Oct. 23, 2006
AUBURN - The Auburn softball team swept through its slate of fall games, limiting opponents to just 12 hits and no runs en route to an 8-0 record.
Overall, the Tigers were stellar both offensively and defensively during the fall, defeating opponents by a combined 63-0 score.
"Fall games are intended to get everyone work so we know where we want to start in two months," head coach Tina Deese said. "This was a great way to get confidence and work on our overall game. It was a very balanced month of games for us."
The Tigers used four pitchers during the fall, with each limiting opposing batters to five hits or less and a batting average of less than .100. Holly Currie paced the team with a 3-0 record, working 16 innings in four appearances. The senior struck out 25 while allowing five hits. She threw a complete-game shutout in the team's final fall game, an 8-0 win over Central Alabama Community College.
Senior Beth DiPietro and freshman Anna Thompson each went 2-0. DiPietro appeared in three games, starting two. She worked eight innings and did not allow a hit while striking out 19. Thompson, meanwhile, worked her first games as a Tiger, appearing four times, including two starts. She threw 14 innings and struck out a team-leading 34 batters. She faced 46 batters, allowing just four hits.
Junior Brittany Day went 1-0 to wrap up the team's pitching, appearing in four games, starting one. She struck out nine in nine innings, holding opponents to a .097 batting average.
"Our pitchers did a great job in keeping them off the scoreboard," Deese said. "Each one really controlled the strike zone. Anna looked comfortable in her first games as a collegiate pitcher while Beth, Holly and Brittany picked up where they left off last season. This is going to be a well-rounded pitching staff."
The Tiger pitching was not the only story of the fall as the team's batters wrapped up their eight games with a .391 batting average. Senior Sara Ghezzi led the attack with 14 hits in 22 at bats (.636 batting average), including four doubles and a home run. The Miami native led the team with 16 runs batted in and had a .909 slugging percentage.
Currie, who is the team's active leader with 27 home runs, hit two during the fall season and finished with a .917 slugging percentage. Of her 11 hits, six went for extra bases and she ended the fall with a .458 batting average.
"Sara and Holly are going to be very key for us this season," Deese said. "They are going to bring great leadership and are very experienced. Both were very consistent during the fall."
Kristina McCain wasn't far behind Currie, ending her eight games with a .400 batting average (8-for-20) with four walks, two doubles and two RBI. McCain will enter the 2007 season as Auburn's all-time leader in walks with 93.
All of Auburn's six returning starters slated for the 2007 season batted at least .333. Senior Lauren Walton batted .381 with two doubles while sophomore Tatiana Fernandez was 5-fof-15 with five RBI. Lastly, sophomore Ashley Arcuri, who is slated to return at second base, hit .333 with three doubles and two walks.
"Our starters led the way," Deese said. "They worked very hard during the fall and showed the others what it takes to be successful."
Jorja Bell and Brittany Scott paced Auburn's reserves from a season ago. Bell was 4-for-8 with a double and was hit by a pitch three times, while Scott went 7-for-15 and was 4-of-6 in stolen base attempts.
Tiger newcomers also played pivotal roles during the fall. Lindsey Harrelson, a sophomore transfer from Central Alabama Community College, played in seven games and was 3-for-9 with two walks and a hit by pitch. Freshman Whitney Wyatt posted a .667 slugging percentage after hitting home runs in her first two at bats.
"We showed very encouraging signs during the fall," Deese said. "It was important to get the newcomers a taste of what they'll be facing, even if it wasn't the regular season."
Auburn will begin the 2007 regular season at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Hawaii Paradise Classic in Honolulu from Feb. 8-11. The tournament, hosted by Hawaii, will feature two teams that advanced to the 2006 NCAA Tournament - Nebraska and Portland State - as well as DePaul, which made it to the 2005 College World Series.
The Tigers open their 2007 home season Feb. 14 against Georgia State and will then host the Tiger Invitational at Jane B. Moore Field from Feb. 16-18.