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Auburn Softball Heads To Tucson Regional

May 14, 2006

AUBURN, Ala. - The 24th-ranked Auburn softball team will head to Tucson, Ariz. for the Tigers' third straight NCAA Regional as announced by the Division I NCAA Softball Committee Sunday.

The Tigers (34-20) are seeded second in the regional and will open with No. 3 seed Ohio State (38-21) Thursday at 4 p.m. MST. The regional's first-seed and host, Arizona (44-9), will play No. 4 Marist (33-11) after Auburn and Ohio State complete their game.

"We are very excited to be heading to Arizona," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "This is our third straight regional and this will be a battle. Arizona, Ohio State and Marist are all quality teams who earned their bids."

The Tigers finished third in the SEC's Western Division with a 15-15 conference record. Auburn is coming off a 4-1 loss to LSU in the SEC Tournament, which marked the Tigers' seventh-straight bid to the conference's postseason tournament. The Tigers have played their last 19 straight games against teams from the SEC and will be guaranteed of not seeing another conference opponent until the College World Series.

Auburn will be making its third straight NCAA Regional appearance and fourth in five years. The Tigers finished the 2006 season 34-20 overall and 15-15 in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn finished the regular season with a 19-8 record at Jane B. Moore Field.

Auburn won its first-ever NCAA Regional game with an 11-2 six-inning victory over Florida A&M last season. Previous to that, the Tigers played in the 2002 NCAA Regional at Florida State and in 2004 at Stanford. Auburn went 0-2 in both regionals.

"We were in the last regional to be picked," Auburn junior Sara Ghezzi said. "It was nervewracking. It will be exciting to out to Arizona."

Joining Auburn from the Southeastern Conference as clubs that will play in the postseason are fourth-ranked Alabama, No. 8 Tennessee, No. 10 Georgia, No. 11 LSU and Florida. Each team will host a regional. The SEC has placed at least six teams in NCAA Regionals for the fifth straight season.

The remaining host institutions include UCLA, Michigan, Fresno State, UMass, Northwestern, Texas, BYU, Hofstra, Oregon State and Iowa.

Qutong Auburn Players, Coaches

Head Coach Tina Deese

On making an NCAA Regional ...
"We are very excited to be heading to Arizona. This is our third straight regional and this will be a battle. Arizona, Ohio State and Marist are all quality teams who earned their bids."

On adjusting to Arizona ...
"It's important to get out there and get some good practice time in because it will be hot. We want to become acclimated to the weather in Arizona. Our first game is at 4 p.m., when it should be warm still."

On three straight NCAA Regionals ...
"It's big to make it to the postseason three straight years. Every step is big and this is just another one. Our goal is to make it to super regionals."

Junior Sara Ghezzi

On making an NCAA Regional ...
"It's a great feeling. It's exciting. We want to try and make it to the super regionals. I'm happy, but I was getting a little nervous there. It's good. We just have to play hard and try and beat some of the best teams in the country."

On going to Arizona ...
"I've never been out there, but I do know that's going to be hot. They're a tough team and one of the best in the country. If we beat them, it just shows how good we are.

About playing Ohio State ...
"They're Big Ten, so they come from a big conference. I'm sure it will be a battle just like we are in the SEC. It will be tough."

Junior Kristina McCain

On going to Arizona ...
"Everybody was talking about how they thought if we didn't host, we'd stay in the South. But I assumed we'd go far away. Hopefully we'll go out there, practice well and then play well."

On what making an NCAA Regional for the third straight season means ...
"I think it means that our program is rising. I'm just proud to be a part of it. For me, it's special to play at the Division I level."

On heading to the West ...
"I don't think it will bother any of us, being in different time zones. We'll have to adjust to the heat and I know out in Arizona, there is thin air while here the air is real thick and humid. We'll have to adjust. Practicing out there before Thursday will help us adjust."



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