Auburn Softball Preview: Tigers Host Three-Day War Eagle Classic

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Auburn Softball Preview: Tigers Host Three-Day War Eagle Classic

Feb. 18, 19, 20
 Jane B. Moore Field
* Auburn, Ala.

Game Notes l Listen Live l Live Stats

Tournament Schedule:
Feb. 18
10 a.m.: Auburn vs. Gardner-Webb
12:30 p.m.: Auburn vs. Boston College
12:30 p.m.: Birmingham-Southern vs. Austin Peay* 3:30 p.m.: Austin Peay vs. Boston College
6 p.m.: Gardner-Webb vs. Birmingham-Southern

Feb. 19
10 a.m.: Boston College vs. Birmingham-Southern 12:30 p.m.: Austin Peay vs. Auburn 12:30 p.m.: Boston College vs. Gardner-Webb* 3:30 p.m.: Gardner-Webb vs. Austin Peay
6 p.m.: Seed 4 vs. Seed 5
8 p.m.: Seed 2 vs. Seed 3

Feb. 20 11 a.m.: Seed 1 vs. winner of Seed 4/5 game 1:30 p.m.: Championship game
* Indicates game will be played at the Auburn Softball Complex

Auburn Hosts The War Eagle Classic
The Tigers host the War Eagle Classic this weekend for just the second time in the nine-year history of the program. Boston College, Gardner-Webb, Birmingham-Southern and Austin Peay will head to the Plains to take part in the three-day tournament.

Auburn Scores In Every Inning, Defeats UAB, 14-0 Kristina McCain went 4-for-4 as Auburn rolled to a 14-0 five-inning victory over UAB Wednesday at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers, who are now 6-2 all-time against their in-state rival, scored three runs in the first, four more in the second and third innings each, then three again in the fourth to clinch the shortened game. McCain's effort proved to be a career-high. The sophomore hit one double, drove in a run and stole two bases. Lolani Alvarez hit her first career home run and Ashley Griffin went 3-for-4 with her first home run of the season.

Waaaaarrrrr Eagle
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.

Perfect, Period
Auburn pitcher Holly Currie had an incredible week (Feb. 9 to 13), 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.

No. 15 Gets Three More
Beth DiPietro is on a three-game winning streak after throwing five scoreless innings in Auburn's 14-0 victory over UAB Wednesday. The sophomore is 3-0 at Jane B. Moore Field this season after going 2-0 with one run -- unearned -- allowed at the Tiger Invitational.

Dorothy Was Right, There Really Is No Place Like Home Auburn really loves its home stadium, Jane B. Moore Field, and that has been shown early this season. The Tigers are 6-1 in seven games at their home turf to start the season.

Auburn is batting .346 with seven home runs, 13 doubles and 49 runs batted in over seven games. Auburn is also nearly perfect on the basepaths, taking 17 of 19 stolen bases attempted.
Tiger hurlers have also been dead on. Beth DiPietro, Holly Currie and Brittany Day have combined to go 40 innings, allowing 21 hits and five runs while striking out 63 and walking just seven. The team's combined ERA at Jane B. Moore Field is 0.70.

In nine seasons, the Auburn softball team is 110-87-1 (.555 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 Track
Ashley Griffin has been on a tear as of late. The junior went 3-fior-4 with three runs scored and one RBI against UAB. Griffin has hit safely in six of her last seven games, going 9-for-17 (.529 batting average) with one home run, three doubles, four RBI and seven runs scored over that span. Griffin has also stolen three bases in her last seven games.

The hot hitting streak has coincided with Auburn's return to Jane B. Moore Field.

Speed Kills, Oh Yeah
Opposing catchers don't seem to stand a chance when the Tigers get on base. Auburn has been successful on 24-of-28 steal attempts this season, including 13-of-15 at home. Kristina McCain leads the pack with a perfect 6-for-6 mark, trailed closely by Ashley Griffin, who has successfully swiped four bases 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-9 stolen base attempts she has faced.

Welcome Back
After not seeing time at the Tiger Invitational, Kristina McCain came back strong against UAB, going 4-for-4 with four runs scored and one run batted in. McCain started at third base for the seventh time this season, and with Ashley Griffin at the top of the batting order, batted in the No. 2 slot for the first time. McCain has seen action in two games at Jane B. Moore Field, going 5-for-8 with two doubles and three RBI.

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 as of Feb. 13. 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.

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.