Tigers Open Up 2005 Season in Miami



Tigers Open Up 2005 Season in Miami

Auburn Softball at Diamond Fun & Sun Classic
Feb. 4-6
Miami, Fla.

Game Notes

Tigers Open Up 2005 Season At Diamond Fun & Sun Classic ...
      Auburn opens up its 2005 campaign with a trip to Miami, Fla. for the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic. The tournament, hosted by Florida International, pits the Tigers against South Florida, a 2004 NCAA Regional club and ranked No. 22 in the 2005 preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll. In addition,  Kentucky, a Southeastern Conference foe, is scheduled to face the Tigers in Miami. Auburn will also take on Illinois State and host Florida International in the three-day tournament.

A Quick Look Back ...
      Auburn came one victory short of earning its first berth into the Southeastern Conference title game, then narrowly lost two games in the Stanford NCAA Regional. The Tigers ended 2004 with a 42-18 record, and finished No. 23 in the nation, the program’s first ever postseason ranking.
      Sara Dean paced Auburn in 2004, leading the Tigers with a .333 batting average. Kristen Keyes, since departed after completing her senior season, went 27-12 last season, posting a miniscule 1.06 earned run average and 320 strikeouts in more than 243 innings of work.

Deese Enters Ninth Season With Tigers ...
      Auburn head coach Tina Deese returns for her ninth season at the helm of the Auburn softball program. A 1986 graduate of Florida State, Deese is the only coach in the program’s history. She has led the Tigers to a 248-246-1 overall record, including two NCAA Regional appearances.
      Deese is 534-369-1 in 16 collegiate seasons. She guided Huntington College for eight years before coming to the Plains.
      Deese adds the services of two new assistant coaches in 2005. Jack Byerley comes to the Tigers from Francis Marion University, where he served as head coach for two seasons. Ashley Moore, a former Tigers standout, joins Auburn after a season with the New England RipTide NPFL.

Scouting South Florida ...
      Bulls went 60-14 in 2004, advancing to the NCAA Tournament ... Fell in the NCAA Regionals to Oregon, 2-1 ... Bulls have gone to the NCAA Tournament three times in last four seasons and three straight times from 1996-98 ... Club finished third in Conference USA with a mark of 18-5 in conference play ... Was outstanding at USF Softball Field, going 33-3 at home ... Team returns six starters from last season, including one starting pitcher ... Leading returner is Kattrina Dowd, who batted .374 in 67 games while posting a .906 fielding percentage at second base ... Carmela Liwag, first base, batted .364 in 74 games ... Liwag led South Florida with 20 doubles and 49 RBI and posted a .981 fielding percentage ... Sophomore Danielle Urbanik went 12-4 from the circle in 2004 ... Urbanik made 29 appearances, 22 of which were starts, and completed four games ... Head Coach Ken Eriksen, a 1984 grad of USF, is 374-185-1 in eight years at the helm of the South Florida program ... Common opponents with Auburn include: Kentucky, Florida, Illinois State, Florida International and Stanford ...  South Florida has just two seniors on its roster and seven juniors.

Scouting Illinois State ...
      Redbirds went 33-19-1 in 2004, posting a 18-9 record in Missouri Valley Conference play ... Team finished third in MVC ... Illinois State went 11-4 at home in 2004, playing at the Redbird Softball Complex ... Head Coach Melinda Fischer, a 1972 graduate of Illinois State, is 643-446-3 in 21 seasons as a head coach ... Fischer has posted a 611-429-3 record in 19 seasons in Normal, Ill. ... Redbirds return 17 letterwinners and eight starters from last season’s club ... Illinois State features seven seniors on its roster and six freshmen ... Leading hitter in 2004 is senior Kate Stake ... Stake batted .295 with six home runs and 24 runs batted in ... Also posted a .986 fielding percentage at second base ... Utility player Mandy Garner led club with seven home runs but batted just .224 in 52 games ... Leader from the circle is sophomore Stacy Birk ... Birk had an impressive freshman season, going 19-7 in 38 appearances ... Started 27 games, completing 15, and posted seven shutouts ... No returning Redbird attempted more than seven steals in 2004 ... Common opponents with Auburn include: Florida International, Kentucky, South Florida, Ole Miss, Iowa and Boston College.

Scouting Kentucky ...
      Wildcats went 25-31-1 in 2004, taking home a 6-24 record in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference ... That figured placed Kentucky fifth in the SEC East ... Wildcats posted an 8-14 record at home and 10-15 away from Lexington ... Team returns 15 letterwinners and eight starters from 2004 ... Leading returner is junior infielder/pitcher Meghan Cooper ... Cooper batted .290 in 57 games in 2004 ... Cooper went 5-4 from the circle, appearing in 17 games and starting 10 games ... Sophomore infielder Amber Janneck had an outstanding freshman campaign, batting .279 while leading the club with 12 home runs, 34 runs batted in and a .558 slugging percentage ... Senior outfielder Jessica Nance batted just .197 last season, but swiped 21 bases in 22 attempts (.954) ... Team posted a .959 fielding percentage last season, and turned 17 double plays while opponents managed just 11 ... Head Coach Eileen Schmidt, a 1994 graduate of Virginia, is in her first season at the helm of Kentucky softball.

Scouting Florida International ...
      Team started off by splitting two games at the Sunshine State Softball Kickoff ... Florida International fell to Florida, 6-4, on Saturday, then defeated Florida Atlantic, 3-2, in its second game of the day ... Golden Panthers went 30-34 in 2004, including an 11-9 mark in Sun Belt Conference play ... That mark placed the club second in the conference ... Team went 22-15 at University Park Softball Field, its home stadium, but just 2-15 away from Miami ... Head Coach Kim Gwydir, a 1988 graduate of Adelphi, is 325-240-1 in 10 seasons as a head coach ... Gwydir is 209-171 in seven seasons at the helm of the Florida International program ... Team returns seven letterwinners and four starters from last season ... The Golden Panthers welcome 10 newcomers into the program ... Top three batters from 2004 are no longer with the program ... Leading returner is junior Jennifer Powell ... Powell batted .242 in 56 games ... Sophomore shortstop Tabitha Embry is the leading returner with eight stolen bases in 14 attempts ... Top returner from the circle is senior lefty Amanda Nealer ... Nealer posted a 1.53 ERA in 2004, going 12-12 in 39 appearances ... Nealer started 31 games, completing 14 while posting five shutouts ... Common opponents in 2005 with Auburn include: Florida, Illinois State, Kentucky, South Florida, UAB and Middle Tennessee State.

Dean On USA Softball Watch List ...
      Senior Sara Dean was named to USA Softball’s 40 player watch list for its 2005 Collegiate Player of the Year on Jan. 27. The winner will be announced sometime during the 2005 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., in early June.
      Dean, a Valencia, Calif., native, comes back for her senior season after batting .333 in 2004, leading her to Third-Team All-America honors. Dean also garnered All-SEC First-Team honors and a First-Team All-Region selection.

Welcome To The Coaching Staff ... 
      Deese added two new assistants in the offseason, welcoming Jack Byerley and Ashley Moore. 
      Byerley comes to the Tigers from Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., where he served as the head coach for two seasons. He amassesd a 73-26 record in two seasons at the helm of the program, leading the Patriots to their first ever national ranking in Division II play in 2003. Prior to serving as the head coach at Francis Marion, Byerley spent two seasons as a the top assistant at Florida. With the Tigers, he will be responsible for the team’s hitters and infielders.
      Moore comes to Auburn just two seasons after completing her collegiate eligibility and leaving as one of the most prolific players in team history. In four seasons with the Tigers, Moore broke 15 program records. She became the program’s first-ever Second-Team All-American in 2001 after batting .381 with 22 doubles, 11 home runs and 40 runs batted in. She signed a contract with the New England RipTide of the National Pro Fastpitch Softball League in January 2004.

Getting Into The Ranks ...
      Auburn’s schedule has set the Tigers up for tough non-conference and Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers will play six teams ranked in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and USA Today/NFCA Top 25 polls. Florida and Mississippi State also received votes in both or either of the polls.
      Auburn will get an early look at a ranked opponent when the Tigers play South Florida at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic. The Bulls are ranked 22nd in the 2005 preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll. Stanford, meanwhile, one of Auburn’s opponents in late February at the Stanford Invitational, is ranked fifth in the preseason poll.

That’s A First ...
      Auburn and Kentucky have met 20 times in the Tigers’ eight-year history, but the game between the two Feb. 5 at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic will mark the first time they will meet on a neutral field. The Wildcats and Tigers, however, were scheduled to meet in Miami the first weekend of play last season, but rain forced the cancellation of the game. Auburn holds the all-time series record, 13-7, including a 8-2 mark at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers have won the past eight matchups between the two teams, going 5-0 at home during that span. Kentucky hasn’t defeated the Tigers since April 27, 2002.
      The game will mark Auburn’s first contest against a Southeastern Conference team in preseason tournament play since losing to Arkansas, 7-4, in 2000 at the UTA Tournament in Grand Prairie, Texas. Auburn, however, has gone 8-12 in neutral games against SEC teams in the postseason tournament.

No Standing In The Way ...
      Of the teams Auburn opens up with at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic in Miami, only South Florida has a winning record against the Tigers, going 3-1. Against Kentucky, Auburn is 13-7 all-time, while Tina Deese’s club is 2-0 against Florida International and 1-1 against Illinois State. Combined, Auburn is 17-11 all-time against its four first opponents.

No Need For A Backup ...
      Auburn had four players start at least 59 of the team’s 60 games at their respective positions last season, and it looks like it will be the same way this season. Senior Sara Dean spent all 60 games behind the plate. The Valencia, Calif., native has now started 148 games after playing a majority of her time in right field in 2003.
      Junior Ashley Griffin spent her first full season at shortstop in style, also starting every game at the position. Griffin is a bit behind Dean, having started her last 95 games, including some at third base in 2003.
      Newcomers Lolani Alvarez and Sara Ghezzi also made their marks in 2004. Ghezzi started all 60 games in right field en route to earning SEC All-Freshman honors. Alvarez, a junior college transfer, saw time in 59 games, starting the last 52 straight.
Each of the four is penciled in as the team’s opening day starter at their respective position and should see most, if not all, of the playing time there this season.