Feb. 13, 2006
Auburn-Georgia State Notes
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No. 20/17 Auburn (4-1) at Georgia State (1-0)
February 14, 2006 Atlanta, Ga. 5 p.m. EST
Live Stats: None
Tigers Head To Atlanta ... Auburn heads to Atlanta for a non-conference tilt with Georgia State. The Tigers, 4-1 on the season, are coming off a weekend in which the team's offense dominated at the Tiger Invitational.
Georgia State holds the all-time lead in the series, 3-2, although the teams have met just once since 1999. That was a 4-2 victory last season for the Tigers at Jane B. Moore Field.
After the game, Auburn returns home to play in the War Eagle Classic, Feb. 17-19 at Jane B. Moore Field. Mercer, Middle Tennessee, Jacksonville State, Furman and Lipscomb will take part in the three-day tournament.
Last Weekend ... Auburn finished the Tiger Invitational 4-1, winning its first four games before bowing to Centenary, 9-6, on Sunday. The Tigers posted 10 or more hits in four of five games, and scored double-figure runs in two games.
Auburn pitchers limited opponents to less than four runs per game and posted two shutouts. Juniors Holly Currie and Beth DiPietro both went 2-0 over the weekend.
Auburn improved to 32-5 all-time at the Tiger Invitational.
News and Notes ...
Auburn head coach Tina Deese won her 300th game against Miami (Ohio) on Feb. 10. The Tigers won the game, 15-1, in five innings and made Deese just the third active SEC coach to win 300 or more games with their current teams. She now needs 12 victories for 600 in her career.
Freshman Taryn Gray has started off her Auburn career with a bang. The Vestavia Hills, Ala., native is on a five game hit streak after going 12 for 21 (.571) with three doubles and a triple at the Tiger Invitational. She was named the tournament's MVP.
Holly Currie finished with two multiple-hit games over the weekend and now has 32 for her career.
Ashley Griffin extended her consecutive starts streak to 168 games. Sara Ghezzi, meanwhile, saw hers snapped at 129 after sitting to start the game against Miami (Ohio).
Holly Currie was named the Most Valuable Pitcher of the Tiger Invitational after going 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA. Tatiana Fernandez was named to the All-Tournament Team as well.
Barts Goes Deep ... Auburn outfielder Krista Barts hit her first home run in her third career at bat Friday against Miami (Ohio). The senior had previously batted four times overall -- two at bats and two hit by pitches -- in her first two seasons with the Tigers.
4-0 Again ... Auburn won its first four games of its season for the fifth time in 10 seasons, but failed to make it 5-0 after losing to Centenary, 9-6. The Tigers' best start to a season came in 2002 when they went 9-0.
The Offense Didn't Mind The Cold ... Auburn's offense braved the near-freezing temperatures over the weekend at the Tiger Invitational and came out smelling like a rose. The Tigers batted .401 with 11 doubles, two triples and six home runs in five games. Auburn posted a .626 slugging percentage and .480 on-base percentage.
Auburn Freshmen Start Strong ... Auburn's freshmen began their careers off hot at the Tiger Invitational, as Taryn Gray, Tatiana Fernandez, Myesha Finney and Ashley Arcuri batted a combined .500 (23 for 46) with six doubles, two triples and nine runs batted in. Gray and Fernandez had seven multiple-hit games between them.
A Big Time First ... Auburn opened the season ranked 17th in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Preseason Poll and 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. It marks the first time in Auburn's history that the Tigers have opened the season ranked in the top 25 of either poll.
The rankings continue the success the Tigers had last season. Auburn finished the year ranked 20th in the NFCA Top 25 and 22nd by USA Softball.
Who Returns ... Auburn returns 13 letterwinners and six starters from last season's team that finished 50-18 overall. Junior Holly Currie headlines the list of returners after driving in a program-record 65 runs last season. The Pisgah, Ala., native also tied a team-record with 17 home runs.
Auburn returns its starting left side of the infield from last season. Senior Ashley Griffin (shortstop) and junior Kristina McCain (third base) anchor the infield after combining for 111 runs scored last season.
The team's entire starting outfield returns. Senior Amy Shaw patrols center field while the corner spots will be patrolled by a pair of juniors -- right fielder and 2005 All-SEC First-Team member Sara Ghezzi and left fielder Lauren Walton.
Junior Beth DiPietro teams with Currie to form a dangerous 1-2 pitching punch.
Yet Another Second Place Vote ... Southeastern Conference coaches selected the Tigers to finish second in the West. Auburn received 48 votes, tying the team with LSU. Both Auburn and LSU earned two first-place votes. Alabama, which won the conference a year ago, received 57 points (seven first-place votes) and was chosen to win the West.
Tennessee was selected as the team to beat in the East, garnering nine first-place votes and 49 points. Georgia and Florida finished No. 2 and 3, respectively, with each earning one first-place vote.
In both 2004 and 2005, the Tigers were chosen to finish fourth by the conference coaches. However, in both seasons, the Tigers silenced their critics within the conference, finishing second in the West both years.
Returning Round-Trippers ... Auburn hit a team-record 68 home runs last season, which not only obliterated the team's previous best of 48, but also marked the second-most in Southeastern Conference history. It trails only Alabama, which hit 73 in 1998.
The key figure for the Tigers of that 68 is 35. That's the number of home runs hit by the team's returners. Last season's seniors, Sara Dean, Paige Jones, Anne Norton and Lolani Alvarez, combined for 33 of the team's 68 home runs.
Holly Currie's 17 home runs accounts for almost half of the team's returning home runs from a year ago. Ashley Griffin and Kristina McCain both hit six home runs apiece while Sara Ghezzi accounted for four. Amy Shaw and Nicole Russo each had one apiece.
More Than 50, 21 Is The Next Step ... Auburn has increased its win totals in both overall and conference play in the last three seasons. In 2003, the Tigers finished 26-31 overall and 13-16 in SEC play. In 2004, those numbers jumped to 42-18 and 19-10, respectively. Finally, the 2005 team continued the trend by going 50-18 overall and 21-8 in SEC play. Those 50 wins coincidentally tied the Auburn school record for most wins by any team in any sport.
Deese ... Auburn head coach Tina Deese enters her 10th season at the helm of the Tigers and is the only coach in the SEC to remain with their team since its inaugural season.
South Carolina's Joyce Compton is the dean of SEC coaches and is entering her 20th season with the Gamecocks. Deese is No. 2 at 10 seasons, followed by Alabama's Patrick Murphy, who is entering his eighth year with the Crimson Tide.
Record Setter ... Holly Currie took a personal tour through the Auburn record books, setting the Auburn and SEC single-game record with 10 RBI against Alabama State on Feb. 9. Currie also tied a team-record with 12 total bases in the game. Mary Petrie had previously set the record against Tennessee on April 21, 2001.
Miss Softball ... Auburn head coach Tina Deese has recruited well in the state of Alabama as the Tigers have two Miss Alabama Softballs on the team -- Holly Currie and Tara Donaldson -- and will have a third on the way next season in Anna Thompson.
Currie won the title in 2003 as a senior at Pisgah High School. Donaldson, a newcomer to the club this season, earned the honor last season as a senior at Baker High School in Mobile.
Dominating At Home ... Auburn loves its home stadium, Jane B. Moore Field, and it shows. The Tigers are 115-73 at home since the stadium opened in 1998, including a 49-11 mark over the past three seasons.
Score Some Runs, Get A Win ... Auburn's penchant for scoring runs in bunches has paid off for the Tigers as the team's pitching and defense have been able to hold on to leads.
Since 2001, the Tigers are 73-3 when scoring anywhere from six to nine runs. Better yet, when scoring in double figures, the Tigers are 26-0. By the same token, if Auburn is able to hold teams to two runs or less in a game, the Tigers usually win. Auburn is 154-19 the past five seasons when accomplishing the feat.
Two Great Seasons ... From 2004-05, Auburn went a combined 92-36 under head coach Tina Deese. For Deese, it is the second-best two-season mark in her now 18 years as a collegiate head coach. From 1993-94, Deese took Huntingdon College (Montgomery, Ala.) to two straight dominating years. She was 96-27 from 1993-94.
SEC Tournament ... For the first time in the conference's history, the SEC Tournament will go to a single-game elimination format for the 2006 season. The tournament, which will be held from May 11-13 in Athens, Ga., will feature the top eight teams from the regular season.
Four games will be played on the tournament's first day, Thursday, followed by two on Friday with the championship game that Saturday. Selections for the 64-team NCAA Regional field will follow that Sunday, May 14.
On The Watch List ... On February 1, junior Holly Currie was named to the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List. The pitcher/designated player returns after batting .394 with a team-record 65 RBI and team-tying 17 home runs last season. She also finished the 2005 season with a 24-11 record and 1.95 ERA with 250 strikeouts.
The Watch List will be paired to 25 finalists on April 5. A player does not have to be on the watch list to be able to make the cut of 25. The list of 25 will dwindle to 10 on May 10, followed by three on May 31.
The 2006 recipient will be announced during the Women's College World Series in June.
Ashley Griffin ... Ashley Griffin has not missed an Auburn game since Feb. 23, when the Tigers defeated Alabama A&M, 12-1, at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Macon, Ga. She started the final 35 games of the 2003 season, and coupled with the 2004 and 2005 seasons, has now started 168 consecutive.
Sara Dean holds the Auburn record with 216 straight starts. Griffin needs 48 straight starts to tie Dean.
Of course, once Griffin graduates after this season, there's another player in line to attempt to break that streak. Junior Sara Ghezzi has started every game since coming to the Tigers in 2004 -- 128 straight.
About The Auburn Assistants ... Auburn assistant coaches Jack Byerley and Ashley Moore are both heading into their second seasons with the Tigers. Both Byerley and Moore paid off in dividends for the Tigers last season as Auburn set a program-record with 50 victories and set a number of school offensive records.
Byerley came to Auburn from Francis Marion University in South Carolina, where he was the team's head coach for two seasons. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Florida for two years. Byerley's first job at the college ranks began in 1996, when he took over head coaching duties at Central Alabama Community College until 2000. Lastly, Byerley led the softball program at Robertsdale (Ala.) High School from 1989-96.
Even though she is in her second season at Auburn, Moore has a long history with the Tigers. She came to Auburn as centerfielder in 1999. She ended her career with the Tigers as the program's all-time leader in runs (171), hits (261), doubles (58) and total bases (445). After her playing career, Moore spent a season as a graduate assistant at South Carolina and two seasons with the New England RipTide of National Pro Fastpitch.
Coming Next Season ... Auburn head coach Tina Deese announced the signings of three future Tigers for the 2007 season. They include Garden Grove, Calif.'s Krista Klein, Ramer, Ala.'s Whitney Wyatt and Huntsville's Anna Thompson. They are set to join the team next season.
Thompson headlines the group as she is one of the most celebrated players in Alabama history. Entering her senior season, she stands second in the state's history for most strikeouts. Her 1,618 punchouts trails only current Tiger Holly Currie, who had 1,730 strikeouts for Pisgah High School.
Thompson plays for Grissom High School and has been named The Huntsville Times All-Metro Pitcher of the Year three straight seasons.
Auburn Radio, Video ... Nathan Ealy and Ben Taylor will again be behind the mic for Auburn softball broadcasts, as selected games can be heard on www.auburntigers.com and WZMG-AM (910). The Tigers will be featured on WZMG for all but seven games this season (Georgia State, UAB, Southern Miss. and Florida Atlantic Tournament will not be broadcast).
Pre-game radio shows begin 15 minutes before first pitch.
Ealy and Taylor are in their second seasons with Tiger softball. Ealy served as the voice of Auburn soccer this past season and also assists on baseball broadcasts. He is the studio host for Auburn basketball games and provides features for the Auburn Football Preview Show.
Taylor has previously served as the play-by-play broadcaster for Auburn volleyball. He has also served as public address announcer for Auburn soccer, baseball, men's basketball and softball.
Additionally, the Tigers announced that 21 home games will be broadcast live on the Internet this season via streaming video. Games can be watched online at www.auburntigers.com.