Softball at Campbell/Carter Classic Tournament Preview
Auburn at Campbell/Carter Classic
Feb. 20-22 - San Diego, Calif. - SDSU (800)
Quoting Auburn Head Softball Coach Tina Deese
On taking a step up in competition
"We know we are about to face some tough competition. I think we're ready to step it up though. It will be good for the players to step out on the field against teams like we're going to see. The big difference between what we've already seen and what we'll see this weekend will be in aggressiveness and discipline. But I think we're ready to step up and the team is looking forward to the opportunity."
On playing with a young team against highly ranked opponents
"We've got 14 games under our belt, so our young players have seen a lot so far. In the case of most of our young players, they have played against this level of competition in summer ball. They have faced a lot of the girls we see this weekend. But, it should still be a little bit of a new experience for each of them. I'm interested to see how the team will work together with the step up that we have to take."
On the best start in school history
"We've had some good teams in the past, but the difference in this team is that we have good depth at pitching, a good solid defense and our hitting. If we can continue to hit the way we are at this point, that can make all the difference. There have been years when we've had good pitching and no hitting and years where we've had a ton of hitting and no pitching. This year * we say this early in the year * we think we have everything we need to be a good team."
Campbell/Cartier Classic (hosted by San Diego State) Tournament Notes
Dates/Times: Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. CT
Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. CT
Feb. 22 at 11 a.m. CT
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Stadium: SDSU Field (800)
Series: 0-2 vs. Washington, first meeting with all others
Record: 12-2 (0-0 SEC)
Ranking: RV (t37th) ESPN.com/USA Softball
NR NFCA/USA Today
Last: def. UAB, 4-3, on Feb. 17 at Birmingham, Ala.
Coach: Tina Deese
Record: 504-353-1 (16th year)
at AU: 218-230-1 (8th year)
vs. Field: 0-2 vs. Washington, 0-0 vs. rest of field
Tigers Look to continue winning ways out west
The Auburn softball team is travelling all the way to the west coast this weekend to compete in the Campbell/Cartier Classic hosted by San Diego State. The Tigers are looking to build on their 12-2 start, which is tied for the best in school history. Awaiting Auburn and its seven-game win streak will be five west coast teams, including fourth-ranked Washington. Auburn opens with Cal State-Northridge and Sacramento State on Friday. It is Auburn's third trip to California having played in tournaments at Cal State-Fullerton and UC-Santa Barbara in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
Tigers Tie Best Start in School History
At 12-2, Auburn has tied the best start in school history. The 2002 squad also opened 12-2 en route to a 38-27 overall record. That year, the Tigers earned the only NCAA Tournament berth in school history. Auburn will look to top the mark on Friday when it faces Cal State-Northridge in San Diego.
Auburn also carries a seven-game win streak into the weekend. That streak is second longest in school history, trailing only the nine-game streak that opened the 2002 season.
Auburn Players Return Home
When Auburn plays in San Diego this weekend, it will mark a homecoming of sorts for a number of players. The Tigers' travel roster boasts three players from California and one from Arizona. Here is a look at the players who call California home and how close they will be to their hometown this weekend:
Player Hometown Distance to SDSU
Lolani Alvarez Cypress, Calif. 97 miles
Shannon Anderson Laguna Niguel, Calif. 70 miles
Lindsey Chitwood Chandler, Ariz. 371 miles
Sara Dean Valencia, Calif. 152 miles
Auburn vs. Ranked Teams
When Auburn faces off with No. 4 Washington on Saturday, it will mark the Tigers' first game against a ranked foe this season. Auburn is 14-82-1 all time against ranked opponents, including a 2-14 mark against top five foes.
The Tigers last beat a ranked team on March 29, 2003, when they defeated No. 15 South Carolina, 2-1. The last top five win came over No. 3 LSU, 2-1, on May 1, 2002.
Keyes Nears 500th career Strikeout
Kristen Keyes has been an intimidating presence in the circle since she arrived at Auburn. In her two years, she has amassed 472 career strikeouts in 443.2 innings. With 28 more Ks, she will become the first Auburn player to reach the 500 career strikeout plateau.
She already owns the Auburn career mark as she broke Denise Montalvo's record with her 342nd strikeout. So far this year, Keyes has struck out 65 batters in just 50.0 innings pitched. She is averaging 7.5 strikeouts per start and has a season high of 13 in a relief effort against UAB. She is striking out at least one batter in better than 67 percent of her innings pitched.
Keyes sets new Auburn Career Wins Mark
Senior Kristen Keyes broke the Auburn record for career wins on Feb. 13 when she earned the victory in Auburn's 7-0 win over Evansville. She entered the game in the fourth inning and pitched four scoreless innings to earn the victory.
Keyes also owns Auburn career marks for innings pitched, saves, strikeouts, earned-run average and batting average against.
Auburn wins Tiger Invitational
Auburn won its third consecutive Tiger Invitational championship by going 5-0 in the tournament that included Furman, Evansville and Austin Peay. The Tigers beat Evansville, 8-0, in the tournament final. Auburn won all three of its round robin games before knocking off Furman in the first round of braket play. The Tigers outscored their opponents 33-4 in the five games.
Deese gets 500th career win
Auburn head coach Tina Deese picked up her 500th career win on Feb. 13 when Auburn beat Austin Peay 6-2. Deese notched her first 286 wins at Huntingdon College in Montgomery before winning 214 at Auburn in her first seven-plus seasons. She is in her 16th year of coaching overall.
Currie Spells Double Trouble for Opponents
Freshman Holly Currie has proven to be a threat both in the circle and at the plate this year. The Pisgah, Ala., native is 3-0 with a 0.33 earned-run average in four starts. She has 27 strikeouts in 21 innings and is allowing opponents to bat just .114 off her.
At the plate, Currie has been on a tear, hitting .367 with three doubles and a pair of home runs. Her nine RBIs and .667 slugging percentage each rank third on the squad.
Freshmen are Key Contributors
This year's highly touted freshman class has not disappointed thus far in the young season. Five freshmen have started a combined 57 games this season while Lauren Walton and Sara Ghezzi have started all 14.
In the circle, Holly Currie and Beth DiPietro have combined to go 5-0 and earn two saves. The two are also hot at the plate with Currie is hitting .367 with two home runs and nine RBIs. DiPietro, who also plays in left field is batting .278 with a pair of doubles.
Third baseman Kristina McCain, who has started 12 games, and Walton are not far behind. McCain is hitting .273 while Walton is at a .261 clip. McCain had a team season high with four hits against Wichita State last weekend.
Keyes Nearly Perfect
Kristen Keyes entered the UAB game with only one batter retired in the first inning. After an errant pickoff play by the catcher allowed two runners to score while Keyes was facing her first batter, she was perfect. She retired all 20 batters she faced, 13 by strikeout. She now has pitched 6.2 consecutive perfect innings and has a scoreless streak of 11.2 innings.
Auburn has started the year by starting quickly on its opponents. The Tigers have scored in the first or second inning of 11 of 14 games so far, including seven times in the first inning. Baylor and Evansville are the only teams to keep Auburn from scoring before the fourth inning.
In the first three innings of games, the Tigers are outscoring their opponent 48-4.
No Hitting Tiger Pitching
Hitting Auburn's pitching this year is proving to be very tough for opponents. The Tigers have not allowed any team to get more than six hits in a game and have held 10 of 14 opponents to three or fewer hits. Auburn is allowing its opponents to hit just .138 so far led by Holly Currie's .114 clip.
Even when opponents do get that rare hit, it doesn't get them very far. Only 14 hits off Auburn pitchers have been for extra bases with none being home runs.
Dean Continues Hot Streak
Junior catcher Sara Dean exploded at the Getterman Classic at Baylor from Feb. 6-8 and she showed no signs of slowing down this past weekend. In Waco, she batted .500 with two doubles, three home runs and five RBIs. She also scored seven runs and her 18 total bases set a Getterman Classic record. This past week, she has batted .500 with three doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored while also stealing four bases.
On the season, the Valencia, Calif., native is hitting at a .474 clip with six doubles, three home runs and an .868 slugging percentage to go along with her five steals in five attempts. Perhaps most impressive is her seven walks to just one strikeout.
Eyes Of the Tigers
One key to Auburn's success this year at the plate has been patience. Tiger batters have drawn 48 walks compared to just 39 strikeouts. Sara Ghezzi and Sara Dean lead the way with 10 and seven walks, respectively. Dean's walk-to-strikeout ratio is currently sitting at an unheard of 7-to-1. The ability to draw a walk has translated into a .415 on-base percentage for Auburn.
Tigers Steal Bases, Opponents Get Caught
Auburn has become a prolific team on the base paths this season. So far, the Tigers have 35 stolen bases, which is two times more than anyone else in the Southeastern Conference. Seven players have at least three steals, led by Shannon Anderson's eight. Lauren Walton has six while Sara Dean has five.
On the opposite side, Auburn is also the best in the conference at throwing out potential base stealers. The Tigers have caught seven runners stealing, which is far and away the best mark in the league. Aubusn is the only team in the league that throws out better than 50 percent of base stealers (.583).
Dean Spectacular Behind The Plate
Coming into this season Sara Dean had only played catcher in four games. However, she has been spectacular defensively behind the plate. Dean has thrown out seven of 12 would be base stealers as well as picking off another. She has not allowed a passed ball yet and has only let one wild pitch get by her.
Auburn has been wildly successful at getting the leadoff runner on base this year. Through 13 games, the Tigers on-base percentage from the leadoff position is .459 (39-of-85). Beth DiPietro, Ashley Griffin and Sara Ghezzi have been particularly impressive as each is getting on at a .667 rate when leading off.
Anderson At It Again
Auburn career learder for stolen bases, Shannon Anderson, is already in midseason form. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native tied a school record by swiping three bases against Illinois State on Jan. 30. She has eight stolen bases so far this year after reaching base 10 times.
Anderson took over the Auburn career stolen base lead against LSU on April 26 last year by stealing her 38th base. In 2002, she stole 21 bases to set the school single-season record.
Magic Number Five
Auburn's magic number since the beginning of the 2003 season seems to be five. The Tigers are 34-13 since then when reaching five hits. Auburn was even better when scoring at least five runs. The Tigers hit the five-run plateau in 11 games in 2003 and won all 11. They have won all eight games this year when hitting five runs. The last time Auburn lost when scoring five runs was on April 27, 2002, when it fell to Kentucky, 8-5.
The Record Breaker
Freshman pitcher Holly Currie has had a knack for breaking records in her softball career. By scrolling through the Alabama High School Fastpitch Softball record book, you will find the Pisgah, Ala., native's name 49 times among the career and single season leaders. She holds eight Alabama high school single-season records and 12 career records.
Her records come both in the circle and at the plate. She owns career batting records for hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored and walks. She also ranks second in state history in triples and third in batting average. Her career pitching marks are for wins, innings, strikeouts, earned-run average, shutouts and no-hitters.
Currie's career RBI record came at the expense of current teammate Paige Jones. Currie also stopped Jones bid for the single-season RBI record in 2000 when she drove in 80 runs to Jones' 79. Two years later, Currie set a new mark of 85 RBI, which still stands.
On the Radar Gun
Auburn's 1-2 punch in the circle of Kristen Keyes and Holly Currie is a powerful one. Both hurlers are known for power pitching and can throw some serious heat. Keyes has been clocked at 66 miles per hour with her fastball while the freshman Currie can hit 68 mph. Those numbers are the equivalent to a baseball pitcher throwing 93 and 96 mph, respectively. Here is a look at how some softball pitch speeds translate to a baseball pitch:
Pitch Speed (43 ft.) Baseball Equivalent (60 ft. 6 in.)
Auburn's recruiting class for the 2004 season is the most highly decorated in school history. Among the group is one Miss Softball, two Gatorade State Players of the Year, four high school All-Americans and one college All-American. Two of the newcomers have also been featured in Sports Illustrated. Here is a list of newcomers and their major accolades:
Lolani Alvarez (transfer) Easton first-team All-America
Co-MVP of Orange Empire Conference
Holly Currie Miss Softball of Alabama
Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year
featured in Sports Illustrated (9/1/03)
Beth DiPietro Florida Gatorade Player of the Year
FHSAA State Player of the Year
Student Sports first-team All-America
two-time Miss Softball of Florida runner up
featured in Sports Illustrated (3/18/02)
Sara Ghezzi NFCA second-team All-America
NFCA first-team All-South Region
Lauren Walton NFCA second-team All-America
NFCA first-team All-South Region (2003)
NFCA second-team All-South Region (2002)
Auburn's 2004 schedule will be no picnic. The Tigers slate includes six teams that rank in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll. It also has four teams that are receiving votes in the poll.
The schedule features 11 teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2004 including Women's College World Series participants Alabama and Washington. The SEC slate will feature six series against teams that made an NCAA Regional in 2004.