Auburn Softball Notebook - April 2

April 2, 2014



Overall Record: 31-6-1

Previous Results:
March 26 – at Georgia State – W (16-1 in 5 innings)
March 28 – at No. 10 Kentucky – W (7-6)
March 30 – at No. 10 Kentucky – W (6-4)
March 30 – at No. 10 Kentucky – L (2-1)

This Week’s Schedule (Away): Conference
Friday, April 4: at No. 6 Florida (Gainesville, Fla.) – 5 p.m. CST
Saturday, April 5: at No. 6 Florida (Gainesville, Fla.) – 4 p.m. CST
Sunday, April 6: at No. 6 Florida (Gainesville, Fla.) – 12 p.m. CST



Head coach Clint Myers on his team winning its third-straight conference series, two games to one, over No. 10 Kentucky last weekend:
“They (Kentucky) are a good ball club. They were ranked 10th in the country for a reason. They’ve got good pitching, they’ve got great hitters, and a good defense. They made a couple mistakes and we made them pay. Those were big things for us as well. We were pretty excited. We feel bad that we let the third one slip away because we had that one. There were only two balls hit hard off of Marcy (Harper) all day. The problem was she had a little control problem and walked five, including the winning run that came in on a walk. She was out there battling doing the best that she could. You have to get better, yes, but that is true for all of us. The coaching is going to get better, the players are going to get better. You have to find yourselves and be able to adjust to make the plays necessary and make the pitches necessary and make the contact necessary to win.”

Head coach Clint Myers on the performance of Jade Rhodes last week:
“Jade (Rhodes) has really come through for us. She hit her third grand slam of the season, she hit one on Georgia State. It was unusual but she came up three times in that game with the bases loaded and she really came through for us big on the first one. Credit to her, she is working really, really hard with Casey (Myers) to understand her stroke, to understand her mindset, and to really develop a good sound plan. She went up there in a clutch situation and not with a big swing. All she was trying to do was borough it up and it went off the scoreboard. Jade was pretty happy, we were pretty happy. It goes back to the definition of a home run is a by product of a good swing.”

Head coach Clint Myers on how his team’s mindset has changed throughout the course of the season:
“Communication is huge with us but we have explained to them that in the fall we teach and in the spring we refine. Now they are starting to understand what we are talking about with refinement. It is not big wholesale changes in any physical aspect, it is more of how do I approach this, what do I need to do, how can I let go of something negative. Like I said, they are starting to learn these things and it is evident with the ability to go out and play and beat a club like Kentucky. We could not have done that back in February and we are moving in the right direction. We are going to have a real good test with the remainder of the season.”

Head coach Clint Myers on what he expects from No. 6 Florida this weekend:
“Tim (Walton) does a great job of coaching down there. They are great athletes as well. They have been to the college world series a lot and it is going to be a lot of fun.  It is going to be a dog fight but it is going to be interesting because they dropped three to Tennessee this weekend. Are they going to be able to rebound?  Are they going to be overlooking us? We are Auburn, we are not Tennessee so how are they going to look at it? We know how we are going to look at it so it is going to be a softball game that we are going to prepare for and that we have to go out and execute. I think that is another thing they are starting to understand. We are not playing the opposition. The opposition will give us some tendencies of what they might do. However, we know what we need to do as far as  paying attention to detail, taking care of the little things, and going out and playing good Auburn softball. When we play good Auburn softball we are very difficult to beat.”

Branndi Melero – Jr. – Canyon Country, Calif.
-Went 5-for-12 (.417) last weekend, including one home run in game one of the Kentucky series that helped Auburn take the lead for good after a five-run comeback.
--Currently on a five-game hitting streak with six total hits and six RBI during the stretch.
--Has led the SEC in RBI since Feb. 17, accounting for six-straight weeks.
--56 RBI for the year is already second-most in a season by an Auburn player in program history.
--Currently hitting .440 for the year, one of three Auburn players with a plus-.400 average at this point in the season.
--Topped the .400 average mark after going 3-for-3 against Troy and has held it above that mark for the last 13 games.
--Had a key two-run home run in the first game of the series with 10th-ranked Kentucky; Now with nine long balls on the year.
--Currently slugging .790, good for second on the team behind Kasey Cooper (.813).
--Has yet to make an error after starting all 38 games in right field.
--In conference play, Melero is hitting. 333 with 14 RBi and four home runs. Both the home run and RBI totals lead the team through the first nine games of SEC play. The RBI total is good for a tie for third in the conference, while the home runs is second-most.

Kasey Cooper – Fr. – Dothan, Ala.  
--Continues to lead the team in average (.449), hits (48), home runs (11) and slugging (.813).
--Hit two home runs in the game against Georgia State, part of a 16-1, five inning, victory over the Panthers.
--One of three Auburn players to have a batting average of .400 or higher.
--Has only struck out twice in 107 at-bats this season.
--In nine conference games, is hitting an even .400 with nine RBI, 12 hits and two home runs.
--Has yet to make an error in SEC play.
--When leading off an inning, Cooper has 10 hits in 14 opportunities (.714) and .333 (10-of-30) with two outs.
--Notched multi-hit games in five of her last 10 games.
--Went a perfect 2-for-2 against Georgia State, both being home runs for a five RBI day, her second-highest RBI total in a game this season.
--Became only the second Auburn player this year to have a multi-home run game (Jenna Abbott vs. Winthrop).

Jade Rhodes – So. – Sarasota, Fla.
--Had four hits in four games last week, two coming by way of grand slams to help the 21st-ranked Auburn Tigers take a mid-week contest from Georgia State and then a 2-1 series win over 10th-ranked Kentucky.
--Currently hitting .269 this season and is third on the team in RBI (41). She currently trails teammates Branndi Melero (56) and Kasey Cooper (55), who not only lead the team in that category, but the Southeastern Conference.
--Against Georgia State, went 1-for-3 (.333) with her one hit being a grand slam. She tacked one more RBI in the game, part of a 16-run output by the Tigers in the victory.
--The five RBI in the game tied a new career-high for the sophomore.
--Rhodes only had one hit and no RBI in the 7-6 win over Kentucky on Friday, but lifted Auburn to the series victory on Sunday in game two with a 2-for-4 performance (.500) with five RBI, four off another grand slam.
--The grand slam is her third of the season, making half of her home runs this season coming from grand slams.

TIGERS TAKE TWO FROM 10TH-RANKED WILDCATS; WIN FIRST TOP-TEN SERIES ON ROAD IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Auburn continued its hot start to the conference season, winning its third-straight SEC series, getting a 7-6 and a 6-4 win in the first two games of a three-game set with the 10th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats last weekend. The series win is not only Auburn’s first on the road this year, but it is also the team’s first series win over a top-10 team on the road in school history. Auburn’s last series win, home or away, over a top-10 team came back during the 2011 season when the Tigers took two-of-three from the 4th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. With the two wins, the Tigers have now surpassed last year’s win total (30) and are off to the program’s third-best start in school history.

TOP FOUR GETTING THE JOB DONE FOR AUBURN
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 28 homers and 163 RBI. That means over 50 percent of Auburn’s long balls and 54 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 (56 and 55 respectively). Sophomore Jade Rhodes has jumped in the fray lately hitting .269 for the year with six home runs and 41 RBI. Her RBI total is good for third on the team and she has hit three grand slams, two occurring last week.

ORANGE AND BLUE MOVE INTO TOP-20 IN NEWEST NATIONAL POLLS
After a 16-1 win over Georgia State and then a series win over No. 10 Kentucky, Auburn rose two spots in both national polls this week to No. 19, the second-highest ranking in school history. The Tigers were steady at No. 21 for the last two weeks in the NFCA/Coaches’ Poll along with the ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll, but have benefitted from three-straight conference series victories to open SEC play and have had a presence in the national polls for the last four weeks and have been ranked in five of the nine weeks this year. This weekend’s opponent, No. 6 Florida, will be Auburn’s second-highest ranked opponent in 2014 (No. 4 Oregon on Feb. 28).  

CAROSONE GETTING ON BASE ANY WAY SHE CAN
Sophomore Emily Carosone has been the Tigers’ quintessential leadoff batter this season as she leads the team in on-base percentage (.596), much by the way of the hit by pitch. Carosone has tallied a staggering 20 hit by pitches this year, ranking first in the conference and the nation. Having only eight hit by pitches last season, Carosone now has 28 hit by pitches in her career. The sophomore has still been getting on base the old-fashioned way as she is one of three Auburn players batting over .400 (.418) with 38 hits and 25 RBI.

TIGERS TO PLAY ON NATIONAL TELEVISION THREE TIMES IN 2014: 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 ESPN3.com. 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.

RHODES SLAMS WAY INTO SPOTLIGHT
Last weekend, sophomore Jade Rhodes had one of the best performances by an Auburn Tiger this year. The Sarasota-native hit two grand slams in three games to up her season-total to six long balls. Half of her home runs this year have come by grand slams and her most recent one helped Auburn defeat No. 10 Kentucky in game two to clinch the series. Rhodes now has 41 RBI this year good for third on the team and in the SEC. Rhodes has 14 hits in her last 14 games including 22 RBI in those 14 games. Against Georgia State, Rhodes tied a career-high with 5 RBI in the game, four coming off a grand slam. It’s Rhodes’ second five-RBI game this season.