Jan. 25, 2013
Auburn, Ala. - The Auburn softball team will open the 2013 season by hosting the Plainsman Invitational tournament Feb. 8-10 at Jane B. Moore Field.
The Tigers will host Army, Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Kent State and Furman in the three-day tournament. Admission is free.
"We are working hard and looking forward to getting the season started," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "I have been pleased with the leadership from our seniors; they have really stepped up this spring and been more vocal."
"We needed our seniors to fill that leadership role and they have responded," Deese added. "Brooke, CJ, Liana, Caitlin Schultze and Baylee have all answered the bell thus far and that has been a real positive for us. We need that from them every day throughout the end of the season."
Auburn goes into the 2013 season with a roster comprised of 12 underclassmen including nine freshmen, which ties the 2000 Tigers' as the largest freshmen class in program history.
Offensively, the Tigers will see outfielder Morgan Estell return after an injury-shortened 2012 season. Estell suffered a season-ending injury just 15 games into the season. Estell, who earned Freshman All-SEC Team honors in 2011, was hitting .432 with 11 RBI, 17 runs and a .519 on-base percentage at the time of her injury.
"One of the goals I have for myself is to come back and play stronger than I did last year," Estell said. "I am excited for the season to start and see how we all come together as a team."
Lathan, who transferred from Houston prior to the 2012 season, hit .306 with 28 RBI in her first season as a Tiger. Sophomore outfielder Branndi Melero will look to improve upon her freshmen campaign which saw her earn Freshman All-SEC Team honors after hitting .274 overall, .260 in SEC play.
The Tigers do not return a starting pitcher from last season, which saw starters Angel Bunner, Jenee Loree and Lauren Schmalz graduate. Junior Hilary Mavromat is the only player on the Auburn roster who has logged any time in the circle at the collegiate level. Mavromat threw two complete innings in three relief appearances in 2012 and has pitched 10.1 innings for her career. Freshmen Marcy Harper and Lexi Davis accompany Mavromat in the Tigers' pitching rotation.
"One of the things I have been impressed with is the movement on their pitches so far in preseason practice," Deese said. "They have been working to get better every day and we will continue to do so."
Auburn will play 12 consecutive home games to start the 2013 season and will play 17 of its first 21 games at Jane B. Moore Field. Southeastern Conference play begins March 8, when the Tigers host the Florida Gators. The Georgia Bulldogs, Ole Miss Rebels and South Carolina Gamecocks round out Auburn's home conference schedule.