April 24, 2014
Auburn's Branndi Melero has been a driving force in Auburn's success this season (Lauren Barnard photo)
|No. 22 Auburn Softball vs. No. 23 Texas A&M|
|Matchup||No. 22 Auburn (34-14-1, 7-11 SEC) vs. No. 23 Texas A&M (31-17, 9-12 SEC) | Game Notes|
|Dates & Times||Friday, April 25, Saturday, April 26, Sunday, April 27; 6 p.m., 1 p.m., 1 p.m.|
|Location||Jane B. Moore Field (1,500) | Directions|
|Tickets||Auburn Ticket Information|
|Broadcasts||Radio: WEGL 91.1|
|Online||Live Audio | Live Video | Live Stats | Twitter: @AuburnTigersSB|
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Branndi Melero says she tells her mom her goals before every softball season, but even the Auburn outfielder didn't think to discuss an all-time RBI record in this year's chat.
Melero set Auburn's single-season RBI record at Georgia last weekend — now at 66 and counting — and will be looking for more when the Tigers open a weekend series against Texas A&M at 6 p.m. Friday at Jane B. Moore Field.
Of course, she's already in the record books.
"Honestly," Melero said, "I didn't really expect this one."
But here she sits, with 12 homers, with a team-best .422 batting average and those SEC-best 66 RBIs.
"It just goes to show you can't set any record without your teammates, and I'm really glad to have teammates who got on base for me and was there for me to score runs," Melero said.
"Hopefully," says coach Clint Myers, "she's going to set the record quite high, because that makes my life a lot easier. We'd love to see her get to 100, because that means she's got a lot of opportunities to drive people in."
It's been a turnaround season for Melero and Auburn. She hit .366 with 46 RBIs last season.
"Branndi is a great player," Myers said. "She has a lot better numbers than she did last year, and that's because she's listened, she's been very coachable, she's trying to do the things we talk about on a daily basis. She's made great strides. She's going to be a great leader next year as a senior.
Melero has hit third in a lineup that has been productive at the top.
"The Top 4, we've all been consistent," Melero said. "It helps the team build confidence. If we go up there and show we can hit the pitcher, it shows confidence for confidence for everybody else in the lineup that she's hittable and anybody can go out there and hit off her."
It added up to a fast start in SEC play.
"He wants us to play smart softball. He wants us to play Auburn softball," she said. "That starts with practices. He always tells us your game comes from your practices, and the game should be easier than your practice.
"Practice is harder than the game because they provide a lot more stress. During the game, they allow you to do it."
The Tigers will take a 34-14-1 overall record and 7-11 SEC mark against the Aggies, who are 31-17 overall and 9-12 in the league. For Auburn, it's time to solidify its RPI, which now at No. 20.
Auburn, despite a tough three weeks, has three more wins than last season with at least eight more games, but likely more, to play.
"I don't think anything has changed since the first day, other than the fact we've gotten better," Myers said. "We're not going to make any excuses. Do we have the capabilities to go out and winning? Most definitely."
Auburn's RPI is high playing in the rough-and-tumble SEC where nine of its teams are ranked in that standard's Top 25. The Tigers are pointing to the NCAA play.
"There are some very good teams. Look at the RPIs," Myers said. "There are six teams in the Top 10. You're playing good competition every weekend. We've got to go out and be on the same playing field as those other teams. We're moving in that direction.
"I told the girls, 'This is when we start playing our best softball.' There's something on the line.
"We're playing good competition. We've got a good record. We've just got to do a better job staying consistent."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine