Auburn Leaves Puerto Vallarta 3–1, SIUE Next
photo: Julie Bennett/al.com
Auburn started its season better than any other softball team in America. In a rematch with Women’s College World Series champ Oklahoma, the runner-ups knocked off No. 1 by a 3–2 score. The game wasn’t that close as Auburn led 3–0 going into the back half of the last frame. Later that day Auburn dropped game two of its opening-day double header 2–1 to the Washington Huskies.
In the back half of the Triple Crown tournament the Tigers struggled against unranked Nebraska before beating the Huskers 3–2. Nebraska hung with the Tigers, leading 1–0 going into the fourth and making it a game in their last at-bat to pull within a run. Auburn closed its tournament by shutting out unranked BYU 3–0.
Auburn isn’t used to such close games. The Tigers have been a high-scoring club the last few years, setting scoring setting scoring records of some sort each year. Additionally, Auburn has been a very efficient defense in the past, something that has been missing so far this year. Luckily, the Tigers have something that has been missing the last few years: ace pitching.
With four games on the books, a quick look at Auburn’s season statistics shows how far the departure from last season has been. Standing atop the starters’ leaderboard for hits is Victoria Draper, who left Mexico hitting .375. KK Crocker has a .667 average with limited at-bats. The biggest surprise may have been Kendall Veach, who crushed two home runs against Oklahoma. Courtney Shea, one of the few recognizable names from last season, had a quiet yet solid, weekend with three hits and an RBI. Haley Fagan, another veteran, was dreadful with just one hit in a team-high 11 at-bats. Whitney Jordan, was even worse, held to 0–6 and failing to reach base.
The Tigers are going through growing pains, rotating in a lot of new players. The current lineup doesn’t hit like previous teams. Instead of a lefty-heavy lineup with multiple slap hitters, there will typically be only two left-handed hitters, one being Kasey Cooper, and she will never slap hit.
Auburn will take Jane B. Moore field for the first time in 2017 against the SIUE Cougars on February 16 at 6:00 pm. Central time. The game will be on SEC Network+.