Auburn Softball Notebook - March 25

March 25, 2014

Overall Record: 28-5-1 

Previous Results:

March 19 – vs. Murray State – W, 10-0 (5)
March 19 – vs. Murray State – W, 11-7
March 21 – vs. Mississippi State – W, 11-3 (6)
March 22 – vs. Mississippi State – W, 5-2
March 23 – vs. Mississippi State – L, 5-2 

This Week’s Schedule (Away): Non-Conference and Conference

Wednesday, March 26: at Georgia State (Atlanta, Ga.) – 4 p.m.
Friday, March 28: at Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) – 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 29: at Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) – 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 30: at Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) – 12 p.m.

Head coach Clint Myers on his team not being able to sweep Mississippi State:
“We won two out of three. When you win two out of three, you’re sitting pretty good, but I would have like to see us get that third one. Sweeps in the SEC are as rare as they were in the PAC-12. Any time you can get a sweep, it’s huge. We were just uncharacteristic in the third game. Our defense wasn’t quite as sharp, we made a few errors and we didn’t capitalize on opportunities like we’ve been doing. Consistency is that area that we have to work on.”

Head coach Clint Myers on his team’s ability to come back from deficits in games:
“It’s the competitiveness that these kids have started to display. They were up there battling until the final out with the belief of they can score a lot of runs with two outs. Their hearts are in the right place, we just have to get their minds and bodies performing like we want and they want on a consistent basis.” 

Head coach Clint Myers on his team’s ability to have a big inning at any point in the game:
“They’ve proven that all year long and it’s a good trait to have. We continue to go out and believe in ourselves in that respect. We can go out in any one inning and have a big inning. We know what the formula is. It’s the ability of taking that knowledge and putting it into outcomes and making it happen. On Saturday, we had 18 hitters come to the plate before we had a ground ball. That’s not us and it’s not our mentality. Once we started the groundball, the big inning ensued because we were getting the barrel on the ball in the right location with line drives. We scored all those runs and not a single ball went over anyone’s head. These are things that we as coaches see. Things that the kids need to see and they need to be able to have that mental adjustment in the first inning. Not in the fourth or the fifth inning after they’ve had one or two at-bats. They have to have that mentality of striking first and putting it on them. Our schedule is going to get a little tougher, so there won’t be as many mistakes made by pitchers. We’re going to have to have a consistent game plan that we’re going to have to execute.” 

Head coach Clint Myers on his scouting report so far on Kentucky:
“A lot of it, we rely on the girls. They explain to us about the ballpark and little things that go on there. At Arizona State, we played Kentucky in the super regional, so we just happen to have that scouting report. It’s a new team and a new year. They’re well coached and well disciplined. They have good players and are in the top ten in the rankings. We’re going to play a team that’s playing with great confidence and were 5-1 last week. We’re just going to have to play well.”

Branndi Melero – Jr. – Canyon Country, Calif.
--Continues to have her best season of her collegiate career as she helped Auburn go 4-1 last week with two wins over Murray State and a series win over Mississippi State.
--Melero has been instrumental in Auburn’s best 34-game start in school history and currently leads the team in batting average (.443) and RBI (51).
--Melero is one of only three Auburn players to have a batting average of .400 or higher and has led the team and the conference in RBI for the last four weeks. Her 51 RBI is only two more than teammate Kasey Cooper, who holds the second spot in the category.
--Melero’s 51 RBI is 11 more than any non-Auburn player in the conference.
--Over the last five games, Melero notched six hits in 12 plate appearances, best on the team.
--She came up big in the first game against the Bulldogs, hitting her eighth double of the year during Auburn’s big eight-run fourth inning to help re-take the lead en route to winning the first game of the three game set.
--The junior hit her only home run of the weekend during Sunday’s game against Mississippi State, her ninth of the year, good for second on the team and a tie for seventh in the conference. 

Emily Carosone – So. – Orlando, Fla.  
-- One of three Auburn players hitting over .400 this season (.410).
--Hit her fourth homer of the year to finish off the 11 runs scored in Friday’s game against Mississippi State to take the first game of the three-game series.
--Currently leads the nation and the team in hit by pitches this year (17), two coming in last week’s games with Murray State and MSU. The total is also currently first in the nation.
--Her hit by pitch total is already fourth-most in a single-season in Auburn history.
--Had three-straight games with two hits last week, upping her season total to 32, good for fourth on the team.
--Reached base in 14 of her last 15 games and has an on-base percentage of .600 going into this week’s games. That percentage is best on the team, second in the conference and fifth in the nation. 

Marcy Harper – So. – Hoover, Ala.
-- Saw the circle twice last week (vs. Murray State and Mississippi State), going 10.0 innings and giving up only five earned runs on 10 hits with 12 strikeouts.
--Stayed undefeated at 13-0, garnering the win in game two of the double-header with Murray State.
--Has an ERA of 2.92 for the season with six complete games and 79.0 innings pitched and 93 strikeouts.
--Took the win in nine of her last 10 starts.
--Started game two of the three-game series with Mississippi State, going six innings and giving up only two earned runs with seven strikeouts.

This week marks Auburn’s third-straight week in the NFCA/Coaches’ team rankings, but even with a 2-1 series win over Mississippi State last week, the Tigers stayed at No. 21 this week in both national polls. Last week, Auburn was ranked No. 21 by both the NFCA and Softball rankings. However, it sets up nicely for its weekend series with Kentucky who dropped one spot to No. 10 going into this weekend. The Wildcats will be Auburn fourth ranked opponent this season and fifth against a team that has been ranked at some point this season (Florida State, Oregon, LSU, Notre Dame, Kentucky).

The top four of the batting order for Auburn including: sophomore Emily Carosone, redshirt junior Morgan Estell, freshman Kasey Cooper and junior Branndi Melero have been a major part of the Tigers offensive surge. As a unit, the top four of the Auburn order have hit .421 with 25 homers and 151 RBI. That means over 50 percent of Auburn’s long balls and 55 percent of its RBI have come from these four players. All but Estell have a batting average currently over .400, while Melero and Cooper both lead the conference in RBI (51 and 49 respectively).

The Tigers got back to conference play last weekend, welcoming Mississippi State to Jane B. Moore Field. Auburn was looking to continue its strong start to the conference season after taking two of three from LSU and did the same with MSU. Auburn won the first two games of the series and was hoping to sweep the Bulldogs on Sunday, but fell in the final contest for its fifth loss of the year. AU still took the first two games of the series, scoring 11 in game one and five in game two. Auburn utilized an eight-run fourth inning on Friday and went on to score three more in the contest to win it in six innings. As for game two, the Tigers had to come back late, again, scoring all five of their runs in the sixth inning and earning Lexi Davis her second win of the weekend. The series win was Auburn’s fourth-straight over the Bulldogs dating back to 2011.

With the first RPI rankings released by the NCAA this week, Auburn finds itself in a familiar spot at No. 21, identical to its two national team poll rankings. The RPI rankings are based on a team’s opponents’ winning percentage. Out of its 2104 opponents, Auburn has faced four teams that are currently ranked in the national polls (Notre Dame, Florida State, Oregon, LSU). Against those teams, the Tigers have racked up a 2-3 record, both wins coming against No. 24 LSU. Out of the rest of the national offensive rankings, Auburn ranks in the top-25 as a team in six categories (batting average, double plays, fielding percentage, home runs, scoring and slugging percentage). Auburn ranks second in the nation in home runs (48), first in scoring (8.71 rpg) and ninth in fielding percentage (.978). The Tigers are also fifth in slugging percentage (.557), trailing only Georgia (.597) in the conference. Junior Branndi Melero continues to hold the RBI lead in the SEC (51) with freshman Kasey Cooper right behind her with 49. But they both trail Florida State’s Maddie O’Brien nationally, who has 57 RBI this year. Sophomore Jade Rhodes broke into the national RBI rankings this week as she is No. 97 with 32 RBI, good for third on the team.

The Auburn softball team will play in three nationally-televised games in 2014. The Tigers will have two games on the ESPN family of networks and one on the Fox Sports Network. Auburn’s first appearance will be in its first game of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic when it takes on Oregon at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Fla. First pitch for that game is scheduled for 11 a.m. eastern on Feb. 28 and will be seen on The team’s second appearance, coming on ESPNU, will be when head coach Clint Myers takes his team to Gainesville, Fla., to face the SEC coaches’ preseason favorite Florida Gators on Saturday, April 5. The game is slated for a 5 p.m. central start and will be the second of a three-game series. Auburn’s lone home television appearance will be the next week against Missouri on Saturday, April 12 with first pitch at Jane B. Moore Field scheduled for 1 p.m. With these three games, Auburn will have appeared on national television 27 times since 2010.

After the 2-1 series win over Mississippi State last week, Auburn softball found itself in the midst of its best 34-game start in school history. The last time Auburn had a record near its current 28-5-1 record was in 2011 when the team started 28-6 en route to a 40-19 season and an NCAA Regional appearance.  This year’s squad is having the third-best season by an Auburn team trailing only the 2011 squad and the 2005 team that went 50-18, winning 21 conference games and hosting the NCAA regional.