Lexi Davis takes a 21-2 record into NCAA Regional play in Auburn
|Auburn Softball: NCAA Softball Auburn Regional|
|Matchup||No. 4/4 Auburn (49-9, 18-6 SEC) at NCAA Regionals | Game Notes|
|Tournament Cent.||2015 NCAA Softball Auburn Regional Central | Bracket|
|Dates and Times||Friday, May 15, 2015 | 5:30 p.m. vs. Tennessee Tech (32-26) - ESPN3 | Live Stats|
|Saturday, May 16, 2015 | Time and Opponent TBD|
|Sunday, May 17, 2015 | Time and Opponent TBD|
|Location||Jane B. Moore Field (1,500) | Auburn, Ala.|
|Tickets||SOLD OUT | AUBtix.com|
|Broadcasts||TV: ESPN3 - All weekend | Radio: AuburnTigers.com|
|Online||Live Stats| WatchESPN.com | Twitter: @Auburn_Softball|
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Lexi Davis doesn't need to be introduced to NCAA Regional play. The Auburn pitcher saw plenty of it last season when she appeared in all five of Auburn's regional games, pitched 29 of a possible 33 innings and pushed the Tigers to the doorstep to a Super Regional.
This time, she'll have plenty of help as Auburn looks to take the next step.
"We have a staff this year, and that's made a big difference," said coach Clint Myers, who will lead his Tigers into the Auburn Regional this weekend at a sold-out Jane B. Moore Field.
Myers isn't saying who will start in Friday's 5:30 p.m. game against Tennessee Tech, but he does have a reliable staff comprised of Davis, Marcy Harper and Rachael Walters. Auburnstarted each of them in Baton Rouge last weekend as Auburn swept to the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship.
"You look at college softball across the country you're finding it's becoming more of a staff than just riding the back of one pitcher. I think it's good for the game," Myers said. "It makes you coach a little bit more because you have to look at lineup changes and double-switches and things like that."
The regional begins at 3 p.m. Friday when South Alabama meets Chattanooga. Then it's Auburn, the No. 4 national seed, facing Tennessee Tech. The regional will continue Saturday and conclude Sunday.
Auburn is known for hitting, and specifically home runs, but it can pitch, too. Davis is 21-2 with a 4.14 ERA, Rachel Walters is 17-3 with a 2.98 ERA and Marcy Harper is 11-4 with a 3.57 ERA.
Davis said it is most beneficial to have plenty of pitching help in this year's regional after Auburn suddenly found itself shorthanded in last year's regional.
"Having my teammates behind me gives me a relief knowing I don't have to throw every game," she said. "We've gotten a lot of run support this year and that's always helpful. I love having my teammates and my other pitchers here to help me out."
Davis was asked to carry the pitching load in the NCAA regional in Minneapolis last season, pitching in all five games over three days.
"I'm not going to lie: It's tough," she said. "I enjoyed being able to thrive under the pressure. I wouldn't like to do it again. I'm glad that I don't have to do it again.
"It's been nice having the others behind me."
Davis said she likes the big game. "I'm kind of one who steps up when I'm needed."
But more pitchers mean "it doesn't put as much added stress, and I think that's really helpful. I can just relax and go out and throw. Even if I do get into a jam, I know I have someone who can come in and back me up. And vice versa. That's always a good thing."
Sure enough, Walters won a game Davis started, and Davis won a game Walters started, in Baton Rouge.
Auburn spent 10 days in Baton Rouge, finishing up the regular season, taking finals, playing in the SEC Tournament. Now, school's out and the focus is on playing at home.
"It's been great," Davis said. "No school this week. Finals are done. We get to come here, relax, focus just on softball. It's been really nice knowing that we get to be here and stay here. It's been comforting."
Auburn softball gets ready for NCAA Regional at Jane B. Moore Field. Tigers vs. Tennessee Tech at 5:30 p.m. Friday pic.twitter.com/kyTz0dCY2u
-- Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) May 14, 2015
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine