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Auburn Softball 2003 SEC Tournament Preview

Auburn Softball Preview

Auburn Tigers (26-29) at SEC Tournament 

May 8-11, 2003  • Plant City, FL

First Round Matchup...Auburn visited Alabama earlier this season for a three-game series from April 2-3 and was swept by the Crimson Tide, 2-1, 4-0 and 4-0. Martha Phillips was 5-for-8 with a double in the series, while Deni Zeigler picked up one RBI. Janet Spivey started games one and three for Auburn and went 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA, allowing five runs and 11 hits in 8.1 innings. Kristen Keyes started game two and held the Tide scoreless into the sixth inning, before giving up four runs, only two of which were earned, for the loss. Keyes also made a relief appearance in game three in which she gave up one run and four hits in 3.2 innings. Alabama used three different starters in the series, but Erin Wright picked up two wins with three scoreless innings in relief of Jen Wright in game one and a complete game shutout in game two, as she totaled no walks and 11 strikeouts in the two games. Stephanie VanBrakle earned the win on Sunday with six scoreless innings. VanBrakle also had a home run in the game, while Ashley Courtney was 4-for-8 with three RBI in the series for Alabama.

Auburn In The SEC Tournament...Auburn has compiled a record of 5-8 in the SEC Tournament after having competed in it four out of six years in its history. During that time, the Tigers have faced Alabama twice and are 1-1, with the Crimson Tide being the last team Auburn faced in the 2002 tournament. Alabama won 5-4 on the strength of a grand slam by Jackie McClain in the sixth inning.

Sweeps...The LSU series marked the third conference series in which Auburn has been swept this season, but the first at home. The other two occasions were at Georgia and at Alabama. The Tigers have done the sweeping against two SEC opponents, at Ole Miss and at Kentucky.

Double Digits...When LSU scored 10 runs in the game on April 27, it marked the first time in 17 games Auburn pitching had allowed double-figure runs. The last time was March 29 when South Carolina scored 12, and it has only happened one other time this season when Georgia scored 10 on March 8.

Long Ball...LSU’s five home runs on April 27 tied the Auburn record for home runs allowed in a game. The last team to record five was Alabama on April 3, 1999.

Angulo Going Yard...Kasey Angulo doubled her season total in home runs by hitting two in the LSU series. She now has four after hitting nine last season.

Career Stolen Base Leader...With her stolen base against LSU on April 26, Shannon Anderson took sole possesion of the Auburn all-time stolen base record with her 38th, passing Chris Steiner.

17s...Auburn now has a four-way tie for the lead in RBI as Ashley Griffin, Sara Dean, Deni Zeigler and Paige Jones each have 17. Kasey Angulo is just behind at 16.

No, No...Kristen Keyes and Georgia Tech’s Jessica Sallinger pitched an amazing game by both taking no hitters into the 10th inning of a scoreless game on April 23. Sallinger had a perfect game and Keyes’ only mistake was one hit batter before Shannon Anderson picked up the only hit for either team and the winning RBI. Keyes became the fourth Auburn pitcher to throw a no-hitter.

Close Calls...Auburn has participated in 15 one-run games this season and is 9-6, while it is 7-1 in extra innings.

Magic Five...Auburn has reached the five-hit mark only once in its last six games, in game two against LSU on April 26. However it was not enough as the Tigers lost, 5-4. They are now 22-11 when reaching five hits.

Another Five...Even better than their record of 22-11 when the Tigers reach five hits, when they score five or more runs, they are 11-0 for the season.

Making The Switch...Martha Phillips has now started 16 games at third base and Ashley Griffin has started 19 straight at short after being reversed most of the season. Prior to the switch, they were tied for the team lead in errors at 13. Since, only Griffin has two and Phillips has only one.

Not Just A Thief...Shannon Anderson picked up the only hit of the game for either team against Georgia Tech. She added two more against LSU on April 27 and now has a hit in seven of her last 11 games, raising her average from .231 to .244 with four RBI.

Scoring Nine...The Tigers’ nine runs in game one at Kentucky on April 18 were the most the team has scored in a conference game this season, and the most overall since scoring 12 runs versus Alabama A&M on Feb. 23. Auburn has scored nine or more runs four times this season and is 4-0 in those games.

Doubling Up...Ashley Griffin once again connected for a double at Kentucky on April 19. It was her 17th of the season, but she failed to come up with one against LSU and has now dropped into second in the SEC in that category.

Free Wheeling...Senior Kim Freeland was 0-for-3 at the plate this season heading into the Kentucky series, but received significant playing time and took advantage of it. She went 4-for-10 with a double and an RBI.

Angulo Rebounding...After raising her batting average to a season-high .270 against South Carolina on March 29, Kasey Angulo went 1-for-19, including a bases loaded strikeout to end the last game versus Alabama. Since then, she has rebounded with seven hits in her last ten games, including a three home runs and six RBI and the team’s only hit against Georgia Tech on May 2.

SEC Pitcher of the Week...Kristen Keyes was named Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Week after finishing 2-0 with complete games against Tennessee on April 12 and 13. She allowed a combined one run on five hits with no walks while striking out 25 in 18 innings for a 0.39 ERA. It marked the third time Keyes received the honor in her career, including April 22 and May 6 of 2002.

Dominating Over Tennessee...With her two wins over Tennessee, Kristen Keyes now has a career record of 4-0 with four complete games and three shutouts. She has allowed one run on ten hits and four walks with 45 strikeouts in 30.0 innings for an ERA of 0.23.

Strikeout Leader...After matching her own school record of 12 strikeouts in a game three times this season, Kristen Keyes took it another step as she struck out 16 against Tennessee on April 12. The game went 11 innings, but she had already broken the record with 14 through seven frames. She orignially set the record on April 21 last season against Tennessee. She also became Auburn’s career leader in strikeouts with 351 and now has 396.

Turning Around On The Bulldogs...Depite losing the second game on April 5 at Mississippi State, Auburn has now won three of the last four against MSU, dating back to last season. Prior to that, the Tigers had lost six in a row and 15 of the last 16 to the Bulldogs.

Rain?...The rain out at Mississippi State on April 6 marked the first time an Auburn conference game was cancelled due to weather since April 14, 2000, at Florida.

Two Threes...Ashley Griffin recorded six hits in two games at Mississippi State with three in each game. The last Tiger to accomplish three hits in consecutive games was Kasey Angulo. She did it April 21 and 22 of last season against Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State and was the only player to accomplish it that season.

Up And Down...Although Auburn’s offense struggled against Alabama, Martha Phillips had a solid series, hitting 5-for-8 with a double. Her average reached .230 at that point, but has fallen back to .215 since.

Consecutive Shutouts...In the last two games against Alabama, Auburn failed to score. It marked the first time in series history the Tigers were held scoreless in consecutive games. In fact, in 23 previous games against the Crimson Tide they had only been shut out a total of two other times. This season, it marked the second time Auburn did not cross the plate in consecutive games, Feb. 25 and March 4 against UAB and Florida.

Out Ranked...Auburn earned its first win of the season over a ranked team when it defeated 13th-ranked South Carolina, 2-1, on March 29.

Most This Season...The 12 runs South Carolina scored in game one on March 29 was the most allowed in a game by Auburn pitching this season, as the Gamecocks earned a 12-1 win in five innings.

Dean To The Rescue...Although Sara Dean had only one hit in her previous four games since having a six-game hitting streak snapped heading into the 2-1 win over South Carolina on March 29, she picked up two hits, including the game winner in the bottom of the eighth.

‘Even’ing Out...The Tigers earned a split of the two-game season series with Alabama-Birmingham with a 5-2 victory on March 26 in Birmingham, as each team won on the other’s field. UAB took a 4-0 decision from Auburn on February 25 at Jane B. Moore Field.

Anatomy Of A Win Streak...Auburn’s other six-game winning streak from March 15-26 was based largely on solid pitching. The team ERA was 0.49, which included four shutouts and a total of four runs allowed. Kristen Keyes had three of the wins, while Janet Spivey had two and Kasey Angulo had one. Ashley Griffin and Deni Zeigler each had four RBI, while Griffin hit .450 with five doubles and a triple, leading to an .800 slug. percentage.

Keyes’ Ks...Kristen Keyes struck out a total of 36 batters in two starts versus Ole Miss and one start at UAB, and at the time, in doing so, tied her own school record for strikeouts a game with 12, three consecutive times. She previously set that record on April 21, 2002 against Tennessee. Prior to Ole Miss, she had struck out 55 batters in 12 appearances.

Holding Down The Rebels...With a three-game sweep of Ole Miss, Auburn extended its streak of consecutive shutout victories over the Rebels to six. Over the past five seasons, Auburn has won 14 of the 17 games versus Ole Miss, including a three-game sweep last season. Two of the losses in that span were also by only one run, and in 13 of the games, the Tigers held the Rebels to three runs or fewer, with eight shutouts and a record of 11-2.

‘Keyeing’ On The Rebels...Krisetn Keyes picked up two of Auburn’s three wins versus Ole Miss this weekend, finishing with two complete game shutouts. Dating back to last season’s series when she also earned two shutout wins, Keyes has now pitched 25.2 scoreless innings against the Rebels, allowing just 12 hits and six walks while striking out 41.

Unlucky Timing...Although Kristen Keyes’ performance against Ole Miss was better than a majority of the performances of past SEC Pitcher of the Week winners, it happened to come in a week when Georgia’s Michelle Green earned five wins and was named USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week for the nation.

Griffin Rebels...Ashley Griffin had a dominant performance at Ole Miss, collecting six hits in 10 at bats, all for extra bases, including five doubles and her first collegate triple. She extended her hitting streak to six games, and compiled a 1.300 slugging percentage for the weekend, as she took the team lead in that category for the season at .530. She is now at .479, but also leads in batting average (.309), doubles (17) and total bases (79).

Starting With Ole Miss...Auburn’s 3-6 record in conference play entering the Ole Miss series was one game better than last season’s start of 2-7 after nine games. In that season, Auburn swept the Rebels and recovered to finish 15-15 in the SEC.

10 Not Enough?...One of Auburn’s more frustrating losses came in game one against Arkansas on March 15 when it reached the 10-hit mark for the fourth time this season, but could only manage one run on a home run, while leaving 11 runners on base. The Tigers were 3-0 with ten hits prior to that game.

Breaking The Hold...With their two wins over the Lady Razorbacks on March 16, the Tigers snapped an eight-game losing streak to Arkansas.

Not A Sweet Song...In losing three games at Georgia on March 7 and 8, the Tigers were outscored 26-5. It was the most runs surrendered by an Auburn team in a three-game series since the SEC changed from the two-game and four-game series format for the 2001 season. Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have now outscored the Tigers 55-14 in seven games.

Taking The Mound...Kasey Angulo earned the first win of her Auburn career when she moved in to pitch in the fourth inning against Arkansas series on March 16. She went 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Janet Spivey. She gave up her first runs in four appearances at Kentucky on April 18, surrendering two on three hits in 2.2 innings.

Angling Back...After missing the first 12 games of the season, Kasey Angulo a pinch hit appearance against Missouri on Feb. 8, and then started the next seven games at designated player before finally returning to first base against Birmingham Southern. She had arguably her biggest hit of the season against Florida on March 5 when she came up with a two-out, bases loaded single to give the Tigers a 2-0 edge in the third inning against Florida, leading to Auburn’s first SEC win. She hit her first home run of the season against South Carolina on March 29.

Jones Making Them Count...Despite starting just 24 games this season with 83 plate appearances, Paige Jones is tied for Auburn’s in RBI with 17. Jones is batting just .158 with 12 hits, but almost half have been for extra bases with one double and four home runs, including a solo shot versus Ole Miss.

Not A Bad Alternative...Not only was Anne Norton an admirable replacement for Kasey Angulo in the field at first base, but Norton also helped replace Angulo’s power. Her home run against Birmingham Southern was her fourth of the year, tying her for the team lead. Entering the 2003 season, Norton had no hits in two career at bats.

Getting In Their Time...Freshmen Janey Spivey and Jenny Diaz have had to adjust to the collegiate game quickly and are getting their opportunities. The two are have combined for 50 appearances, with Spivey at 29 and Diaz is not far behind at 21. Spivey is tied for eighth in games started with 24, while Diaz is fourth in games finished with 14.

Freshman Pitching Duo...Freshmen Jenny Diaz and Janet Spivey have had a significant impact during on the 2003 season for the Tigers. Both players have performed admirably, especially early in the absence of Auburn’s preseason top two starters, Kristen Keyes and Lily DuBois. Diaz has compiled a 6-2 record with a 3.14 ERA, while Spivey has posted a 7-13 record with a 3.21 ERA.

Spivey has pitched nine complete games this season with five of those being shutouts, but none may have been bigger than a game in which she received a no decision against South Carolina. Spivey shut out the 13th-ranked Gamecocks for 6.2 innings before finally surrendering the tying run in a game Auburn won, 2-1, in eight innings. Her most impressive win may have been a shutout of Florida in her first-ever SEC start on March 5.

Diaz’s biggest impact came in the early season. At the USF-Louisville Slugger Invitational, she picked up two wins and allowed just four earned runs in 16.2 innings. She then earned her third win against Mercer in the Tiger Invitational, allowing two earned runs on nine hits with one walk and three strikeouts in the complete game. Since that Mercer game, she has started twice and is 1-1, taking a loss against Lipscomb and earning a win over Alabama A&M. Her other two wins came in relief for Spivey against Southeastern Louisiana and Mercer.

Going Deep...Against Birmingham Southern, Sara Dean, Anne Norton, Deni Zeigler and Martha Phillips all went deep to set a team record for home runs in a game with four. Phillips’ home run came in the first inning with the bases loaded for a grand slam. Only Zeigler’s home run was solo, as Dean and Norton both hit two-run shots in the 16-0 win.

Sweet 16...Auburn’s total of 16 runs against Birmingham Southern was the team’s highest total since a 17-1 victory over Kentucky on April 28 of last season.

Holiday In Macon...The Tigers traveled to Macon, Ga., from Feb. 21-23 for the Holiday Inn Invitational, hosted by Mercer, where they came away with a 4-1 record, including their third win of the season over Mercer.

Rising High...As a team, Auburn hit .341 during the Holiday Inn Invitational. At the time, the performance elevated the team batting average to .233 for the season, up from the .200 average the team brought into it.

Breaking Out...Entering the Holiday Inn Invitational, the Tigers had struggled at the plate. Auburn had been limited to four or fewer hits in six of the previous eight games, compiling a 1-5 record in those games with the only win coming against Mercer at the Tiger Invitational. The Tigers had also scored more than four runs in only one of their last 12 games. In the five games of the tournament in Macon, Auburn scored 41 runs, as opposed to a total of 47 runs in the previous 17 games to open the season. The Tigers also eclipsed four runs in four of the games.

Taking On Troy...Auburn traveled to face Troy State for the fourth time in school history and came away with a 4-3 loss in which Janet Spivey surrendered all four runs in the first inning before settleing down to retire 16 of the final 18 Lady Trojan batters. However, the damage had been done as the Tiger’s offense could only score three runs on three hits. Anne Norton hit her third home run of the season, which was a two-run shot in the seventh.

No Mardi Gras In Monroe...Auburn traveled to Monroe, La., for the Mardi Gras Tournament over the weekend of Feb. 14-16, and finished with a 1-2 record, defeating Southeastern Louisiana, 3-2, on Friday and then losing to Tulsa, 5-0, and Louisiana Lafayette, 9-1, on Sunday. The tournament schedule was rained out on Saturday.

Stumbling Against Samford...After a tournament championship, the Tigers managed only four hits against Samford in a 1-0 loss on Feb. 11 in Birmingham, Ala. Janet Spivey pitched a complete game, allowing only three hits  and one run on a solo home run, but it was enough as the Bulldogs held on for the upset.

Tiger Invitational Champions...In dramatic fashion, freshman Ashley Griffin hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to turn a one-run deficit into a tournament championship as the Tigers defeated Missouri, 3-2, on Feb. 9. With the shot, Griffin wrapped up tournament most valuable player, concluding a weekend in which she was 9-for-15 with four doubles, the home run and three RBI. Fellow freshman Janet Spivey was named most valuable pitcher following back-to-back complete game wins in just the second and third starts of her career. Spivey pitched 14 innings and allowed only two runs in the semifinal and championship game.

Tigers’ Den...In the four seasons Auburn has hosted the Tiger Invitational, the Tigers have compiled a 19-3 record.

Most Valuable Pitcher, Most Valuable Player...Janet Spivey made a huge stride this season in the Tiger Invit., with complete games over Mercer and Mizzou to win the title and most valuable pitcher honors in her first two collegiate starts. Fellow freshman Ashley Griffin helped her earn the championship win with a game-winning two-run homer in the seventh, upping her average for the tournament to .600, as she took most valuable player honors.



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