Auburn Softball Notebook - April 9

April 9, 2014

Overall Record: 31-9-1

Previous Results:
April 4 – at No. 6 Florida – L (4-2)
April 5 – at No. 6 Florida – L (7-6)
April 6 – at No. 6 Florida – L (1-0)

This Week’s Schedule (Home): Conference
Friday, April 11: vs. No. 16/18 Missouri (Auburn, Ala.) – 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 12: vs. No. 16/18 Missouri (Auburn, Ala.) – 1 p.m. ON FOX SPORTS SOUTH
Sunday, April 13: vs. No. 16/18 Missouri (Auburn, Ala.) – 1 p.m. 

Head coach Clint Myers on his team being swept by No. 6 Florida last weekend in Gainesville, Fla.:
“You look at where we are now and where we’ve come from, the character of this team is starting to show of never giving in, never giving up and never conceding. We had a chance to win three ball games. We define winning and losing by ‘We lost. They didn’t win.’ We made some mistakes and we didn’t capitalize on our opportunities and even I tried to score someone from second base on a ground ball up the middle. I rolled the dice and it wasn’t a high percentage play. We weren’t scoring a lot of runs, but if you make a play like that, you can get on the board quickly. We’re battling. It was a great game on Sunday. We had some chances, but just couldn’t get the key hit at the end to make it happen. We played good defense and we’re out there. They’re getting better. We just have to mature and grow up.”

Head coach Clint Myers on club’s strong defensive play throughout the season:
“I think like everything on the softball field is that it’s about the mindset. You take in the philosophy of attacking the zone and trying to get ground balls. We lead the SEC and are probably somewhere around the top in the country in double plays turned. We turned four or five just this past weekend. They know if they can get a ground ball, then we have an excellent chance. We’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the basics on defense and they have gotten a lot better. Really it’s the repetition and the idea of going out there and picking your hops. We’re a lot smarter defensively and we’re you’re smarter defensively, you pick better hops, which enhances the opportunities of being successful. We’re not caught in between. It’s just one of those things where knowledge is power. The more knowledge we’re getting, the more things we’re able to do and it’s speaking volumes for our defense.”

Head coach Clint Myers on how his team’s mindset has changed throughout the course of the season:
“They’re a very good club. They’re pretty much even, right where we are in the middle of the pack. They won three last weekend against Mississippi State, where we only took two against the same team. We should’ve had three, but we let it slip away. From here on out, there are no easy games. If we’re going to play quality teams, we’re going to play quality softball.”

Head coach Clint Myers on the attendance of the fans this season and the boost they have given his team:
“Having almost 1,000 fans here just a couple of weeks ago and hearing them cheer was huge for us. The players were peeking up over the dugout and saying ‘Do you see how many people are here?’ It’s something that we talk about. When you put a good product on the field with great hustle and interaction afterwards, people want to come see them. We tell everybody, we want this to be their team. It’s about all those things. The interaction, the quality of the product. The product, itself, off the field and what we represent and stand for: good kids, smart kids, community-interactive kids. We want to give something back to the community. Not just a pride factor that we’re winning, but that we’re out there and playing for you as much as we’re playing for ourselves.”

Branndi Melero – Jr. – Canyon Country, Calif.
-Went 4-for-10 (.400) last weekend, including one home run in game two of the Florida series that helped Auburn start its four-run third inning.
--Currently on an eight-game hitting streak with 10 total hits and 10 RBI during the stretch.
--Has led the SEC in RBI since Feb. 17, accounting for seven-straight weeks.
--60 RBI for the year is already second-most in a season by an Auburn player in program history.
--Currently hitting .436 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 16 games.
--Hit her 10th home run of the year in game two of the series with 6th-ranked Florida. Second on the team.
--Currently slugging .782, best on the squad and fourth in the conference.
--Has yet to make an error after starting all 38 games in right field.
--In conference play, Melero is hitting. 353 with 18 RBI and five home runs. Both the home run and RBI totals lead the team through the first 12 games of SEC play.

Emily Carosone – So. – Orlando, Fla.  
--Leads team in on-base percentage (.582) to go along with 23 hit by pitches and 39 hits.
--The on-base percentage is good for second in the nation to Alabama’s Haylie McCleney (.624)
--The 23 hit by pitches is a new Auburn single-season record. Carosone had three in last week’s series with Florida to pass Myesha Finney, who had 21 during the 2009 season.
--This year’s HBP total is tops in the conference and the country.
--Just under the .400 average for the season at .398 with 52 runs scored and 25 RBI.
--Her 52 runs scored is good for second on the team and the conference, only trailing teammate Morgan Estell, who has 53 this year.
--Only had one hit in the series with Florida last week, but reached base four times with one run scored.

Morgan Estell – R-Jr. – Kimberly, Ala.
--Had one hit in each game of the series with No. 6 Florida last week.
--Currently batting .381 on the season, fourth-best on the team and just above her finishing average from a season ago.
--Leads team in extra base-hits (19) with 15 doubles and four home runs. Her doubles per game (0.37) ranks third nationally.
--Batting .314 in conference play with 11 hits and two doubles. She’s drawn seven walks in 12 SEC games, good for a tie for the team-lead.
--With runners on, Estell is batting .451, second on the team to Kasey Cooper (.467), going 37-for-82 this year, overall.
--Currently on a four-game hit streak and has at least one hit in 15 of her last 16 games. During that span, she has tallied 22 hits.

The Tigers suffered their first conference series loss of the 2014 season after being swept by No. 6 Florida in three games to fall to 31-9-1 on the year. The three losses came right after the game three loss to Kentucky a week ago and have given Auburn four-straight losses, its longest losing streak of the year. The Orange and Blue had a 2-1 lead on the Gators late in the sixth inning of game one, but starting pitcher Lexi Davis gave up three runs in the bottom of the sixth to allow Florida to creep back in and take the first game, 4-2 victory. Game two, which was televised on ESPNU, saw a nice back-and-forth contest between the two teams. The Gators had a 4-0 lead after two innings, but Auburn batted its way back, getting home runs from Branndi Melero and McKenzie Kilpatrick, to tie the game at 4-4. UF continued to pull ahead with home runs of their own, but each time, Auburn tied the game. Unfortunately, Florida’s two runs in the fifth would be the final lead change, even though Auburn scored one in the top of the 7th to cut the lead to one. Florida won the series with its 7-6 victory on Saturday. Sunday’s final game was a contest of pitchers as Hannah Rogers and Davis both battled to a scoreless draw into extras. The Gators broke through with a run in the bottom of the eighth off Davis to finish the sweep.

The top five of the batting order for Auburn including: sophomore Emily Carosone, redshirt junior Morgan Estell, freshman Kasey Cooper, junior Branndi Melero and sophomore Jade Rhodes have been a major part of the Tigers offensive surge this season. Until the last two weeks, it was the top-four of Auburn’s order that held the gaudy numbers, but the emergence of Rhodes has now made it a big-five offensively. As a unit, the top five of the Auburn order have hit .379 with 35 homers and 209 RBI. That means over 60 percent of Auburn’s long balls and 67 percent of its RBI have come from these five players. All but Estell and Rhodes have a batting average currently over .400, while Melero and Cooper both lead the conference in RBI (60 and 55 respectively). Rhodes has jumped in the fray lately hitting .246 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 this year.

Last weekend wasn’t ideal for the Auburn Tigers, but the national polls didn’t punish the team after playing the early season favorite Florida Gators in all three games of their series. The Gators defeated the Tigers in a three-game set by a combined four runs last week and placed Auburn No. 20 in the NFCA/Coaches’ poll and No. 21 in the latest Softball poll. The Tigers were No. 19 in both polls going into their series with the Gators and have been ranked for the last five weeks this season. In its history, Auburn’s highest ranking of No. 17 came in 2006.

With only seven games remaining in the home schedule for Auburn, the fans have come out in droves to witness the first season for the Tigers under Clint Myers. Even with the new ticket policy to come watch Auburn softball, fans have continued to take notice of the team’s strong play this season. Nearly 14,000 people have already attended an Auburn softball game this season, averaging just under 500 fans per game (497). The largest crowd this season was 983 in the second game of the three-game series with Mississippi State, which was the last weekend Auburn was home for a conference series.

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 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.

Junior Branndi Melero has been having one of her best collegiate seasons this year and continued that play with a four-hit, one home run weekend in three games against No. 6 Florida last week. Melero went 4-for-10 over the series with one run scored and one long ball. The home run, was part of Auburn’s four-run third inning that tied the game with Florida the first time and was a big momentum boost for the Tigers. Melero is currently second on the team in average (.436) and first in RBI (60). Her RBI total currently still leads the Southeastern Conference, which she has done since conference play began. Nationally, Melero has risen near the top as she is second to Florida State’s Maddie O’Brien (63). She has also already passed her total from a season ago (46) and is only five RBI away from the single-season Auburn record for RBI in a season held by Holly Currie when she had 65 RBI in the 2005 season.