July 21, 2014
AUBURN, Ala. - You hear it all the time throughout multiple sports. Defense wins games.
In softball, the name of the game is to score more runs than your opponent and also prevent your opponent from scoring as well. Auburn softball did plenty of prevention during the 2014 season, accumulating the highest fielding percentage out of any team in the NCAA.
"I think like everything on the softball field is that it's about the mindset," Auburn head coach Clint Myers. "You take in the philosophy of attacking the zone and trying to get ground balls. They know if they can get a ground ball, then we have an excellent chance."
The Tigers generated a .979 pecentage in the field, tying with Kansas and standing only one one-thousandth of a percent higher than Florida and Oklahoma (.978). Auburn turned 38 double-plays this season, most in the SEC and second-most in the country.
Auburn's defense was in the spotlight all season, but never so much as when pitchers Marcy Harper and Lexi Davis both threw three consecutive no-hitters over a two-day span. The no-no's garnered a spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top Plays, but Coach Myers always believed the honor went to the defense also.
"It’s actually a two-fold thing," Myers said. "We want the pitchers to go out and attack the zone, we want 12 or less pitches in an inning, ideally eight or nine pitches in an inning because we want them to hit the ball on the ground. When you have that mentality, pitching-wise, you have to be ready on every pitch as if the ball is coming to you. We spend a lot of time working on the basics. Every routine play must be made and the great plays will take care of themselves.
"Really, it's the repetition and the idea of going out there and picking your hops. We're smarter defensively and when you're smarter defensively, you pick better hops, which enhances the opportunities of being successful. We're not caught in between. It's just one of those things where knowledge is power."
That knowledge is only the start of the Clint Myers era. Expect more in 2015.
To see the full final rankings of all categories for the 2014 NCAA Softball season, follow the link here.