After coming up just short of a national championship last season, Auburn Softball begins this season with yet another game against the team who defeated them in the Women's College World Series: the Oklahoma Sooners. The two teams open the season in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as part of the Triple Crown Tournament.
These are the same schools and coaches, but Auburn, at least, is a very different team. For Auburn, gone are Emily Carosone, Jade Rhodes, Tiffany Howard, Kelsey Bogaards, Lexi Davis, Rachael Walters, and Marcy Harper. That's a large chunk of last year's team, including virtually the entire pitching staff.
For Oklahoma, 2016 was supposed to be a rebuilding season for a very young team. When you have an ace pitcher like now-Junior Paige Parker, you can get away with a lot of struggles elsewhere in the rebuilding. It also helps to have a bat like Sydney Romero. This will be a very strong Oklahoma team from the very start. They will be more than a handle for the Tigers to take on for their opening game of the season.
Auburn is an extremely young team this season with 15 freshman and sophomores. Whitney Jordan will be moving back to the outfield with a healthy Haley Fagan ready to resume her shortstop duties. Kasey Cooper is in her final season for the Tigers at third. The right side of the infield will see new players, though. Sophomore Kendall Veach will get the first start, though expect to see transfer Tannon Snow at that position when she returns from her current medical issues. The Tigers will use a rotation at second base to replace Emily Carosone according to the official site.
It doesn't get any easier after facing Oklahoma, either. The Tigers will turn around and play #13 Washington just a few hours later. Clint Myers wasn't kidding about wanting to give his girls postseason level play early on in the year to get them ready. Don't be surprised if the Tigers struggle early on this season and look to not be performing as well. Once they get it together, though, you know Clint Myers will have them back competing for championships by the time we reach May and June.
War Eagle ladies! Go get 'em!
How to Watch, Stream, Listen:
Time: 2 pm Eastern / 1 pm Central
Listen: Auburn Sports Network