Auburn Softball's Georgia Preview
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Auburn Softball's Preview

Auburn (12-14, 1-2) vs. Georgia (21-3, 0-0)
March 8-9 • Athens, Ga.

Complete PDF of Release

Scouting The Bulldogs...
The Georgia Bulldogs enter the series with Auburn with a record of 21-3 and will be playing their first conference series. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 9-6, including winning all four meetings last season, three in the regular season and one in the SEC tournament. Georgia has six batters hitting .300 or better who have at least 20 at bats, and a team batting average of .303, led by Nicole Barber who is hitting .438. Barber also leads the SEC in stolen bases with 27. Courtney Knight is also having a great year at the plate with a .347 average, while Shannon McKeon leads the Bulldogs in home runs (4) and RBI (18). Georgia's pitching has also been outstanding with Michelle Green posting a 13-2 record and an 0.40 ERA, followed by Lacey Gardner with a 7-1 record and an 0.46 ERA.  Green has 104.0 innings pitched, while Gardner has 45.1 innings. As a team, Georgia’s pitching staff has an ERA of 0.43.

Keyes’ Return...
Junior pitcher Kristen Keyes had an outstanding 2002 season, winning 21 games while posting a 1.78 ERA. However, she has had difficulty in 2003. Keyes is now 1-6 with a 5.11 ERA with one start since returning from arm injury, which made her miss Auburn’s previous 14 games. In the last game against Missouri on Feb. 8, she struck out seven of the first 11 batters she faced, but then gave up six runs in two innings. In her return against Florida on March 4, she once again gave up six runs, this time in 1.1 innings before being relieved.

Angling Back...
After missing the first 12 games of the season, Kasey Angulo a pinch hit appearance against Missouri on Feb. 8, and then started the next seven games at designated player before finally returning to first base against Birmingham Southern. She had arguably her biggest hit of the season against Florida on March 5 when she came up with a two-out, bases loaded single to give the Tigers a 2-0 in the third inning against Florida, leading to Auburn’s first SEC win.

Magic Five...
In their March 5 win over Florida, Auburn reached the five-hit mark for the 14th time this season and is now 11-3 in those games. In games which the Tigers have four or fewer hits, they are 1-11. Similarly, when Auburn scores five or more runs, it is 7-0.

Close Games...
Auburn leads the SEC in one-run games with eight and has a record of 4-4 in those games.

Returning To 300...
Sara Dean was 4-for-4 in the last two games versus Florida, elevating her average to .301. The last time her average was over .300 was following the Feb. 11 game at Samford. She also has two RBI from those four hits.

Griffin In A Groove...
In her last five games, Ashley Griffin has six hits, bouncing back from having just one hit in the five games prior.

Going Deep...
Against Birmingham Southern, Sara Dean, Anne Norton, Deni Zeigler and Martha Phillips all went deep to set a team record for home runs in a game with four. Phillips’ home run came in the first inning with the bases loaded for a grand slam. Only Zeigler’s home run was solo, as Dean and Norton both hit two-run shots in the 16-0 win.

Sweet 16...
Auburn’s total of 16 runs against Birmingham Southern was the team’s highest total since a 17-1 victory over Kentucky on April 28 of last season.

Jones Making Them Count...
Despite starting just 14 games this season with 52 plate appearances, Paige Jones leads Auburn in RBI with 15, five more than Sara Dean who is second on the team with 10. Jones is batting just .174 with eight hits, but half have been for extra bases with one double and three home runs, including a three-run shot against Alabama A&M on Feb. 27.

Not A Bad Alternative...
Not only was Anne Norton an admirable replacement for Kasey Angulo in the field at first base, but Norton also helped replace Angulo’s power. Her home run against Birmingham Southern was her fourth of the year, tying her for fourth in the SEC. Entering the 2003 season, Norton had only two career at bats with no hits. She is third on the team in batting average at .236, is tied for the team lead in walks at 11, which also ties her for fifth in the conference, and leads the team with a .527 slugging percentage.

Getting In Their Time...
Freshmen Janey Spivey and Jenny Diaz have had to adjust to the collegiate game quickly and are getting their opportunities. The two are ranked in the top five in the SEC in appearances with 16. Spivey is tied for first in the conference in games started with 14, while Diaz leads in games finished with 11.

Freshman Pitching Duo...
Freshmen Jenny Diaz and Janet Spivey have had a significant impact during on the 2003 season for the Tigers. Both players have performed admirably, especially in the absence of Auburn’s preseason top two starters, Kristen Keyes and Lily DuBois. Diaz has compiled a 6-2 record with a 2.57 ERA, while Spivey has posted a 5-6 record with a 2.61 ERA.

Spivey has pitched seven complete games this season with four of those being shutouts, but none bigger than the one over Florida on March 5 for her first SEC win. Spivey won her first two decisions in playoff games of the Tiger Invitational with complete games, and lost the next four, however in those games, the offense scored a combined four runs. Spivey has since won two decisions in which she was provided 21 runs in the two games, but lost to UAB and Florida and again was provided no runs before receiving three runs on March 5.

Diaz’s biggest impact came in the early season. At the USF-Louisville Slugger Invitational, she picked up two wins and allowed just four earned runs in 16.2 innings. She then earned her third win of the season against Mercer in the Tiger Invitational, allowing two earned runs on nine hits with one walk and three strikeouts in the complete game. Since that Mercer game, she has started twice and is 1-1, taking the loss against Lipscomb and earning a win over Alabama A&M. Her other two wins came in relief appearances for Spivey against Southeastern Louisiana and Mercer.

Doubling Up...
Freshman Ashley Griffin not only leads Auburn in batting average at .329, but she also leads the team and the SEC in doubles with nine. She has started at total of 20 games, and has one home run and five RBI.

Rising High...
As a team, Auburn hit .341 during the Holiday Inn Invitational. The performance elevated the team batting average to .233 for the season, up from the .200 average the team brought into the tournament.

Breaking Out...
Entering the Holiday Inn Invitational, the Tigers had struggled at the plate. Auburn had been limited to four or fewer hits in six of the previous eight games, compiling a 1-5 record in those games with the only win coming against Mercer at the Tiger Invitational. The Tigers had also scored more than four runs in only one of their last 12 games. In the five games of the tournament in Macon, Auburn scored 41 runs, as opposed to a total of 47 runs in the previous 17 games to open the season. The Tigers also eclipsed four runs in four of the games.

Taking On Troy...
Auburn traveled to face Troy State for the fourth time in school history and came away with a 4-3 loss in which Janet Spivey surrendered all four runs in the first inning before settleing down to retire 16 of the final 18 Lady Trojan batters. However, the damage had been done as the Tiger’s offense could only score three runs on three hits. Anne Norton hit her third home run of the season, which was a two-run shot in the seventh inning to bring her total in RBI up to six.

No Mardi Gras In Monroe...
Auburn traveled to Monroe, La., for the Mardi Gras Tournament over the weekend of Feb. 14-16, and finished with a 1-2 record, defeating Southeastern Louisiana, 3-2, on Friday and then losing to Tulsa, 5-0, and Louisiana Lafayette, 9-1, on Sunday. The tournament schedule was rained out on Saturday.

Stumbling Against Samford...
After a tournament championship, the Tigers managed only four hits against Samford in a 1-0 loss on Feb. 11 in Birmingham, Ala. Janet Spivey pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits  and one run on a solo home run, but it was enough as the Bulldogs held on for the upset.

Tiger Invitational Champions...
In dramatic fashion, freshman Ashley Griffin hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to turn a one-run deficit into a tournament championship as the Tigers defeated Missouri, 3-2, on Feb. 9. With the shot, Griffin wrapped up tournament most valuable player, concluding a weekend in which she was 9-for-15 with four doubles, the home run and three RBI. Fellow freshman Janet Spivey was named most valuable pitcher following back-to-back complete game wins in just the second and third starts of her career. Spivey pitched 14 innings and allowed only two runs in the semifinal and championship game.

Florida State...
After losing game one, 8-0, to the ninth-ranked Florida State Seminoles, Auburn fought back in game two as Anne Norton drove in a run to tie the game at 1-1 in the seventh inning with two outs, then took the lead in the tenth, only to give up two runs in the bottom of the tenth for a 3-2 loss. Jenny Diaz suffered her first loss of the season in game one, while Kristen Keyes pitched a complete game in 10 innings, but took the loss.


USF-Louisville Slugger Tournament...
Auburn finished with a record of 2-3 in the USF-Louisville Slugger Tournament. Auburn got an excellent look at national competition in the tournament, including second-ranked Arizona and Florida Atlantic, which finished just outside of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 preseason poll. The Tigers entered the tournament missing key players in 1B Kasey Angulo and P Lily DuBois due to injury. Angulo was the leading returner from last year in most offensive categories, while DuBois would be considered a number two starter before her injury. The opening game loss to Northwestern was the first in time Auburn lost a season opener in seven years.