By Jeff Shearer
“Me and Mak are going to take on about half and half,” Carlson said. “That’s basically what it was this weekend.”
Carlson and Martin each started two games in Auburn’s season-opening four-game road trip to Mexico. Martin threw 15.1 innings. Carlson pitched 15.2. Their combined earned run average is 1.13. Carlson went 1-0. Martin was 2-1.
In Auburn’s win over No. 1 Oklahoma, Martin earned the victory, Carlson the save.
“Starting off with a run first, that takes a lot of pressure off me,” said Martin of the Tigers’ 3-2 win. “Two homeruns. I was feeling good. It was just a great game.”
With so many new faces in the lineup, Auburn’s hitters batted .194 in Mexico. Pressure on the pitchers to carry the load until the bats warm up? Depends which one you ask.
“Oh, of course,” Martin said. “Definitely. (Associate Head Coach) Corey (Myers) said from the beginning that me and Kaylee are really going to have to step up and lead this team. We showed that last weekend that we can do that. We’re fine with it.”
“I wouldn’t say we feel pressure,” Carlson said. “They just need to get comfortable. I think that’s what it is. We have a lot of new people. So I think once they start settling in, maybe playing at home will help with that, too.”
Auburn plays its home opener Thursday at 6 p.m. against SIUE, the first of 21 consecutive games at Jane B. Moore Field.
“Once they start executing better, I guess it will take pressure off us, but we’re still going to do the same thing that we’ve been doing,” Carlson said. “Last year, opening game was our first (home) game. Now, we already have a couple games under our belt, so now we’re just excited to play for our fans.”
Both ace pitchers, who came to the Plains from southern California, admire the other’s go-to pitch.
“Her changeup,” Martin said. “She has a really good changeup. I try to imitate her changeup. Her composure. She has presence. And that’s what you’ve got to have when you’re a pitcher. I really admire that. She attacks every batter.”
“Her drop ball is so effortless for her,” Carlson said. “I wish that I had a drop ball like that, where I could get batters out. They swing and miss by that much (holding hands several inches apart). And the way she stays calm, too. Because no matter what, she’s just going out there and she’s just pitching. She’s not worrying about the stuff she can’t control.”
Kaylee, a junior, and Makayla, a sophomore, hope their friendly competition will help Auburn return to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series.
“Of course, we want to try to be better,” Martin said. “If I’m getting better, she’s getting better, because she’s trying to build off of what I’m doing. It’s a good competition.”
“I guess it’s a competition, because we both want to pitch,” Carlson said. “But whenever she’s out there, I want her to do well. Because what it comes down to, it’s for the team. It’s not based on individuals.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer