March 6, 2014
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn softball isn't trying to hit home runs. The Tigers just can't help it. They're way ahead of last season's pace. They're fielding better, too.
New coach Clint Myers says he likes all of that as Auburn opens SEC play against LSU at home Friday night, but he says the team's intangibles are even better after motoring through the early non-conference schedule with a 17-3-1 record.
"We've made some strides in a couple of areas, but probably the most important thing is the character," Myers said. "They've shown great competitiveness. In the games we've been behind, they didn't stop competing. We haven't gotten beaten, we've just lost games."
Not many though as Auburn turns to Friday's 6 p.m. game against LSU at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers will also play LSU at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"We had a good preseason. We learned what we needed to do," Myers said. "Now, we have to refine and put it together against post-season competition every weekend.
"If we take care of the controllable....there is no telling what we can do."
This is what Myers has done in the past: He's won nine Division I or junior college national championships, including two softball World Series titles at Arizona State.
Outfielder Branndi Melero figures Auburn softball is ready to show improvement, too.
"I feel like a lot of people are unprepared for what we are," Melero said of the SEC. "We're going to catch them completely off guard and show them we're a new team and we're ready to take on any challenges."
Melero says Auburn has changed since Myers arrived.
"The first time we practiced together, we were unfamiliar with the new things that were going to be thrown at us. But right now, being with them for a while now, we're getting use to what is expected of us," Melero said.
"The first few games it was, 'this is what we want from you guys. This is what we're teaching you, and you have to apply it without thinking.' Now, we know is expected of us; we're just playing the game we've been playing since we were little."
Myers talks about how Auburn is leading the SEC in double plays. He also talks about mixing power with discipline at the plate. The Tigers are tied for third in the SEC with 26 home runs in 21 games after hitting 32 homers in 53 games last year. They're second in the league in walks. They're third in runs scored.
"A home run is byproduct of a good swing. There's nobody trying to hit home runs," Myers said.
Auburn's two starting pitchers have been sharp as well. Lexi Davis is 8-3 with a 1.58 ERA. Marcy Harper is 8-0 with a 2.71 ERA.
"They're doing a great job. They have pitched tremendously," Myers said.
Now, the second phase of Myers' season begins. It's time for the SEC.
"We're waiting to see what we can do," he said. "We know we have to make some adjustments along the way."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: