Auburn Softball Preview
Auburn Tigers (17-18, 6-6)
UAB Blazers (16-15, 1-5 CUSA)
March 26, 2003 • 6:00 pm CST • Birmingham, AL
Scouting The Blazers
Auburn travels to Birmingham, Ala., with a record of 17-18, having already lost once to Alabama-Birmingham this season, 4-0, in Auburn on February 25. Kerri Foster, who for the season is 8-6 with a 1.74 ERA, held the Tigers to two hits with no walks and five strikeouts in a compete game. However, she has only won one game since that victory, going 1-4. Kelli Thompson and Amanda Ellis both hit home runs for the Blazers off of starter Janet Spivey, who gave up four runs in 5.2 innings for the loss. Kris Lara was 1-for-3 in the game, and is hitting .330 for the season to lead UAB in average, while Cliffanie Engram has recorded 20 RBI to lead that category. Engram and Candice Hithe are the biggest threats to steal, as they have totaled nine and 16 stolen bases, respectively. Nine Blazer hitters have hit at least one home run this season, but none has more than three, which has been accomplished by Beth Mullins. As a team, UAB is hitting .250, and the pitching staff has an ERA of 2.14. Besides Foster, Thompson is the other pitcher to see significant innings, compiling a 1.68 ERA and a record of 6-5 in 16 appearances.
vs. Alabama-Birmingham 7-3 W 2000
vs. Alabama-Birmingham 4-5 L 2000
at Alabama-Birmingham 7-3 W 2000
vs. Alabama-Birmingham 6-2 W 2001
vs. Alabama-Birmingham 0-4 L 2003
Holding Down The Rebels
With a three-game sweep of Ole Miss this past weekend, Auburn extended its streak of consecutive shutout victories over the Rebels to six. Over the past five seasons, Auburn has won 14 of the 17 games played versus Ole Miss, including a three-game sweep last season. Two of the losses in that span were also by only one run, and in 13 of the games, the Tigers held the Rebels to three runs or fewer, with eight shutouts and a record of 11-2.
‘Keye’ In On The Rebels
Kristen Keyes picked up two of Auburn’s three wins versus Ole Miss this weekend, finishing with two complete game shutouts. Dating back to last season’s series when she also earned two shutout wins, Keyes has now pitched 25.2 scoreless innings against the Rebels, allowing just 12 hits and six walks while striking out 41.
Kristen Keyes struck out a total of 24 batters in two starts versus Ole Miss, and in doing so, tied her own school record for strikeouts a game with 12, twice. She previously set that record on April 21, 2002 against Tennessee. Entering the series, she had struck out 55 in a total of 12 appearances.
Although Kristen Keyes’ performance against Ole Miss was better than a majority of the performances of past SEC Pitcher of the Week winners, it happened to come in a week when Georgia’s Michelle Green earned five wins and was named USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week for the nation.
Griffin Takes Charge
Ashley Griffin had a dominant performance at Ole Miss, collecting six hits in 10 at bats, all for extra bases, including five doubles and her first collegate triple. She extended her hitting streak to six games, and compiled a 1.300 slugging percentage for the weekend, as she took the team lead in that category for the season at .530. She also leads the team in batting average (.330), doubles (15) and total bases (53).
Ashley Griffin’s five doubles at Ole Miss vaulted her back into the lead in doubles in the SEC at 15, two ahead of Mississippi State’s Jennifer Waterman.
Auburn reached the five hit mark in each of the three games versus Ole Miss, and when they do, it ususally spells victory. The Tigers are now 15-5 in games which they have five or more hits.
Much like their record of 15-5 when the Tigers reach five hits, when they score five or more runs, they are 7-0 for the season.
Starting With Ole Miss
Auburn’s 3-6 record in conference play entering the Ole Miss series was one game better than last season’s start of 2-7 after nine games. In that season, Auburn swept the Rebels and recovered to finish 15-15 in the SEC. The Tigers were able once again to sweep this season and hope to continue the momentum.
10 Not Enough?
Although they have a 15-5 record when reaching the five-hit mark, one of Auburn’s more frustrating losses came in game one against Arkansas on March 15 when it reached the 10-hit mark for the fourth time this season, but could only manage one run on a home run, while leaving 11 runners on base. The Tigers were 3-0 with ten hits prior to that game.
Breaking The Hold
With their two wins over the Lady Razorbacks on March 16, the Tigers snapped an eight-game losing streak to Arkansas.
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.
Although she had her five game hitting streak snapped in the second game of the Ole Miss sereis, Sara Dean now has at least one hit in nine of the last 11 games, dating back to game two of the Florida series on March 4. In that span she has raised her average from .261 to .306.
Starting Back Up
Ashley Griffin is now has a six-game hitting in which she has nine hits after being shutout by Georgia, going 0-for-8 at the plate, which dropped her average to .296, the first time it had been below .300 since Feb. 7. With the streak, her average has risen back to .330
Taking The Mound
Kasey Angulo earned the first win of her Auburn career when she moved in from first base to pitch in the fourth inning of game three of the Arkansas series on March 16. Angulo had pitched one inning earlier in the season, but against Arkansas went 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Janet Spivey.
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. Including that game, Angulo has hit safely in six of the past nine games, and has raised her average from .182 to .250.
Jones Making Them Count
Despite starting just 18 games this season with 67 plate appearances, Paige Jones leads Auburn in RBI with 17, four more than Sara Dean who is second on the team with 13. Jones is batting just .164 with ten hits, but half have been for extra bases with one double and four home runs, including a solo shot versus Ole Miss on Saturday.
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 the team lead. Entering the 2003 season, Norton had only two career at bats with no hits. She is fifth on the team in batting average at .217, third in RBI with 10, tied for the lead in walks at 11.
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 have combine for 40 appearances, with Spivey tied for sixth in the SEC at 22 and Diaz not far behind at 18. Spivey is tied for fifth in the conference in games started with 17, while Diaz is second 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 7-7 record with a 2.88 ERA.
Spivey has pitched eight complete games this season with five 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. She rebounded with five shutout innings against Arkansas on March 16 and a complete game shutout against Ole Miss on March 22
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 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 a loss against Lipscomb and earning a win over Alabama A&M. Her other two wins came in relief for Spivey against Southeastern Louisiana and Mercer.
Auburn has participated in eight one-run games this season and is 4-4 and is 2-1 in extra innings.
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.
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 game against Alabama-Birmingham due to injury.
Auburn returns home to face South Carolina in a three-game series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 29, and a single game on Sunday, March 30, with start times at noon on both days.