Auburn celebrated after winning the NCAA Regional opening series last weekend
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- This will be another first in a season of firsts, this appearance in an NCAA Super Regional, and Clint Myers says Auburn softball is ready for it.
Auburn plays Louisiana-Lafayette at 1 p.m. Friday at Jane B. Moore Field hoping home-field advantage and a Top 4 national ranking will win the day against the tournament-savvy Ragin' Cajuns.
"You've got to go out there and be yourself, you've got to enjoy the game and enjoy the moment," said the Auburn coach.
This will be UL-Lafayette's sixth trip to the Super Regionals in the last eight years. The Ragin' Cajuns played in the College World Series last season. But Myers knows his way around these playoffs, taking Arizona State to the College World Series seven times in eight years, winning the national title twice.
"It will be something that will be forever talked about because, we showed them a little video from when I was at Arizona State, you always remember your first time; maybe not your second and third, but you remember your first time, the first time you do something," Myers said. "This team has been a lot of firsts for them and I believe that they have the capability of continuing that trend of having a lot of firsts. First time to go to Oklahoma City, the first time possibly win a national championship. This team could do that. As we told them, it's time to stop talking and start doing."
The Super Regionals are a best-of-three series. One game Friday. Two games, if necessary, Saturday. At first glance, it's regional experience versus home-field advantage.
"It's a lot of tougher for us to play in y'all's venture, then it is for y'all to be a first-timer playing in your own venue," said UL-Lafayette coach Michael Lotief.
He speaks with experience. The Ragin' Cajuns hosted a Super Regional for the first time last year.
"Wow, what an advantage," he said.
"From our perspective, it's good that our kids have experienced missing it, experienced the World Series last year, experienced the Super Regional on the road before. From y'all's perspective, Clint understands what he has to do to get those kids ready."
Home or away, Lotief says his sport can enjoy the success.
"Every year it seems like these events take on a bigger role, not only in our sport, but our communities. For the people that played all those years ago, this has been incredible for years and years and years and years. It's so rich. And now, for these kids to have the opportunity to chase their dreams, to have an opportunity that matches their sacrifice, their commitment, their love for the sport, it gives you chill bumps," he said.
He also says his team belongs.
"If you look at the list of teams playing right now in the Super Regionals -- Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, UCLA, Arizona, N.C. State, Florida State, Florida and UL. It's like the old Sesame Street game you use to play: Who doesn't belong in this group? We belong, and our girls know that. Our program has been relevant for 30 years, and the commitment our university and our community and the role that softball has played in Lafayette, Louisiana has been relevant for the last 35 years."
And now it's time to play ball.
"I expect this to be fun," Lotief said. "If we get run-ruled, we're going to have fun. If we run-rule them, we're going to have fun."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine