Auburn Softball is currently at 27-3 on the season as they prepare for the second SEC series of the year. That seems like a really good record that should give Auburn fans a ton of confidence. However, it hasn't quite been as smooth as we would like it.
The Tigers have won thanks to dominating pitching performances by Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson. The bats have at times been powerful, but nothing on the order of the last two seasons.
Now, they're about to face their toughest test, yet. This weekend, Auburn will be in Gainesville to face the #1 ranked (#2 in one poll) Florida Gators. Florida nearly swept Auburn last regular season. Auburn defeated the Gators in the SEC Tournament. These two teams have played a number of very close and hard fought games over the last few years.
Florida enters this game with only one loss. That loss is an almost inexplicable loss at the hands of the hapless 7-21 Maryland Terrapins.
|ERA||Opponent ERA||Batting AVG||Opponent's BA%||Slugging %||On Base %|
So, Auburn's pitching is pretty good. The Gators' may be even better. Not to mention the fact that Florida's batters have been on fire this season, too. Auburn's batting average is a surprisingly low .295 compared to the Gators' .328.
For the Tigers, the key batters have been slapper Victoria Draper and sluggers Carlee Wallace, Haley Fagan, and Kasey Cooper. Wallace packs a ton of power into a tiny little frame. I guess her size helps her get pitches to hit because there's such a small target if the pitcher wants to get a strike.
For the Gators, Kayli Kvistad leads the team with a .435 batting average. She doesn't do it through too much power since she's only hit 3 home runs on the season. As a team, the Gators have driven in 185 runs for the season. That's compared to 181 for Auburn. So, even though some numbers look much better for Florida than they do for Auburn, the Tigers are still driving in just as many runs.
On the pitching side, the Gators have a few pitchers they can turn to, just like Auburn. They have four pitchers who have made an appearance this season, and not a one of them has an ERA above 0.85. That's extremely impressive. They're led by Kelly Barnhill and Delanie Gourley, who have ERAs of 0.23 and 0.82, respectively. With the way Auburn has struggled at the plate at times, that's going to be a tough group to get runs on.
For Auburn, the primary pitchers are Martin and Carlson. Their ERAs are 0.98 and 0.93 respectively. Carlson is still undefeated this season with a 15-0 record in 19 appearances.
The key for the Tigers in this one is going to be getting something going with the bats. Auburn hasn't done nearly as well at the plate this year as in years past under Clint Myers. We know the pitchers are strong, but the biggest question is whether or not the Tigers can get runs to support them.
The Tigers have played to their level of competition over the last few weeks. They faced an extremely tough LSU squad in a series two weeks ago, but this will be their toughest test yet. This will be a game against the best. It's a chance to show that this is a team that belongs back in the Women's Colege World Series for a third year in a row. It will be a tough one, but it's one our girls are capable of winning if they play their best.
Schedule and How to Watch:
Saturday, 25 March: 5:00 pm Central, ESPN2
Sunday, 26 March: 6:00 pm Central, ESPN2
Monday, 27 March: 6:00 pm Central, WatchESPN