of 3. Can them make it 3 out of 4 and continue on the easy path to the WCWS Finals? We'll see!
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