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Auburn Softball vs Georgia Preview

Auburn Softball vs Georgia Preview

No. 22 Auburn vs. No. 7 Georgia
Saturday - 2 p.m. CDT at Jane B. Moore Field (DH)
Sunday - Noon CDT at Jane B. Moore Field

PDF Version of Notes

Auburn coach Tina Deese previews the weekend series between No. 22 Auburn and No. 7 Georgia

"Georgia is an extremely strong offensive team. They are very fast and put the ball in play well.

At the top of their line up they have Nicole Barber, followed by Katie Lewis. Both of those players do a great job of getting on base for Kim Wendland, who is one of the best hitters in the country. But what makes Georgia so good is the fact that if the top of the line up doesn't produce, the bottom half still can. Every player in their order, from one to nine, can hit for extra bases. That is what makes them so good."

On going up against three tough pitchers

"We've faced a lot of live pitching this week. We've hit against our four good pitchers as much as we could to prepare for this weekend. But it will still be a challenge. Katie Griffith throws the ball extremely hard and Kasi Carroll works well at keeping the ball down in the strike zone. And of course, they still have Michelle Green, who is one of the best pitchers in this league. As a team, we'll have to get some runners on and use our short game to help us out and get some timely hits."

On playing against the defending SEC champs

"I think the players view this weekend as a great opportunity. They have been very upbeat this week in practice. They are very loose heading into the games and are going to go out and play hard and give it everything they've got. But they know its going to take an awful lot to take the series. We definitely see it as an opportunity for us to make some noise against the No. 7 team in the nation."

Auburn Game Notes vs. Georgia

Auburn Ranked for Three Consecutive Weeks

On March 16, the 2004 Auburn softball team made history. On that day, the Tigers recieved the first ranking in school history from the Softball Poll. Auburn came in at No. 25 after receiving votes for four weeks prior to that. Since then, the Tigers have fallen from the ranks only to bounce back and earn a top 25 spot for three straight weeks. Currently, Auburn is No. 22 in the NFCA/USA Today poll and No. 25 in the Softball poll.

Tigers in Midst of Most Successful Season Ever

At 30-10, Auburn is in the midst of the best season in school history. Previously, the best record by a Tiger team through 40 games was 23-17 by both the 2000 and 2001 squads. The 2002 team was 22-18 through 40 games and finished 38-27 and earned the only NCAA Tournament berth in school history.

Auburn is also enjoying the more success than it ever has in SEC play. At 11-7, the Tigers have reached 10 conference wins throuth 18 games for the first time in school history.

Against the Ranks

Auburn will square off with its fourth ranked opponent in the past five series this weekend when it meets seventh-ranked Georgia. The Bulldogs are the highest ranked team the Tigers have faced this year. Auburn is 4-5 against ranked foes on the season.

Auburn has not fared well in its history against ranked teams The Tigers are 18-87-1 all time against ranked foes, including an 4-32 mark against teams in the top 10. The Tigers have won just two SEC series against a ranked team, going 2-16-1 in them. The wins came sweeps of Alabama and South Carolina in 2002 and 2004, respectively. The tie was a two-game split with the Gamecocks in 2000. Here is a look at how Auburn has fared against the ranks in 2004:

Date AU Opp. Opponent Result POR*

March 27 RV 15 South Carolina W, 1-0 Keyes

March 27 RV 15 South Carolina W, 5-1 Currie

March 28 RV 15 South Carolina W, 6-5 Keyes

March 30 RV 19 Florida L, 2-1 Keyes

March 30 RV 19 Florida L, 3-0 Currie

March 31 22 17 Florida L, 11-3 Keyes

April 9 23 12 Tennessee L, 3-0 DiPietro

April 9 23 12 Tennessee W, 5-1 Keyes

April 10 23 12 Tennessee L, 4-0 Keyes

* denotes Auburn's pitcher of record in the game

Tough Stretch

After not facing a ranked opponent in its first 27 games, Auburn's schedule has become increasingly difficult. Of the Tigers past 13 games, nine have been against ranked foes while the next nine are as well. Auburn is currently in a stretch where four straight three-game series come against top 15 teams. Once the regular season ends, Auburn will have played 20 of its final 27 games against teams ranked in the top 20.

Defensive Prowess

The saying goes "Defense Wins Championships." If that's the case, then Auburn is in good shape. The Tigers rank third in the SEC in fielding percentage at .973 and have been even better in conference games, ranking second a .976 percentage. The Tigers .973 mark ranks eighth in the nation.

Auburn has committed just five errors in their last 10 games. The Tigers also had a six-game errorless streak earlier this year, which is twice as long as any streak from last year. It beats out two five-game streaks from 2002 for the longest in school history.

Getting Even

After taking three games from South Carolina, Auburn's all-time record improved to 232-232-1 as the Tigers hit at the .500 mark for the first time since the third game of the 1998 season. However, being .500 didn't last long as Auburn dropped its next three games and are now two games below .500 (236-238-1) all time.

Nearing 50

Kristen Keyes goes for yet another career milestone this weekend as she attempts to get her 50th career victory. The Clearwater, Fla., native began the year with 33 victories and has amassed 16 this year to come within one of the mark. She will go for No. 50 this weekend against Georgia, a team that she is 0-4 against all-time.

500 ... 600 ... and Counting

On April 7, Auburn's Kristen Keyes reached the 600-career strikeout plateau with her 14-K performance against Troy State. She is just the 10th player in SEC history to reach the mark. She also passed Arkansas' Rachel Tally for ninth in conference annals with her 609th strikeout.

Strangely enough, Keyes reached the 500-strikeout milestone against the Trojans as well. On March 2, she recorded her 500th career strikout in the first inning of a 10-K performance that was also a no-hitter.

KK, the K artist

Kristen Keyes is averaging 9.9 strikeouts per seven innings and has a season high of 14 three times this year. Her 9.9 mark ranks 11th in the nation this season. She has struck out at least 10 batters 10 times. At one point between the UAB game and the Cal-State Northridge contest, she recorded 14 straight outs via strikeout and 19-of-21.

Keyes is striking out at least one batter in better than 75 percent of her innings pitched and two or more in nearly 40 percent of them. Earlier this year, she had a streak of at least one strike out in 30 consecutive innings and a streak of 44 strikeouts without allowing a walk.

Dean's Consistent at Plate

Sara Dean has been one of the most consistent hitters in the SEC this year. The Valencia, Calif., native has a hit in 33 of Auburn's 40 games and recently had a 15-game hitting streak. The streak is the second longest in the conference this year.

Currently, Dean has a .432 batting average which is third best in the league. Earlier this year, she had a streak of not sriking out in 68 consecutive at bats.

Currie Spells Double Trouble for Opponents

Freshman Holly Currie has proven to be a threat both in the circle and at the plate this year. The Pisgah, Ala., native is 8-1 with a 1.77 earned-run average in 14 appearances. She has 70 strikeouts in 60.2 innings and is allowing opponents to bat just .175 off her. She has thrown a pair of one-hitters this year as well.

At the plate, Currie bats clean up and is hitting .330 with eight doubles and three home runs. Her .500 slugging percentage and 19 RBIs rank second and third on the team, respevtively.

Freshmen are Key Contributors

This year's highly touted freshman class has not disappointed halfway through the season. Five freshmen have started a combined 164 games this season while freshman right fielder Sara Ghezzi has started all 40. Ghezzi is batting .255 on the year with two game-winning hits (Sacramento State, Arkansas).

In the circle, Holly Currie and Beth DiPietro have combined to go 13-2 and earn three saves. Currie also bats leadoff and is hitting .330 with 11 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs.

Third baseman Kristina McCain and Lauren Walton, who have started 38 games each, have been solid as well. McCain is hitting .257 while Walton is at a .230 clip. McCain had a team-season high with four hits against Wichita State on Feb. 7.

Ghezzi Steps it Up in SEC Play

If freshman Sara Ghezzi is intimidated by SEC pitchers, she sure doesn't show it. The Miami, Fla., native is batting .306 in conference action, more than 100 points better than the .204 she hit in non-conference contests. Of her six extra-base hits this year, five have come in league games, including her first career home run at Tennessee on April 9. She also drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning in a 1-0 Auburn win at Arkansas.

McCain Plays it Cool at the Hot Corner

Kristina McCain may look like a veteran at while playing third base, but the true freshman is playing the position for the first time in her entire softball career this season. She routinely makes the tough plays look easy and has committed just four errors all year.

McCain ranks second in the conference in fielding percentage for third sackers with a .960 clip. That mark is also the best in SEC history for a freshman third baseman.

Anderson At It Again

Auburn's career leader for stolen bases, Shannon Anderson, has been in midseason form since the year began. The Laguna Niguel, Calif., native tied a school record by swiping three bases against Illinois State on Jan. 30. She has 24 stolen bases so far this year on 28 attempts. The 24 has already set a new single-season school record.

Anderson took over the Auburn career stolen base lead against LSU on April 26 last year by stealing her 38th base. In 2002, she stole 21 bases to initially set the school single-season record and she had 19 last year, which is tied for third on that list.

No Hitting Tiger Pitching

Hitting Auburn's pitching this year is proving to be very tough for opponents. The Tigers have held their opponents to three or fewer hits, including three no-hitters, in 23-of-40 games so far this season.

Auburn is allowing its opponents to hit just .153 so far led by Kristen Keyes' .136 clip, which is second best in the SEC. The Tigers other two starters also keep opponents well below the Mendoza line as Beth DiPietro and Holly Currie allow .172 and .175 averages, respectively.

Even when opponents do get that rare hit, it doesn't get them very far. Only 38 hits off Auburn pitchers have been for extra bases with just six being home runs.

Leadoff Success

Auburn has been wildly successful at getting the leadoff runner on base this year. Through 13 games, the Tigers on-base percentage from the leadoff position is .367 (95-of-259). Holly Currie reaches at a .500 clip when starting an inning while Kristina McCain gets on at a .423 rate when leading off. Auburn has been successful when getting the leadoff runner on, scoring 53.7 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, opponents reach at just a .277 clip. Even when getting the leadoff runner on, opponents score just 27.5 percent of the time.

Magic Number Five

Auburn's magic number since the beginning of the 2003 season seems to be five. The Tigers are 48-17 since then, including 25-5 this year, when reaching five hits in a game. Auburn is even better when scoring at least five runs. The Tigers hit the five-run plateau 28 times since the beginning of last year and won each time. They have won all 17 games this year when they have scored at least five runs. The last time Auburn lost when scoring five runs was nearly two years ago, on April 27, 2002, when it fell to Kentucky, 8-5.

Quick Strikes

Auburn has started the year by starting quickly on its opponents. The Tigers have scored in the first or second inning in 23-of-40 games so far, including 15 times in the first inning. In the first three innings of games, the Tigers are outscoring their opponent 89-18.

Comeback Cats

Auburn hasn't trailed often this year, but when it has, it has often found a way to comeback. The Tigers trailed UAB through four innings before rallying for a 4-3 win. Sacramento State led through five innings before allowing a five-run sixth. Birmingham-Southern held a lead through three innings only to have Auburn come back for a 3-1 win.

11-Game Win Streak Set School Record

Auburn had its 11-game win streak snapped when it lost to Ole Miss. However, the streak set a new school record, breaking the nine-game streak that opened the 2002 season. Earlier this year, Auburn strung together seven straight wins, which is now the third longest streak in school annals.

Auburn's No-Hit Day is SEC First

On March 20, the Auburn softball team did something no other SEC team has ever done. The Tigers no-hit a conference opponent, Ole Miss, in back-to-back games of a doubleheader. Kristen Keyes got Auburn started by striking out 10 without allowing a hit through seven innings. Beth DiPietro followed immediately with a five-inning no-hitter in which she struck out three and faced the minimum 15 batters.

Tigers Enter Uncharted Territory at USC

With its three-game sweep of South Carolina, the Auburn softball team entered a very exclusive club. In fact it's a club of one. The Tigers became the first team to sweep the Gamecocks in a series at Beckham Field since the league went to three-game sets in 2001. Auburn is just the second team overall to take three of USC in that span.

Shutout Streak Sets Records

Auburn's run of six straight shutouts was the longest in school annals and tied the SEC record set earlier this year by Alabama. The streak was part of a 52.2 scoreless-inning run that is the longest in league history by 11 innings. Ole Miss snapped the steak with a three-run sixth inning on March 21.

Pitcher Kristen Keyes is also familiar with scoreless inning streaks as she had a 41.1 inning run that was snapped against Ole Miss. The streak is the second longest in the SEC this year.

Auburn Wins Three Straight SEC Series for First Time

For the first time in school history, Auburn won back-to-back-to-back conference series. The Tigers swept Arkansas before taking two of three from Ole Miss. Auburn then swept No. 15 South Carolina for its third consecutive series victory.

The streak was snapped when the Tigers lost all three games of a three-game series to Florida at the end of March.

Long Week

Auburn recently completed an eight-day, nine-game swing by taking two of three from Mississippi State. The Tigers opened the stretch with a three-game sweep of No. 15 South Carolina before making the six-hour trip from Columbia, S.C., to Gainesville, Fla. There, Auburn dropped three straight to No. 17 Florida. After Wednesday night's series finale, Auburn boarded the bus and headed home to prepare for the Friday/Saturday series with the Bulldogs.

Dean Named Sec Player of the Week

In three games from March 27-28, Sara Dean batted .700 to lead Auburn to a sweep of No. 15 South Carolina en route to SEC Player of the Week honors.

The Auburn offense faced pitchers ranked second and third in the conference in ERA. It didn't faze Dean. The Valencia, Calif., native pounded Stacey Johnson and Aleca Johnson for a combined 5-for-8 en route to a 7-for-10 weekend. She was 4-for-4 with runners in scoring position. She tied a career high twice on the weekend with a pair of three hit games.

Dean earned the honor for the second time in her career having also won the award on April 1, 2002. She is the 17th player in conference history * the third from Auburn * to take home Player of the Week honors twice in a career.

Keyes Throws No-No Again

Senior Kristen Keyes threw her third no-hitter of the season and the second since SEC play started in the opening game of the South Carolina series. The Clearwater, Fla., native struck out 10 and walked one in the effort. She has also no-hit Troy State and Ole Miss this year. Prior to the 2004 campaign, Keyes had hurled just one no-no, a nine-inning performance against Georgia Tech last year.

Keyes Named SEC Pitcher of the Week

On March 8, Kristen Keyes was named SEC Pitcher of the Week for hurling a no-hitter against Troy State. It was the second no-hitter of her career and the fifth in Auburn history.

She also picked up the 500th strikeout of her career in the game, making her just the 12th player in SEC history to hit the milestone.

It is the fourth time that Keyes has been named SEC Pitcher of the Week as she took home the honor twice in 2002 and once last year. She is just the 10th player in conference history to win a Player of the Week award at least four times in a career.

The Record Breaker

Freshman pitcher Holly Currie has had a knack for breaking records in her softball career. By scrolling through the Alabama High School Fastpitch Softball record book, you will find the Pisgah, Ala., native's name 49 times among the career and single season leaders. She holds eight Alabama high school single-season records and 12 career records.

Her records come both in the circle and at the plate. She owns career batting records for hits, doubles, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored and walks. She also ranks second in state history in triples and third in batting average. Her career pitching marks are for wins, innings, strikeouts, earned-run average, shutouts and no-hitters.

Currie's career RBI record came at the expense of current teammate Paige Jones. Currie also stopped Jones bid for the single-season RBI record in 2000 when she drove in 80 runs to Jones' 79. Two years later, Currie set a new mark of 85 RBI, which still stands.

Deese gets 500th career win

Auburn head coach Tina Deese picked up her 500th career win on Feb. 13 when Auburn beat Austin Peay 6-2. Deese notched her first 286 wins at Huntingdon College in Montgomery before winning 214 at Auburn in her first seven-plus seasons. She is in her 16th year of coaching overall.

Auburn wins Tiger Invitational

Auburn won its third consecutive Tiger Invitational championship by going 5-0 in the tournament that included Furman, Evansville and Austin Peay. The Tigers beat Evansville, 8-0, in the final. Auburn won all three of its round robin games before knocking off Furman in the first round of bracket play. Auburn outscored its opponents 33-4 in the five games.

Keyes sets new Auburn Career Wins Mark

Senior Kristen Keyes broke the Auburn record for career wins on Feb. 13 when she earned the victory in Auburn's 7-0 win over Evansville. She entered the game in the fourth inning and pitched four scoreless innings to earn the victory. Keyes also owns Auburn career marks for innings pitched, saves, strikeouts, earned-run average and batting average against.

On the Radar Gun

Auburn's 1-2 punch in the circle of Kristen Keyes and Holly Currie is a powerful one. Both hurlers are known for power pitching and can throw some serious heat. Keyes has been clocked at 66 miles per hour with her fastball while the freshman Currie can hit 68 mph.

Those numbers are the equivalent to a baseball pitcher throwing 93 and 96 mph, respectively. Here is a look at how some softball pitch speeds translate to a baseball pitch:

Pitch Speed (43 ft.) Baseball Equivalent (60 ft. 6 in.)

60 84

62 87

64 90

66 93

68 96

70 98

The Newcomers

Auburn's recruiting class for the 2004 season is the most highly decorated in school history. Among the group is one Miss Softball, two Gatorade State Players of the Year, four high school All-Americans and one college All-American. Two of the newcomers have also been featured in Sports Illustrated. Here is a list of newcomers and their major accolades:

Lolani Alvarez (transfer) Easton first-team All-America

Co-MVP of Orange Empire Conference

Holly Currie Miss Softball of Alabama

Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year

two-time All-America

featured in Sports Illustrated (9/1/03)

Beth DiPietro Florida Gatorade Player of the Year

FHSAA State Player of the Year

Student Sports first-team All-America

two-time Miss Softball of Florida runner up

featured in Sports Illustrated (3/18/02)

Sara Ghezzi NFCA second-team All-America

NFCA first-team All-South Region

Lauren Walton NFCA second-team All-America

NFCA first-team All-South Region (2003)

NFCA second-team All-South Region (2002)



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