Auburn players at the memorial where the the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood in Oklahoma City
By Charles Goldberg
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The fun-loving Auburn softball team suddenly was quiet on the bus ride back to their hotel, back from the Oklahoma City memorial honoring those who were killed in 1995 at the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
The players learned the history of that tragic day Wednesday night, and said a prayer together before they left.
It's all part of the education Auburn has received on its first trip to the College World Series.
Thursday, the Tigers will get another lesson when they play their first-ever World Series game against LSU at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN. If the Tigers win, they'll play another old SEC rival in either Tennessee or Florida on Friday. If they lose, they'll play Saturday against one of those two teams in this eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
There are five SEC teams here, but hometown favorite Oklahoma is not. The SEC coaches figure those softball fans will be looking for somebody to root for.
Auburn coach Clint Myers hopes it'll be his Tigers.
"I think when you have the crowd behind you, it gives you that 10th player," he said. "When Oklahoma is here, this place is entirely red."
But not this year. The SEC filled the bracket with Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama, with Michigan, Oregon and UCLA elbowing their way in.
The SEC's rise was the topic Wednesday how the league has supplanted the Pac-12 as the dominant softball conference. Myers knows a little about that. He made seven trips and won two national titles at Arizona State.
He learned what playing in a dominant conference meant when he turned to former UCLA coach Sue Enquist.
"I asked why didn't we have a conference tournament. Sue said, 'We do, they just call it the College World Series.'
"Back in those days it was very true. Coming from the Pac 12, the SEC is much better as far as strength of schedule, as far as the ability to play a post-season opponent every weekend in conference play. It has by-passed, and the Pac-12 wants to be like us. They're still a great conference, they have two teams here with UCLA and Oregon, two great teams."
But for Auburn, at least for the first two games, it's all about the SEC, again.
Auburn spent a long day of practice at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Wednesday.
A time of perspective and remembrance. What an experience tonight at the Oklahoma City Memorial. pic.twitter.com/z0Y52BgZPn
-- Auburn Softball (@Auburn_Softball) May 28, 2015
Charles Goldberg isa Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:Follow @AUGoldMine