Auburn Softball Visits #16 Alabama
April 1, 2003
AUBURN —The Auburn softball team travels to Tuscaloosa to begin a six-game road trip and take on the 16th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a three-game series, beginning with a Wednesday doubleheader at 5 p.m. and concluding with a single game on Thursday at 2 p.m.
Auburn enters the series with a 19-20 record, 7-8 in the Southeastern Conference, and has won seven of its last nine games, including two home wins over Arkansas, a three-game road sweep of Ole Miss, a win at Alabama-Birmingham and a win over 13th-ranked South Carolina on Saturday. Despite having one rough outing against South Carolina, Kristen Keyes has been solid with a 4-1 record in that span with an ERA of 1.66, including three complete game wins. 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 1.67 in that span.
At the plate over the past nine games, Ashley Griffin has hit .345 with six doubles, a triple and four RBI. Kasey Angulo is just behind her with a .318 average to go along with three doubles and her first home run of the season, which she hit against South Carolina. Sara Dean has also been productive, posting a .250 average with four doubles and three RBI, including the game-winning hit in the Tigers’ 2-1 win over USC on Saturday. Alabama leads the all-time series 13-9, including a win in last year’s SEC tournament following a regular season three-game sweep by the Tigers.
The Crimson Tide is currently atop the Southeastern Conference Western Division standings with a 9-3 conference record, 26-13 overall. Alabama features a strong pitching staff, with all three pitchers having started at least 12 games with no fewer than seven wins each and ERAs all below 2.00. Erin Wright has totaled a 12-5 record with a 1.80 ERA, while Stephanie VanBrakle and Jennifer Wright are both 7-4 with ERAs of 1.29 and 1.94, respectively, for a team ERA of 1.67.
“It’s going to be a tough match up,” said head coach Tina Deese. “Alabama is highly ranked and playing very, very well right now. They’ve got Erin Wright, who is going to throw the ball down and work her change-up in. They’ve got another (pitcher) in Jen Wright who’s going to throw the ball down, and then VanBrakle, who’s a freshman, but she’s throwing the ball really well right now. They’ve got three very, very strong left-handers in their lineup, and they can hit the ball a ton, so it’s going to be a similar match up to what we saw with South Carolina.”
At the plate, four Alabama starters are currently hitting better than .300, highlighted by Jennifer Reach at .392 and Jackie McClain at .353. McClain also leads the team in RBI with 31, ranking her fourth in the SEC. VanBrakle has also been effective with her bat, recording a .317 average and leading the team in home runs with five. As a team, the Crimson Tide is hitting .269 for the season, but is hitting .325 in SEC play, which leads the conference.
Following the Alabama series, Auburn will travel to Starkville, Miss., for three games against Mississippi State, including a Saturday, April 5, doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m., and a Sunday, April 6, single game, starting at 12:30 p.m.