By Jeff Shearer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After coming up short in the SEC Tournament, Auburn quickly turned its attention to the NCAA Tournament, hoping to earn a third straight trip to the Women’s College World Series without having to leave campus.
“I’m hoping that we get a top eight, which I can’t see why we wouldn’t,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said. “I still believe that we have earned that.”
Auburn (46-10) will learn its postseason seeding and opponents on Sunday at 9 p.m. when NCAA pairings are released on ESPN2. The top eight national seeds will host super regionals, provided they win their regionals.
“We have to win three in the regional,” Myers said. “We have to win two in the super regional. You have to win five in the World Series. There’s 10 ballgames ahead of us that we want to win, and that we’re going to be going in with that mindset that, ‘Hey, one at a time.’”
Needing to win twice Saturday to claim an unprecedented third straight conference tournament title, Auburn lost to LSU 6-0 in the semifinals.
“This is by far the best conference in the U.S.,” Myers said. “All 13 teams deserve to be in the postseason.”
LSU scored a run on a walk and a pair of singles in the top of the second, then added five more in the fifth, taking advantage of five Auburn errors. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth but were unable to cash in.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Myers said. “There were some bright things, but for us to be the team we want to be we’ve got to play better defense and we’ve got to have a whole lot more offense. The pitching, I thought, was excellent. It’s the other two parts that we failed at today.”
Auburn’s leaders believe the Tigers have what it takes to return to Oklahoma City.
“This is definitely going to be a learning point for us,” said Kaylee Carlson (26-4), the SEC’s winningest pitcher. “I know we’re not going to make the same mistakes, especially now that we’ve had them in this game. I trust them, and they’re going to get runs to win. We’ve just got to move on from it.”
“There were mistakes made this game that we do need to learn from,” said shortstop Haley Fagan, who went 2-for-3 against LSU, raising her average to .307. “At practice, all of the repetition we get is going to help us. This game is a refocusing point where we just need to lock back in at practice.”
Auburn will hold its team banquet Sunday before the NCAA selection show.
“I know we’re hosting a regional,” Myers said. “There’s no doubt in my mind there. We’re ranked third in the RPI. I would love to be in the top eight because that ensures playing in front of our crowd at our field, sleeping in our own beds. Regardless, you still have to play great talent.
“Softball all over is getting better. It’s going to be a good regional and probably a great super regional, and they’re going to have eight phenomenal teams at the World Series. We’re planning on being one of those.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer