March 27, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a 16-1 dispatching of Georgia State Wednesday afternoon, the No. 21 Auburn softball team continues its road trip to Lexington, Ky., this weekend to take on the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats at John Cropp Stadium.
Auburn, winners of 12 of its last 13 games, is one win away from its 2013 total already at 29-5-1 and will be looking to eclipse that total previous year’s total with a possible third-straight conference series win, second over a ranked opponent. The Tigers defeated then-24th-ranked LSU to open conference play, two games to one back in early March and then took 2-out-of-3 against Mississippi State last weekend.
On Wednesday, Auburn plated 16 runs against the Panthers of Georgia State. Sophomore Jade Rhodes hit her second grand slam of the year and freshman Kasey Cooper hit two home runs, part of the 13 hits in the win, six coming from the bats of Rhodes, Cooper and redshirt junior Morgan Estell.
Cooper finished the game 2-for-2 with five RBI, all off the long ball. The five RBI is her second-largest total in a game this year and upped her season home run total to 11, good for tops on the team. Her multi-home run game is only the second two homer game by a Tiger this year following Jenna Abbott, who hit two against Winthrop on Feb. 16. Cooper is now batting .467 this season, a team-best and best among SEC freshmen.
The freshman now leads the team in average (.454), hits (44), home runs (11) and RBI (54). The RBI total is now one more than teammate Branndi Melero (53), who has led the SEC in the category for the last four weeks. Melero is right behind Cooper in average (.451), hits (41), home runs (8) and RBI (53), having her best season as a collegian. Both players currently lead the SEC in RBI and have been interchanging in the one-two spots for the last three weeks.
The top four of the Auburn batting order has continued to produce from game one as Cooper, Melero, Estell and sophomore Emily Carosone have combined to hit .426 with 27 home runs and 159 RBI. Rhodes’ bat has come around as of late as she is now third on the team in RBI (37) and now gives the Tigers a solid bat in the five-spot.
Rhodes finished Wednesday’s game 1-for-3, the only hit off the grand slam, her fifth long ball of the season, but she added an RBI on a sacrifice fly later in the game, bringing her afternoon total to five. The RBI total ties her career high and puts her season average at .274, good for fourth on the team. As a team, Auburn has now hit seven grand slams this season.
In the circle, sophomores Marcy Harper and Lexi Davis have continued to hold things down for the Tigers. Harper picked up her 14th win of the year Wednesday against Georgia State, now tying her for the team lead in wins with Davis. Davis will be looking to get back on track this weekend after suffering the loss in game three of the team’s series with Mississippi State, but did pick up the victories in games one and two. Davis currently has an ERA of 1.96 with 98 strikeouts and only given up 33 earned runs.
Friday’s first pitch at John Copp Stadium in Lexington is set for 6 p.m. EST. Saturday’s game is set for 3 p.m. EST, while Sunday will start at 1 p.m. EST.
All games this weekend can be heard locally on WEGL 91.1 or online at AuburnTigers.com with Brit Bowen on the call. Live stats will also be available on AuburnTigers.com throughout the weekend courtesy of UKAthletics.com.
For more information on Auburn softball, visit AuburnTigers.com, follow the team on Twitter @AuburnTigersSB or follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuburnSB.