Auburn Softball Opens Home Schedule With Tiger Invitational
Feburary 6, 2003
Auburn, Ala.— The Auburn softball team opens its 2003 home schedule by hosting the Tiger Invitational, Feb. 7-9, at Jane B. Moore Field. The tournament field also includes Mercer University, the University of Missouri and UT-Chattanooga.
Games begin at 11 a.m. on Friday with Auburn first playing against Mercer at 4 p.m. The Tigers are 6-0 all-time against the Bears after facing them four times last season, however this will be the first meeting for Auburn against UT-Chattanooga or Missouri.
“We played Mercer four times last year,” said head coach Tina Deese. “They’re a good, solid defensive team. They’ve got a couple of players that can hurt you at the plate in (Stacy) Nagel and (Nikki) Bowey. They’ve got some pretty solid pitching with a couple of young players that are throwing for them now that we haven’t had a chance to see.”
The Tigers will face the UT-Chattanooga Mocs at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and then square off with the Missouri Tigers at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The tournament will be the season opener for both Missouri and UT-Chattanooga, while Mercer enters with a record of 3-1. Missouri finished last season with a record of 29-33, while the Mocs finished 44-15, went to the NCAA Tournament and were ranked No. 27 in the final USA Today/NFCA poll.
“UT-Chattanooga, we know is a really scrappy team,” said Deese. “They’re going to hit, they’re going to run, they’re going to be quick, they’re going play a very physical game. We got to see that last year. The pitcher that we saw them throw last year is not returning, so they’ve got a couple of freshmen coming up that we’ve seen on the recruiting trail, and they’re solid, but they’ll be facing 43 feet for the first time. Missouri, they’re middle of the pack in the Big 12, so they’ve got to be strong. They’re going to be adjusting to a new coach, so I think they’re going to be excited about their opportunity to play. I think they’re going to be a strong team, and probably the team to beat.”
The Tigers opened the season with a seven-game road trip, beginning with five games at the USF-Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tampa, Fla., and ending with a doubleheader against ninth-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. Auburn finished 2-3 in Tampa with wins over Florida Atlantic and Sam Houston State and loses to Northwestern, second-ranked Arizona and South Florida. The team then lost both games versus Florida State to complete the trip 2-5.
“I think physically we’re still a little bit tired trying to get all of our student activities done,” said Deese. “I think (the players) are eager to play on our home field and they’re doing their best to put this weekend behind them, understanding that we did play some good competition and that our day is coming. We’re better than what we’ve shown this weekend. We’ve made adjustments defensively that hopefully will help, and we need to continue to work on solidifying our defense, so that we can really concentrate on our offensive game. I think all in all, the attitude is good. Most of the players that I’ve talked to understand the strength of schedule and that it’s only going to make us better.”
The Tigers were without returning-leading hitter Kasey Angulo during the trip and she is considered doubtful for Friday’s games. Below is a complete tournament schedule:
FRIDAY, FEB. 7
Game 1 11:00 a.m. Mercer vs. Missouri
Game 2 1:30 p.m. Missouri vs. UT-Chattanooga
Game 3 4:00 p.m. Mercer vs. Auburn
Game 4 6:30 p.m. Auburn vs. UT-Chattanooga
SATURDAY, FEB. 8
Game 5 11:00 a.m. UT-Chattanooga vs. Mercer
Game 6 1:30 p.m. Auburn vs. Missouri
Game 7 4:00 p.m. Seed 1 vs. Seed 4
Game 8 6:30 p.m. Seed 2 vs. Seed 3
SUNDAY, FEB. 9
Game 10 11:00 a.m. Consolation Game
(Losers of Games 7 and 8)
Game 11 1:30 p.m. Championship Game
(Winners of Games 7 and 8)