Auburn Softball Preview
Auburn Tigers (12-17, 1-5)
Arkansas (13-13, 2-4)
March 15-16, 2003 • 7:00 pm, 1:00 pm (DH) CT
Jane B. Moore Field • Auburn, AL
Scouting The Lady Razorbacks
The The University of Arkansas Lady Razorbacks enter the series with Auburn at 13-13 overall, 2-4 in the SEC. While the Tigers did not play a mid-week series, the Lady Razorbacks won 2-of-3 versus Ole Miss in Fayetteville, Ark., on Wednesday and Thursday. Valanna Lyons earned both wins for Arkansas in the series and leads the team for the season with an ERA of 2.82 and a 6-6 record in 18 appearances and 11 starts. Heather Schlichtman and Blaire Woodward have both pitched significant innings also, with Schlichtman compiling a 4-5 record and an ERA of 3.50 in 10 appearances, including eight starts, and Woodward going 3-2 with a 4.31 ERA in eight appearances, including seven starts. At the plate, Ruth Atkins leads the team in average at .373 and is second in RBI with 12. Kim Eiben and Lauren Hendrix are both hitting better than .345, while Julie Young leads in RBI with 18. As a team, Arkansas is hitting .259 for the season with an ERA of 3.43, while its opponents are hitting .248 and have an ERA of 2.38.
Tiger By The Tail
Over the past four seasons, Arkansas has won 17 of the last 19 games over Auburn, including the last seven in a row, however most of the games have been close with the greatest margin of victory being six runs in 2001. Only once in the series has either team scored more than seven runs in a game, a 9-0 win by Auburn in 1997.
Not A Sweet Song
In losing three games at Georgia on March 7 and 8, the Tigers were outscored 26-5. It was the most runs surrendered by an Auburn team in a three-game series since the SEC changed from the two-game and four-game series format for the 2001 season. Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have now outscored the Tigers 55-14 in seven games.
They’ve Done It Before
Although Auburn has had a disappointing start to its SEC play with a 1-5 record, last season, the Tigers started 0-6 in conference play and recovered to finish 15-15.
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 1-8 with a 5.60 ERA with three starts 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. Her struggles continued at Georgia, starting two games and lasting 3.1 innings each outing while three runs and seven runs, respectively.
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.
Despite a loss at Georgia on March 9 when they reached six hits, the Tigers are still 11-4 when they have five or more hits in a game. The previous outing with that many was a 3-0 win over Florida on March 5. In games which the Tigers have four or fewer hits, they are 1-13. Similarly, when Auburn scores five or more runs, it is 7-0.
Auburn and Arkansas have both participated in eight one-run games, with the Tigers going 4-4, and the Lady Razorbacks 5-3. The teams have also been in three extra inning games each and are both 2-1
Returning To 300
With a 3-for-7 effort against excellent Georgia pitching, Sara Dean elevated her average to .312 for the season. She was 4-for-4 in the last two games versus Florida on March 4 and 5 to reach .301, while prior to Florida, the last time her average was over .300 was following the Feb. 11 game at Samford. Dean has also reached base in six consecutive games including a walk and being hit by a pitch.
Dropping Below 300
Ashley Griffin was shutout against Georgia, going 0-for-8 at the plate, which dropped her average to .296, the first time it has been below .300 since Feb. 7. Prior to Georgia, she had hit safely in her last three games, all coming against Florida.
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.
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 17 games this season with 61 plate appearances, Paige Jones leads Auburn in RBI with 16, five more than Sara Dean who is second on the team with 11. Jones is batting just .170 with nine hits, but almost 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 fourth on the team in batting average at .241, third in RBI with 10, tied for the lead in walks at 11, and leads the team with a .517 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 tied for third in the SEC in appearances with 18. Spivey is tied for second in the conference in games started with 15, while Diaz leads in games finished with 12.
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 2.89 ERA, while Spivey has posted a 5-7 record with a 3.22 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. Her last start was her worst of the season as she surrendered more than four runs in a game for the first time as the Bulldogs scored seven against her on March 8.
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.
Holiday In Macon
The Tigers traveled to Macon, Ga., from Feb. 21-23 for the Holiday Inn Invitational, hosted by Mercer, where they came away with a 4-1 record, including their third win of the season over Mercer. Below are Auburn’s results from the tournament:
Date Opponent Results
Fri., Feb. 21 vs. Wright State 8-0 W (5)
Fri., Feb. 21 vs. Lipscomb 0-1 L
Sat., Feb. 22 vs. Mercer 5-4 W (8)
Sun., Feb. 23 vs. Birmingham Southern 16-0 W (5)
Sun., Feb. 23 vs. Alabama A&M 12-1 W (5)
As a team, Auburn hit .341 during the Holiday Inn Invitational. At the time,the performance elevated the team batting average to .233 for the season, up from the .200 average the team brought into the tournament.
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.
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.
Tiger Invitational Day Three Results
Championship Game: Auburn 3, Missouri 2
Consolation Game: Mercer 2, UT-Chattanooga 1
Tiger Invitational Day Two Results
Game One: Mercer 2, UT-Chattanooga 0
Game Two: Missouri 8, Auburn 3
Game Three: Missouri 4, UT-Chattanooga 0
Game Four: Auburn 3, Mercer 0
Tiger Invitational Day One Results
Game One: Missouri 4, Mercer 2 (8 innings)
Game Two: Missouri 7, UT-Chattanooga 0
Game Three: Auburn 9, Mercer 2
Game Four: Auburn 4, UT-Chattanooga 2
Tiger Invitational Awards
Most Valuable Player: Ashley Griffin, Auburn
Most Valuable Pitcher: Janet Spivey, Auburn
In the four seasons Auburn has hosted the Tiger Invitational, the Tigers have compiled a 19-3 record.
Most Valuable Pitcher, Most Valuable Player
Janet Spivey made one of her biggest impacts this season in the Tiger Invitational, pitching a complete game shutout against Mercer to advance Auburn to the championship game and following that with two-run complete game against Missouri to win the title and most valuable pitcher honors in her first two collegiate starts. Fellow freshman Ashley Griffin helped her earn the championship win with a game-winning two-run home run in the top of the seventh, upping her average for the tournament to .600, as she took most valuable player honors.
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.
USF-Louisville Slugger Tournament Results
Date Opponent Results
Fri., Jan. 31 vs. Northwestern Wildcats 1-6 L
Fri., Jan. 31 vs. Florida Atlantic Owls 5-3 W
Sat., Feb. 1 vs. Arizona Wildcats 0-6 L
Sat., Feb. 1 vs. South Florida Bulls 4-6 L
Sun., Feb. 2 vs. Sam Houston St. Bearkats 6-5 W (8)
Pitcher Lily DuBois will miss the series against Arkansas series due to injury.
Auburn travels to Oxford, Miss., for a three-game series against the Ole Miss Rebels beginning with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. and continuing with single game Sunday at 1 p.m.