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Time for Auburn softball: Tigers hope to remain a hit
Feb. 3, 2015

Kasey Cooper and Auburn looking for more success this season

 Auburn Softball vs. Troy
 Matchup  No. 19/20 Auburn (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Troy (0-0, 0-0 SBC) | Auburn Game Notes
 Dates & Times  Thursday, Feb. 4, 2015 | 6 p.m. CST
 Location  Jane B. Moore Field (1,500) | Directions
 Tickets  Auburn Tiger Ticket Office
 Broadcasts  SEC Network+ | Play-by-Play: Brit Bowen; Color Commentary: Jessi Duval
 Online  Live Video | Live StatsTwitter: @Auburn_Softball

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Clint Myers says he's not going to jinx anything when he says he can take Auburn softball to the College World Series this season.

Win a national title? Why not?

"We're not superstitious. We'll talk about it," says Auburn's softball coach who knows of what he speaks. He won two national titles at Arizona State, took five other those teams to the College World Series, won six junior college softball national titles and won more than 400 games as junior college baseball coach. He figures Auburn can be in the hunt in his second year at Auburn for something big, and the Tigers will begin that journey at 6 p.m. Thursday against Troy at home.

Myers found success at Auburn last season by stressing fundamentals, by winning 42 games and making an NCAA regional final.

"It showed us good we were and how good we could be," said infielder Kasey Cooper.

Auburn led the nation in defense last season, but Myers, a stickler for detail, still talks of the few balls that got away.

"You get, from the product that you put out there on the field, what you deserve," he said.

Auburn returns its biggest hitters, including its new single-season leaders in home runs and RBIs, its top starting pitchers and will welcome some immediate help in new players.

It will also boast something new in one of the biggest  get ready  video boards in college softball. Myers, the visionary, is also stressing an even bigger family environment with an area for kids to play their own games.

Auburn softball was new last year with Myers, or at least he said everybody was a freshman back then, even the coaches. Year Two puts Auburn farther along on the learning curve.

"Last year, we had to go really, really slow, because we had to teach everything. Our process now is a lot faster, more accelerated, and the new ones are learning at a faster rate, because they have people out there that are constantly talking to them and showing them," Myers said. "Next year, it'll even be better, because they'll have two years under their belt.

"It's a simple philosophy, it's just a little bit complex to understand with kids that have never had or experienced what we do. Once they've experienced it, the understanding becomes a lot easier. The goal at the end of this year, and we're a lot closer now than when we started, you look on the field, you won't be able to tell who the freshmen are. By the time the playoffs come, 32 weeks of practice, they'll have a good understanding of what's going on and how to react."
Myers first Auburn team won 12 more games than the previous Auburn team. But Myers said that wasn't a surprise because, well, he expects to win.

"I think that what we were able to accomplish was a good foundation, and we've had success in the past," he said. "We believe that because we teach so much, and you're at a high academic school, so you figure that the learning curve is going to be there. Those kids didn't disappoint. We expected them to learn and grow, and they did a good job with it, so the expectations when we go out there are going to be the same for the first day and the first year, and every first day and every year forward.

"I don't think that it was a surprise. I will say, I was pleased."
Auburn mixed the nation's best defense with some big-time hitting last season, and the power bats and the entire infield returns. Cooper was named national co-freshman of the year after hitting a team-high .418 average with a school-record 18 home runs and 77 RBIs while playing third base. Emily Carosone hit .392 at second base, defensive-minded Kelsey Bogaards handled shortstop and Jade Rhodes is a returning first baseman.

Outfielder Branndi Melero is back after setting a school record with 78 RBIs last season, the second-highest total in the nation. Morgan Estell returns to the outfield after hitting .362 as does Tiffany Howard, who hit .277.
Six players are vying to play catcher.

Lexi Davis and Marcy Harper return as starting pitchers.

"We think the product on the field is going to be something really good, and we're hoping it gets to the point where if you don't have a season ticket, you're probably not going to be able have a seat," Myers said. "We're not there yet, but we're moving in that direction."

You can see it on the new video board.

"Our plan is to put a playground underneath the trees so the kids can come and make it into a family environment. There's a grass area that they'll be able to play catch, baseball, softball, football. Let the little ones play on jungle gyms and teeter-totters. We have some exciting plans."

Melero welcomes it this season, and for Auburn beyond. 

"It's awesome the girls will get new things, new buildings, new scoreboard to move on and to come to the field and say, 'This is my field, look how beautiful it is, and show it off to the world.'"

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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