Auburn Softball Preview: No. 20 Tigers Finish Off Regular Season With Trip To Kentucky
NO. 20 AUBURN AT KENTUCKY
April 30, May 1 * Lexington, Ky. * UK Softball Complex
Game Notes | Live Audio | Live Stats
Auburn Rolls Into Kentucky To End Regular Season Auburn takes its final regular season trip by heading to Lexington for a three-game series with Kentucky. The Tigers are fresh off two straight series sweeps over conference opponents, including wins over No. 16 Florida at Jane B. Moore Field.
The Wildcats are losers of four straight, losing in three to Arkansas and falling to Louisville, 6-0, on Wednesday. Kentucky has a 19-36 overall record including a 3-20 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
Auburn holds a 14-7 all-time series lead over the Wildcats, with the teams splitting 10 total games in Lexington. The Tigers have won nine straight over Kentucky, including a 9-1, five-inning victory over the Wildcats this season on Feb. 5 at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic in Miami.
Catch the games live on the Internet at www.auburntigers.com with Nathan Ealy calling all three. Those in the Auburn area can also listen live on the radio at WANI-AM (1400).
Things To Note For Auburn Softball
* Auburn's 45 victories this season are a program-record, surpassing the 2004 club which went 42-18.
* The Tigers closed out their regular season home schedule against Florida. Auburn went 25-3 at Jane B. Moore Field this season, the best single-season win total in school history. It betters the 2000 and 2002 clubs, which both won 21 games at home.
* Auburn clubbed four home runs in the series victory over Florida, giving the Tigers 60 this season. That extends the team's program-record and is tied for the third most in SEC history with the 2004 LSU club.
* Beth DiPietro and Holly Currie are the first Auburn duo to win 20 games in the same season. DiPietro achieved the 20-win plateau against Tennessee on April 10. Currie went 2-0 against Florida over the weekend for the 20-win mark.
* Currie needs two more RBI (she has 57) to break into the SEC single-season top 10.
Sweeping Another Series
Just two days after sweeping LSU, the Tigers were back at it, taking three-straight from Florida at Jane B. Moore Field.
Auburn came-from-behind in two of the three games for their first sweep of Florida since winning two at home on April 18, 1999. Kristina McCain hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning of game one as Auburn posted its first comeback victory of the series with a 5-3 win. The win pushed Auburn to 43 this season -- at the time -- setting a school record.
The Tigers then swept a doubleheader from Florida on Wednesday. Holly Currie hit her 15th home run of the season in the first game as the Tigers held off a late Gator offensive rally for a 6-4 win. Beth DiPietro earned her third save of the season in the victory.
Finally, topping off the series, Currie threw in relief of DiPietro and earned her 20th victory of the season. Paige Jones hit her 11th home run of the season and the Tigers scored three in the sixth, buoyed by three Florida errors. The series sweep gave Auburn its fourth of the season and second in a week.
Currie Named SEC Pitcher Of The Week
Sophomore Holly Currie posted two wins and a save in Auburn's sweep of LSU and was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week Monday. It marks her first ever conference weekly honor and the second this season for the Tigers after Sara Dean was named Player of the Week on April 4.
Holly Currie and Beth DiPietro are the first Auburn pitchers to record 20 wins or more in the same season. In fact, they are just the second and third pitchers to reach the 20-win plateau in Auburn history. Kristen Keyes did it twice, winning 21 in 2002 and 27 in 2004.
Together, Currie and DiPietro have combined to go 42-13. They've started a combined 54 games this season, or 93 percent of the team's games. They've also combined for eight saves this season, just one shy of tying Auburn's single-season record.
Doing The Little Things
Much has been said about Auburn's ability to use the long ball to its advantage this season. Granted, hitting 60 home runs has put the Tigers in the SEC record book, and that's to be expected. However, the Tigers have also been doing the little things right: Using fundamentals and speed.
Auburn has topped school records in a number of less-than-publicized (read: less glamorous) offensive categories this season. The team has 16 triples this season, far surpassing the previous record of seven set in 1997 and 2004. Auburn has walked 176 times this season, 20 more than the 156 times it earned a free pass in 2002. And finally, the Tigers have hit 18 sacrifice flies, besting the previous high of 13 in 2000. All of that, combined with home runs, of course, have led to the Tigers scoring 324 runs this season, blasting the 284 in 1999 and 2001 out of the water. And the team still has three regular season, two (at least) SEC Tournament and other potential NCAA Regional games to be played.
It's A Guarantee
Auburn is one of five teams entering the weekend that has already clinched a berth into the SEC Tournament. What is at stake over the weekend will be seeding for the annual conference tournament. The Tigers are currently third and stretched that lead by sweeping Florida. That puts the Tigers in a first-round matchup with Mississippi State, whom Auburn took 2-of-3 from in Starkville earlier this season.
It would mark Auburn's highest seed in the SEC Tournament. The Tigers were the fourth seed last season and went 3-2, making it to the tournament's final day.
Auburn's 45-13 record is by far the team's best record in nine years. The Tigers set a single-season win record by defeating Florida in the first game, then extended it with the doubleheader sweep. While its the team's best record, it's far off the SEC record of 66 victories set in 2000 by Alabama.
Batting Those 'Cats
Auburn is on a nine-game win streak against Kentucky, punctuated at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic in Miami earlier this season. Auburn and Kentucky are tied, 5-5, all-time in Lexington, although the Tigers swept Kentucky in 2003, taking three straight at the UK Softball Complex.
The Tigers have especially enjoyed hitting against Kentucky. Currently players sport a combined .377 batting average against the Wildcats. Senior Sara Dean has played 10 games against Kentucky and is batting .412 with six doubles, two home runs and 12 RBI. Sara Ghezzi, in four games against Kentucky, is 5-for-11 with two RBI.
The three pitchers on Auburn's staff have gone a combined 14 1/3 innings against the 'Cats, allowing just one unearned run while allowing four hits and striking out 10.
In Auburn's defeat of Kentucky earlier this season, Sara Dean hit her first home run of the season and Beth DiPietro went four innings for her first victory of the season.
The Tigers won their first shortened game of the season in defeating Kentucky, 9-1. The game lasted five innings at the Diamond Fun & Sun Classic and pulled the Tigers to a 2-1 record. Auburn has had an overall winning record ever since.
Lolani Alvarez also had three hits in the win, singling twice and doubling in the second inning. She scored two runs and drove in one of her own.
Reaching Double Digits
Sophomore Sara Ghezzi is on a career-high 10-game hit streak, the second longest on the team behind Kristina McCain's 12-gamer earlier this season. During that span, which dates back to Auburn's 6-1 victory over Tennessee on April 10, Ghezzi is 14-for-30 (.467) with three doubles, one home run and three RBI.
The Best At Home
Auburn finished the 2005 regular season with a 25-3 home record, the best mark in program history. The 25 wins surpassed the 2000 and 2002 clubs, which both won 21 games at the friendly confines. The 2004 club, which previous to this season had the best overall record of any Auburn club, went 19-5 at home. Now, in nine seasons, the Tigers have amassed a 129-89-1 record at home. That amounts to a .589 winning percentage, which jumped more than 40 points since the start of the season.
Currie Makes The List
Auburn sophomore Holly Currie was named by the Amateur Softball Association April 6 as one of the top 25 finalists for the 2005 USA Softball Collegiate Division I Player of the Year.
Currie is one of five SEC players to make the final 25, and the only Tiger. The list will dwindle from 25 to 10 on May 10, then to three on May 31. The winner of the 2005 award -- the fourth year in a row the award will be handed out -- will be announced during the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., in June.
Deese Needs Just Seven More
Auburn head coach Tina Deese is seven victories shy of 300 at Auburn. If she's able to get the seven victories this season, she will become just the third active SEC coach with 300 or more victories at their current school. Only Alabama's Pat Murphy and South Carolina's Joyce Compton currently hold that distinction.