Last night, Auburn played a doubleheader against the Tigers of Tennessee State for their last non-conference games of the 2016 softball season. The games ended as most games have at Jane B. Moore Field: with shut-out victories.
In Game 1, Auburn went with Sophomore Kaylee Carlson on the mound. Carlson has an ERA of 1.00 in her 28 innings pitched so far this season, and her prowess on the mound showed. She pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, walking only two batters, and striking out seven.
Carlee Wallace was the first Tiger across the plate in this one after she legged out her team-leading third triple of the season in her first at-bat in the 2nd inning and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The Tigers would add two more in the 3rd, one in the 5th thanks to an Emily Carosone home run, and then two more in the 6th on Whitney Jordan's home run and Tiffany Howard scoring on a throwing error.
In Game 2, ace Marcy Harper took the mound. She pitched four scoreless innings, allowing two hits, two walks, and tallying up eight strikeouts. Lexi Davis came on in relief to finish out the 5 inning game.
At the plate, Tiffany Howard continued her dominance, getting three hits in her four plate appearances. Kasey Cooper picked up 4 RBIs to lead the team in this one. There were no home runs to speak of, but the Tigers slowly ate away at Tennessee State pitcher Erica O'Kane to reach the 8 run mark in the 5th inning and close out yet another run-rule game at home.
Auburn closed out the non-conference slate with some pretty amazing stats. Courtesy of Scott Scroggins on Twitter, Auburn has only allowed 24 total runs in their 23 games, this year. Meanwhile, there are three Tigers who have scored 28 or more by themselves. Only three home runs have been hit off Auburn's pitchers while there have been four games this year when Auburn has hit four or more.
Perhaps most amazing are these "runs by inning" numbers. I have to embed this tweet for the full effect:
.@Auburn_Softball scoring by inning:— Scott Scroggins (@ScrogginsNoggin) March 10, 2016
Opponents have scored a total of 24 runs.
Want to know why the numbers are so much less in the 6th and 7th innings? It's because Auburn hasn't often had to go that far. 13 of the 23 games this season have ended by run-rule.
MVPs of the Non-Conference Schedule:
The Pitching Staff. Every one of them. The team's total ERA through the non-conference schedule is 0.96. See above for the total number of runs scored by opponents for just how dominant Auburn's pitching has been. Auburn pretty much rode Marcy Harper, Lexi Davis, and Rachel Walters last year. The addition of Kaylee Carlson and Makayla Martin have just made an already stellar staff even more deadly.
Tiffany Howard. Auburn has scored 71 first inning runs this year, and Howard's .545 batting average and .593 on-base percentage are a big part of that. She doesn't have any home runs, but she gets on base, and the hitters that come after her are very good about putting her across the plate.
Carlee Wallace. Wallace leads the team in triples with three this season, and if you've seen how short she is (smallest on the team at 5'2), then you know she's got some series wheels. She also has five doubles to go along with those triples.
The Bench. With the way the season has gone, Auburn has gone to its bench a number of times or rotated players in and out of the starting line-up. They have not disappointed. There are only two Tigers who have not gotten a hit, yet, and they've only had five total plate appearances between them.
Kasey Cooper. Cooper set the Auburn record for most home runs in a career against Indiana last weekend. She set that record early in her third campaign, and there's no telling how high it will be before she leaves. She's been the SEC Player of the Week for the last two weeks in a row. She's batting .500, has ten doubles, seven home runs, and a slugging percentage of 1.032, this season. Oh, and she's a dynamite fielder, too. She makes diving catches and grabs stops look effortless. There's a reason she was chosen to represent her country on the USA Women's Softball Team.
SEC Play Begins.
Last year, Auburn Softball made it to the team's first-ever Women's College World Series. This weekend, the Tigers begin their true journey to make it back to Oklahoma City. Auburn, the 3rd ranked team in the nation, welcomes #1 Florida to Jane B. Moore Field. The Gators knocked Auburn out of the Women's College World Series in the semi-final round, last year. Auburn hopes to make a statement early in the conference schedule against the visiting Gators, this year.
War Eagle, ladies. Keep on grinding!