Auburn Softball Carries Six-Game Winning Streak Against USC
March 28, 2003
Auburn, Ala.—The Auburn softball team will host the South Carolina Gamecocks for a three-game series at Jane B. Moore Field, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 29, at noon, and concluding with a single-game on Sunday, March 30, also at noon.
Auburn enters the series with an 18-18 record, 6-6 in the Southeastern Conference, and is riding a six-game winning streak that includes two home wins over Arkansas, a three-game road sweep of Ole Miss and a win at Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday. The streak also includes four shutouts and a combined score of 19-4 in the Tigers favor. Kristen Keyes has led the charge, posting three complete game wins with an ERA of 0.29. She has also tied her own school record of 12 strikeouts in a game three times. Combined with two wins by Janet Spivey and one by Kasey Angulo, the Tigers have a team ERA of 0.49 in that span.
Ashley Griffin and Deni Zeigler have been the driving forces at the plate. Over the six games, Griffin is batting .450 with five doubles, a triple and four RBI with a slugging percentage of .800, while Zeigler drove in four of Auburn’s five runs in the contest against UAB.
However, the Tigers have a tough task ahead as 13th-ranked South Carolina brings a 22-7 overall and 6-2 SEC record. Auburn is hoping to improve on its all-time record of 2-14 against the Gamecocks, which includes a streak of six straight losses. Despite the record, the Tigers always play USC close, as ten of the 14 loses have been by two runs or fewer. South Carolina is coming off of a three-game sweep of Arkansas in Fayetteville by a combined score of 16-4.
“(The Gamecocks) always have a good defensive ball club and their pitching is always stellar,” said head coach Tina Deese. “Melanie Henkes is a very good pitcher. She throws the ball hard, and you’re going to see the same thing from Stacey Johnson. My guess is that we’ll see Stacey Johnson first and Melanie Henkes second, both of which are good pitchers who are going to throw the ball down. Henkes throws the ball up a little bit more, which I hope to see, because usually we hit the low and out pitch well, but I think we’ve picked it up with the high, inside pitch. Last year, I think their offense improved quite a bit, and I think that’s carrying over this year. Their shortstop, (Amber) Curtis, she can swing the bat. I think they’re kind of like us. They get up there and take their cuts and are going to swing hard, one through nine. They don’t have a lot of the short game, so we’re not going to see a lot of that, but they do have some strong lefties.”
Stacey Johnson and Melanie Henkes have each started 13 games for USC with Johnson posting a record of 9-4 and a 1.25 ERA, while Henkes is 11-2 with a 2.52 ERA. Amber Curtis and Danielle Quinones lead the Gamecocks in batting with averages of .402 and .342, respectively, but Debralee Troesh supplies the power, having recorded seven home runs and 21 RBI, ranking first on the team in both categories. Ashley Smith is second in those categories with four home runs and 18 RBI. As a team, South Carolina is batting .270 this season and has a team ERA of 1.96.
Following the South Carolina series, Auburn will travel to Tuscaloosa for three games, including a Wednesday, April 2, doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m., and a Thursday, April 3, single game, starting at 2 p.m.