Auburn Softball Preview: Tigers Host UAB In Non-Conference Tilt
Auburn vs. UAB
February 16, 2005 * 6 p.m. CT * Jane B. Moore Field
Game Notes | Live Audio
Auburn Takes On UAB, Then Hosts The War Eagle Classic
Auburn hosts UAB Wednesday to open the week, then hosts the War Eagle Classic Feb. 18-20. The Tigers will take on Austin Peay, Boston College, Gardner-Webb and Birmingham-Southern in the three-day tournament. Auburn will face off against Boston College and Gardner-Webb for the first time in its nine-year history.
Tigers Roll Over Alabama State, Take Tiger Invite Title
Holly Currie set an SEC record with 10 runs batted in and threw the first perfect game in Auburn history in two separate games last week as the Tigers went 5-1 at Jane B. Moore Field. Auburn defeated Marshall, 8-0, in five innings Sunday to claim the Tiger Invitational title.
Auburn pitcher Holly Currie had an incredible week, throwing Auburn's first ever perfect game while setting a Southeastern Conference record with 10 runs batted in.
Currie began her week by going 4-for-4 with two home runs, two doubles and 10 RBI against Alabama State. The 10 RBI was just one off tying the NCAA record, last equaled in 2003. The Pisgah, Ala., native hit one home run and one double in the first inning against the Hornets, posting six RBI in the frame. That alone tied the Auburn single-game record, set by Mary Petrie in 1999 against Florida.
Think that was all? Not even close. Currie, two days later, became the first pitcher in the history of Auburn softball, and eighth in the SEC, to throw a perfect game as the Tigers shut out the College of Charleston, 9-0. Currie struck out a career-high 13 in the victory, just four off tying Auburn's single-game high, set twice last season by Kristen Keyes. Currie, not surprisingly, was named the Most Valuable Pitcher of the Tiger Invitational after going 2-1 with one save and 31 strikeouts in 20 innings of work.
That's M-V-P To You And Me
Paige Jones took her bat and ran with it at the Tiger Invitational, going 8-for-13 with one home run and four runs batted in over five games. That effort earned her Most Valuable Player honors, just a season after being named to the SEC All-Tournament team. Jones went 9-for-14 last week, including a 1-for-1 effort in the Tigers' 19-2 victory over Alabama State on Feb. 9.
Auburn hosts the War Eagle Classic this weekend for the first time since 2000. The Classic debuted that season with the Tigers going 2-3 in five games. Auburn defeated Indiana and South Carolina, but fell to Michigan, South Florida and Kent State.
No. 15 Gets Two More
Beth DiPietro turned in an almost scoreless performance at the Tiger Invitational, working 10 innings to accumulate a 2-0 record. She struck out 11, while walking just one in that span. DiPietro did give up a run against the College of Charleston, but it did not count against her earned run average due to a fielding error. DiPietro was honored at the conclusion of the tournament with inclusion on its All-Tournament team.
Dorothy Was Right, There Really Is No Place Like Home
Auburn really loves its home stadium, Jane B. Moore Field, and that was shown last week. The Tigers went 5-1 in six games at their home turf to start the season.
Auburn batted .313 with five home runs, 10 doubles and 39 runs batted over six games. Auburn was also nearly perfect on the basepaths, taking
13 of the 15 stolen bases attempted.
Tiger hurlers were also dead on. Beth DiPietro, Holly Currie and Brittany Day combined to go 35 innings, allowing 19 hits and five runs while striking out 47 and walking just five. The team's combined ERA at Jane B. Moore Field is 0.80.
In nine seasons, the Auburn softball team is 109-87-1 (.553 winning
percentage) in home games.
On The Road Again
After hosting UAB and the War Eagle Classic this week, the Tigers hit the road for more than two weeks. Auburn travels to Stanford, Calif., to participate in the Stanford Invitational from Feb. 25-27. The Tigers will take on Sacramento State, Texas Tech, UC Davis, Stanford and UAB.
Auburn is a combined 6-3 all-time against the five clubs, while the Tigers will play Texas Tech and UC Davis for the first time.
After coming back from the West Coast, the Tigers visit Troy for a non-conference tilt, then go to Atlanta, where they will play in the Buzz Classic, hosted by Georgia Tech. Opponents in that tournament include Middle Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Iowa. Finally, Auburn will take on Samford in Birmingham on March 9 before hosting Arkansas March 12-13 to open up SEC play.
Back On The Scoresheet
Ashley Griffin was named to the Tiger Invitational All-Tournament team after going 5-for-11 with two doubles and three runs batted in over five games. Griffin, who had a five-game hitting streak snapped against Marshall in the tournament championship, also stole three bases and was hit by a pitch twice.
Speed Kills, Oh Yeah
Opposing catchers don't seem to stand a chance when the Tigers get on base. Auburn has been successful on 20-of-24 steal attempts this season, including 13-of-15 at home. Ashley Griffin leads the pack with a perfect
4-for-4 mark, trailed closely by Robin Martin and Kristina McCain, who are both 3-for-4 this season.
Conversely, Auburn's Sara Dean, who has two stolen bases of her own, has been killer against opponents. The catcher has thrown out 4-of-8 stolen base attempts she has faced.
Clearing A Path At The Top
A number of Auburn players sit at or near the top of a number of Southeastern Conference offensive categories. Holly Currie is first with
16 runs batted in, and is tied for third with four home runs. She is also close in total bases, just five away from the top with 27. Sara Dean is third with 10 runs scored, while Lolani Alvarez has been hit by five pitches, tops in the conference.
On the pitching end of things, Currie's name again graces the top 10 lists. As of Feb. 14, the Pisgah, Ala., native is first in innings thrown (40), first in appearances (eight), tied for second in strikeouts (50), tied for fourth in opponent's batting average (.114) and fourth in wins with four.
Auburn's 19 runs scored against Alabama State is a season-high in the SEC, as is the Tigers' five hit by pitches against the Hornets.
That's No. 500
Auburn head coach Tina Deese made it 500 games at the helm of the Tiger program over the weekend at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic. Deese, the only coach in the history of the program, coached her historic 500th game Sunday against Florida International.
The Tigers came up on the short end against the Golden Panthers, 4-0, but that does nothing to diminish Deese's feat. Deese is only SEC head coach to remain with her club since its inception. In nine seasons with the Tigers, she has posted a 252-248-1 record and is 538-371-1 in 17 seasons overall. She previously served as the head coach at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.
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.
That's A First For Walton
Sophomore Lauren Walton made quite the impact at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic. The left fielder drove in her first career run against South Florida, then went 3-for-3 in Auburn's 6-1 victory over Florida International on Feb. 5. That marked a career-high performance for the Palmetto, Fla., native who saw her parents in the stands at FIU.
Currie, Dean, Ghezzi Earn All-Tournament Honors
For their performances at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic, Holly Currie, Sara Dean and Sara Ghezzi earned All-Tournament honors to represent the Tigers.
Currie finished the three-day tournament by making four appearances from the circle, going 2-1 with a 0.35 ERA, 19 strikeouts and just one earned run alllowed. She also batted .462 from the plate with a home run and four RBI.
Dean, meanwhile, batted .333 with a home run and five RBI, while Ghezzi, a junior from Miami, batted .364 with two RBI and four walks.
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 got an early look at a ranked opponent when the Tigers played South Florida at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic. The Bulls were ranked 22nd in the 2005 preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll, but fell to Auburn, 6-4. Stanford, meanwhile, one of Auburn's opponents in late February at the Stanford Invitational, is ranked fifth in the preseason poll.
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.
Tigers And Academics
Setting a standard for excellence in the classroom, Auburn was honored with six selections to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll in the Spring. Those selections include: Lindsey Chitwood (Zoology), Sara Dean (Human Development/Family Studies), Jennifer Diaz (Accounting), Cami Fenn (Marketing), Paige Jones (Biomedical Studies) and Martha Phillips (Zoology). In eight seasons, the Auburn softball team has earned 35 selections to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.