Tim Puetz won his debut match at Wimbledon. (photo:Jim Kruger,yahoo)
In four seasons at Auburn, star tennis player, Tim Puetz was named All-SEC four times averaging at least 18 wins per season including racking up an incredible .857 winning percentage during his senior year.
Now that Puetz is a tennis pro, it comes as no surprise to Tiger fans to see him qualify for the biggest tennis event in the world – The 2014 Wimbledon.
Tim not only qualified for the Wimbledon but he advanced to the second round of the championships with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili on the grass of Wimbledon. He went into the competition ranked at 251 in the world and has become the talk of the tournament.
To even qualify, he had to win all three of his qualifying matches in singles. He not only did that but won the last match by posting a straight-set victory over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (3), 7-6 (16), 6-1.
When Puetz was in school there were glimpses of potential greatness. He was named All-American both his junior and senior years after playing in the NCAA National Singles Semifinals in 2010 and making it to the National Doubles Semifinals in 2009 along with his teammate Alexey Tsyrenov.
Although Tim dropped the first set to Gabashvili to start Monday’s match he battled back in his debut with a dominant serve recording 19 aces in his first-round win. He was a perfect 11-for-11 on points won at the net to mark his first career win at a Grand Slam event.
With the victory Tim advanced to today’s second round at the 2014 Wimbledon. He will be facing the 16th tournament seed in Italy’s Fabio Fognini.
Yesterday, pictures made the rounds on the internet of an Auburn flag in the crowd at the World Cup testifying to how the sun never sets on the Auburn Family.
While I don’t know how many Auburn fans may be in attendance at the All-England Club in London today … I’m sure there will be many Auburn flags raised across the globe as we pull for one of our Tigers.
Good luck Tim and War Eagle!
Even though Tim lost a thrilling second round match today, he did himself proud as he gave the No. 15 ranked player in the world all he could handle winning the first set 6-2. and forcing Fognini to a tie in the third before the Italian finally prevailed 8-6.
Tim traded breaks early in the fourth set before Fognini pulled ahead to make it 3-1, and even then he had to fight off a determined Puetz to complete the win. Tim was very impressive in his first appearance on the grass of the All-England Club and should be a regular in future Wimbledons
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive (photo:Marvin Gentry,USAToday)
The spring meetings of the South Eastern Conference got underway yesterday in Destin, Florida. And for the first time in several years SEC scheduling is not the hot button issue. That decision was put to rest (at least for now) April 26th when the league voted to keep the 6-1-1 model.
However, there are several important issues to be considered this week by the presidents, athletic directors, and head coaches from the revenue producing sports of football and basketball.
On the agenda will be the discussion of programming for the new SEC Network and more importantly how the revenue sharing will be handled. In addition, AD’s and football coaches will consider the best way to respond to growing national interest in an early signing period.
It also looks like the issue of alcohol sales at SEC games will be on the table. However, Commissioner Slive said Tuesday that, “Discussion will be about neutral sites not covered by the SEC rule preventing on campus sales.”
And despite Bret Biliema’s denial yesterday, it’s a safe bet that talk will surface about his and Nick Saban’s proposal to force offenses to wait 10 seconds before snapping the ball to slow down the Hurry-Up-No-Huddle offense. After all Biliema has not missed an opportunity yet to push for a change in the game.
The most significant topic though, will be the so called “Autonomy” proposal under consideration by the NCAA.
Probably as a result of the Ed O’Bannon law suit and the Nortwestern NLRB decision the NCAA Board of Directors gave tacit approval last month to a proposal that would allow the five big conferences to come up with a plan to govern themselves.
Under the proposal the Big-5 conferences (SEC, Pac-12, Big10, ACC, and Big10) would still be under the NCAA umbrella but would have the authority to set their own rules.
Some of the things to be decided are:
* How much latitude in governing themselves will the Big-5 have?
* Will this mean the larger Universities will be able to grant “full cost of attendance” scholarships?
* And if increased financial aid is awarded student-athletes, will it be across the board to every sport or just football and basketball?
* Will a new subdivision affect more than the ability to provide student-athletes a financial stipend?
* Will there be separate rules governing the recruiting process?
* Will it result in easier transfer rules for football as in the other sports?
Those questions and more have to be hammered out before a new super subdivision can be created within the NCAA.
The league has to decide this week what position it will take on the various questions because the Division I Board of Directors meets the end of August to vote on the Big-5′s separating from the rest of Division I schools.
We wrote in this space a few weeks ago that the times are changing in college athletics. Jay Coulter’s Tuesday article about the possible removal of conference divisional play is just one example of those changes. And the mere chance that the NCAA would consider allowing 65 schools to basically write their own rules is proof of just how much change is on the horizon.
(photo:Zach Bland, Auburn media)
“This award couldn’t have gone to a more deserving person,” Auburn Head Softball Coach Clint Myers speaking about Freshman, Kasey Cooper. The Tiger third baseman had just been named the Division I Co-National Freshman of the Year. Cooper will share the honor with Tennessee’s Annie Aldrete.
The award was presented by the National Fast pitch Coaches Association in Oklahoma City during the NCAA’s award ceremony prior to the start of the Women’s College World Series.
“We’re excited that she is able to represent Auburn in such a great way and she had such a wonderful season.” Meyers said. And Cooper did have a wonderful season. In fact, she had one of the best seasons of any player in the history of the program.
Kasey had a team best .418 batting average which led all SEC freshmen. She led the team in hits (74), home runs (18), RBI’s, runs scored (70), and slugging percentage (.780). In addition she broke the freshman records for homeruns and RBI’s as well as Emily Carosone‘s freshman record (.389) batting average set last season.
Finally, she joined Branndi Melero and Carosone as All-Americans and All-Southeast Region players; becoming the first Auburn player to ever be named All-American, All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman in a season.
Cooper said she was humbled by the award and was quick to give a lot of the credit to her coaches. “(They) worked so hard this year on getting us ready for the season and everything that went with it.”
Tiger fans can look forward to more awards, honors, and championships in the future with Coach Meyers at the helm. In the mean time …
Congratulations Kasey and War Eagle!
McKenzie Kilpatrick hit a grand slam in the NCAA Regional Championship game in Minneapolis. (photo:Zach Bland,AU media)
“We were pumped. We wanted to keep going. We wanted to keep going in the post season, but fell a little short.” Auburn Centerfielder Morgan Estell said after the Tigers lost a close NCAA Region Championship game tonight. The Softball Team had fought their way back from the losers bracket only to lose a close one to the host team.
In the first game junior pinch hitter Jenna Abbott hit a walk off extra inning home run to beat the Gophers 4-3 and the Tigers seemed to be on their way to the same dramatic outcome in game two when pinch hitter McKenzie Kilpatrick hit a grand slam in the third inning to give Auburn a 6-3 lead. However, Minnesota came back in the sixth to retake the lead 8-6 and that’s how the game ended.
Auburn finished the year with a 42-19-1 record, the second best record in program history. The season was a validation of the decision that AD Jay Jacobs made last year to put the program in the hands of Clint Meyers, one of the winningest coaches in college softball.
Coach Meyers breathed new life into a program that just a year ago failed to make the SEC Tournament. To be sure, it was a great turn around year with an RPI of 15 to go along with the 42 W’s. Meyers said he was proud of his team, “There is no reason, none whatsoever, that any of those ladies should have their heads down.”
He said his Tigers made a statement this year that they will be a force to be reckoned with in college softball. “We’re sorry we have to go home,” Meyers said. “But very proud of what they did,”
“We will be back.”
On February 6, 2014, The Auburn Tigers Softball Team was trailing Troy 5-2 when McKenzie Kilpatrick hit a 3-run homer and Emily Carosone drove in what appeared to be the go ahead run to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning.
The Tigers seem to be in control and on their way to giving Clint Meyers, a victory in his debut as the Tigers new Head Coach. However, the weather stepped in and iced the rally as rain and sleet caused the game to be called. Under the rules, the score reverted back to the last completed inning. That meant the game went down as a 5-5 tie.
If it were not for that inclement weather the Tigers would have had 40 wins this season and most likely be hosting an NCAA Regional. As it is, Auburn drew the second seed in the Minnesota Regional which begins this Friday in Minneapolis.
The good news is that Clint Meyers has got the Tigers back in the NCAA Tournament again after Auburn failed to make the field in 2012. The not so good news is that should the Tigers win their Regional, they will be in the Super Regional with overall No.1 seed Oregon.
And that’s okay with Coach Meyers. While he admitted Sunday night that it would be better to be on the other side of the bracket, he said, “We’re playing against some very talented, very athletic teams.” But he added playing the best teams is what the postseason is all about.
If that’s true, the Tigers should be in good shape since they have already played against some of the best teams in the nation during the regular season. Auburn has an RPI of 15 having faced 31 NCAA Tournament Teams. Included on that list is Friday night’s opponent North Dakota State.
The Bison are a power hitting team and are coming off a season where they’ve won 10 of their last 11 games. However, The Tigers defeated the Bison 11-3 in the second game of the season. And Auburn has a power line up itself having hit a school record 79 homeruns this season while leading the SEC in runs scored.
Senior Branndi Melero leads the nation with 76 RBI’s and a .411 batting average. Close on her heals is Freshman Kasey Cooper who is batting .410 and is the team leader in homeruns (16). And then there is Emily Carosone who is batting .408 with 9 homers.
The Tigers have a couple of other reasons that may give them a chance at going deep in the tournament:
For one, they are a very good defensive team. Auburn hardly ever makes an error and sits a top of the stats in fielding with a .981 team fielding percentage. Secondly, the Tigers are being led into the tournament by a guy who knows how to prepare a team for NCAA Tournament play.
Coach Meyers’ previous team played in eight NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Women’s College World Series seven times including winning two national titles. “The postseason is about playing the best teams,” Meyers said. “We won’t make any excuses (but) we can play with anybody when we do the things we’re capable of.”
Go Tigers Beat the Bison!
The Minnesota Regional is made up of Auburn, UW-Green Bay, and No. 16 seed Minnesota. The Tigers play North Dakota State on Friday in its opening game.
(photo:Anthony Hall, Auburn media)
Shortly after Clint Meyers was hired as the Auburn Softball coach he gave his formula for a winning program: “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.” For the most part his team has followed that formula on their way to a top 20 ranking and a 38-16-1 record in Meyers first season on The Plains.
And after playing South Carolina in a close series over the weekend as well as sweeping Texas A&M last week, it appears his Tigers are heading into the SEC Tournament today playing some of their best ball of the year.
Although Auburn leads the SEC in fielding percentage, the Tigers have really arrived at this point with a power lineup. The Tigers have knocked out 75 homeruns and lead the SEC in RBIs and runs scored. Twelve batters have a slugging percentage of .400 or better and six of those are above .500.
The Tigers will face off against South Carolina (35-19) in the second game of the Tournament. It will be the fourth meeting of the two teams in the last six days. Auburn will be led by three Tigers that made the All-SEC Team on Tuesday: Junior Branndi Melero, Sophomore Emily Carosone and Freshman Kasey Cooper.
Melero was named to the All-SEC First Team, while Cooper and Carosone made the All-SEC Second Team. In addition, Cooper was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Melero has a .420 batting average (.787 slugging percentage) and leads the nation in RBI’s with 75. She has 15 homeruns off of 63 hits and has scored 51 runs.
Carosone has a .410 batting average with 55 hits. The sophomore infielder has a slugging percentage of .642 and a .586 on-base percentage.
Cooper, who has a .779 slugging percentage, leads all SEC freshmen in RBI’s with 70 and home runs with 16. Her home run total is just one homerun shy of tying the school’s single-season record. She is the first Auburn freshman to make both the All-Freshman and All-SEC teams and she is a top-25 finalist for the NFCA National Freshman of the Year.
The 20th ranked Tigers are a shoe-in for an NCAA Tournament and if they win or go deep into the SEC Tournament, may actually have a chance to host a Regional. Meyers is optimistic. He said yesterday, ““The way it breaks down is pretty simple: One game a day for four straight days … We can do that. We’ve got the personnel in order to do it.” – Do it Tigers and start by …
Beating the Gamecocks!
All games will be played at Carolina’s Beckham Field in Columbia. ESPNU will broadcast every game except for the championship which will be broadcast by ESPN2. Fans can also hear the radio broadcast on WEGL 91.1 or on AuburnTigers.com.
Game 1 – Marcy Harper came on in relief of Lexi Davis to shut the door on the Gamecocks for a 7-5 win. Tigers move on to play Bama tomorrow at 5:30 CT.
Game 2 – The Tigers fall in their SEC Tournament quarterfinal 8-4 and will now wait for their NCAA Regional location which can be seen on ESPNU on Sunday at 9p.m.
Auburn great, Doc Robinson with Auburn Media Relations Director Chuck Gallina, and former Auburn AD David Housel at 2014 Tiger Trail Induction Ceremony. (photo:Anthony Hall/Auburn media relations)
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to attend Auburn’s walk of fame (the Tiger Trails) induction ceremony by a tailgate friend from Texas. Holly Byrd usually attends the event to represent the Greater Houston Auburn Club. However, this year Holly was recuperating from a back injury and ask that I do her a favor and attend in her place.
Holly needed help getting items autographed to be auctioned for the Houston Auburn Club scholarship fund. Since I had never attended one of these events and this gave me the opportunity to help a member of the family as well as future students, I was glad to help out. However, while I thought I was doing Holly a favor, turns out she did me one.
You see I was not prepared for the type of night that lay ahead. I just thought there would be a handful of people there to witness some presentations. But there were close to 200 people that gathered for the festivities in the Auburn Arena. And folks I was wowed by what I experienced. It was honestly a blessing to be in attendance.
The event was MC’ed by former Auburn AD David Housel with legends and former inductees like Lloyd Nix, Buddy McClinton, and Terry Henley among the attendees.
Unquestionably a family event, it reminded me of my wife’s family reunions. I say that because while I didn’t personally know most of those gathered, there was a spirit which was truly ‘all in the family.’ Auburn people share that special bond and it is the basis of what makes Auburn University so unique. It didn’t matter if you were an Auburn All-American, a coach, or just a fan; everyone mingled and talked like they were at a family reunion.
It was great fun talking with Coach Malzahn, Coach Pearl, Coach Person, and Coach Tuberville as well as with this year’s inductees. A big highlight for this writer was to meet and talk with one of my childhood heroes … All-American and First Round NFL Draft pick Ken Rice; who was there on behalf of his friend Cleve Webster.
Yet the best came not during the social hour but during the program and the nominees acceptance speeches. For a sentimental guy like me it was a moving experience. As the stories flowed from those like Tommy Tuberville who spoke of his two great running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams to David Marsh, who talked about cancer victim and former Auburn swimming coach Richard Quick‘s love for Auburn… the entire evening was an inspirational affair – one which just reinforced my love for Auburn.
I’m not ashamed to admit that tears welled up in my eyes more than once as each recipient spoke of their love for their alma mater and the impact being a Tiger had on their lives. Four time All-American soccer player, Megan Rivera said, “I came away from Auburn not only with an education but with life experiences that made me what I am today.”
Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams along with Ronnie Brown were First Round NFL Draft picks. “Coming back to get inducted,” Williams said was, “An awesome feeling. It just goes to show you what kind of place Auburn is.”
David Housel who said, “The Tiger Trail symbolizes the past that we celebrate today as well as our hope for the future,” asked Brown to hold up his one year old son, Rhys, from the podium. Housel added, “One day Rhys will be a young man and will walk the streets of Auburn and look down and say that plaque is for my daddy, Ronnie Brown.”
Perhaps the best moment though came from former NBA star and Auburn All-American point guard Doc Robinson, who summed up the feelings of Auburn people everywhere when he ended his acceptance speech with:
“I want to thank my Auburn Family, my teammates and the coaches who were here then. Without them, none of this would be possible. – My heart will forever bleed Orange and Blue and my soul will forever yell War Eagle.”
Me too Doc, me too!
If your an Auburn person, you owe it to yourself to attend next year’s induction. You can bet I’ll be there.
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.
Auburn Head Softball Coach Clint Meyers has won nine national titles in his career. (photo:Julie Bennett/al.com)
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.