Teammates congratulate Auburn player Jade Rhodes (8) after her sixth inning home run against Miss State March 22, 2014, at the Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn. (photo:Julie Bennett/al.com)
“When we began our search for a new softball coach, the goal was to find a proven winner.” Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs on the hiring of Clint Meyers as Auburn’s Head softball Coach. That was June 14th, 2013. Fast forward a few months and it’s easy to see, Meyers is already delivering.
With 34 games in the book, Auburn (28-5-1) is off to the best start in program history. And after last weekend’s series win over Mississippi State the Tigers are ranked No.21 for the third consecutive week.
Coach Meyers modestly attributes the Tigers’ success to his team playing sound softball. “It kind of goes back to our formula,” Myers said. “It’s not so much about how many hits you get, it’s about when you get them. Good defense, good pitching and timely hitting.”
While playing fundamentally sound ball has to be the key to success for any sport, the Tigers remarkable streak is really more about a new direction, a new philosophy, in deed a “New Day” as it were for Auburn Softball.
Like his colleague Gus Mallzahn has done for football, Meyers has reinvigorated the softball program, almost willing them to be winners.
This team is much different from last year’s version. Like AU’s 2013 football season many of the Softball Team’s wins have come as a result of big innings late in the game. And like the 2013 Football Team, the Softball Team has a “Never to Yield” attitude and believes it can win even when things look bleak late in the game.
That confidence, that belief that your going to win the game is an intangible that often marks the difference in a mediocre team and a perennial winning program. I know a lot of coaches with consistent winners say their teams just have some kind of ‘it’ factor. It’s easy to understand what a coach means when he says that; however, the real reason teams have that attitude is because of coaching. It’s the coaches who instill that confidence in their players. That’s why a team with less talent can often beat a more talented group.
In the formula for winning, there’s nothing like self belief. And Auburn Softball has one of the masters for instilling winning confidence. Much like that popular figure of speech, “the proof is in the pudding” meaning the truth of something can only be judged by putting it into action.” Meyers can be judged by his resume as a winner. In 28 seasons, his all time college record as a college softball and baseball coach is 1342 wins, 342 losses, and one tie for a .796 average.
He took his previous team to eight straight Super Regionals and seven appearances in the College World Series, winning two National Championships in 2008 and 2011. His Sun Devil teams averaged 53 wins per season and he has never coached a team with a losing record.
From 1996-2005, he was the head baseball coach at Central Arizona College where he took CAC to the Junior College World Series twice, winning the National Championship in 2002. As the head softball coach from 1987-1995, he won six national championships and was named National Coach of the Year six times.
Whether coaching college softball or baseball, Meyers has taught his teams how to win. And after just 34 games at Auburn, it’s easy to see he’s at it again. It may be too early to crown his Tigers as champions just yet but, make no mistake about it, they will be champions – the proof is in the pudding.
Auburn begins a three week – seven game road trip today starting in Atlanta with a 4 p.m. CT game against Georgia State. The game can be heard locally on WEGL 91.1 or online at AuburnTigers.com.
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