Auburn Softball Review—Bats Come Alive for Tigers
Victoria Draper was named the SEC Softball Player of the Week after Auburn's sweep in the Wilson/DeMarini Classic (photo: AuburnTigers.com).
It’s a month into the season, and Auburn softball is off to a great start at 23–2 and undefeated (18–0) at home. Perhaps the only criticism of the Tigers thus far has been the underwhelming offense. In past years, Clint Myers’ teams dominated the lesser opponents Auburn plays in preseason tournaments with hot bats before settling in for the long haul.
This season, coach Mickey Dean’s focus has been on great pitching, and Victoria Draper’s national-leading ability to steal every base on the diamond at will. “She gets our offense going,” Dean said of Draper. “She puts a lot of pressure on the defense and forces them to make mistakes.”
Dean picked up his 500th win when Auburn finished the weekend 6–0 in the Wilson/DeMarini Classic. It was a good tuneup for the SEC grind that begins this weekend against LSU in Baton Rouge. Auburn’s offensive output was crucial behind phenomenal pitching as Auburn outscored opponents 43–3.
A snapshot of each game after the jump.
Justus Perry notched her 5th double of the season as she cleared the bases with three RBI’s, and Alyssa Rivera had a double. KK Crocker added two RBI’s and Vic Draper was the only player with multiple hits. The Tigers had nine runs on nine total hits. Draper (22) and Rivera (1) added stolen bases. Makayala Martin, Chardonnay Harris and Kara Bilodeau teamed up in the circle to allow just three hits while adding six K’s. UNC–Wilmington had no answer to Auburn’s balanced attack as the Tigers closed them out 9–0.
Perry stayed white hot, going 3–3 at the plate with one RBI to go with a double. Taylon Snow and Makayala Martin had triples, with Martin making a surprise DP appearance for Morgan Podany. And Auburn added four home runs in the contest off the bats of Kendall Veach, Courtney Shea, Casey McCrackin, and Tannon Snow. The Tigers finished off Wesern Carolina with 10 hits and nine runs. Defensively, Kaylee Carlson allowed three hits in four innings of work, and Ashlee Swindle closed out the final inning with a strikeout.
Western Carolina was shut out again in game three but limited Auburn to just five runs in a 5–0 victory for the Tigers. Auburn’s three, four, and five hitters did the most damage as Taylon Snow, Justus Perry, and Courtney Shea had four of Auburn’s six total hits. One of Shea’s hits was a moon shot, her second of the year. Veach added her fifth long ball, and Perry hit her seventh of the year. Draper, Podany, and McCrackin abused the Catamounts with stolen bases. Draper added her 23rd while Podany and McCrackin each added their fifth. Martin, Swindle and Bilodeau teamed up again for four hits and nine K’s. Swindle allowed all four of the hits in three innings. Martin and Bilodeau were perfect in their four combined innings.
Western Illinois put up a fight as Auburn defeated them 6–2. Draper was 3–3 with an RBI triple while adding two stolen bases. Crocker and Veach added two hits apiece, and each had a stolen base. Taylon Snow added a double and two RBI’s, and Shea added another two RBI’s and a hit. Kaylee Carlson went the distance for Auburn, allowing seven hits and two runs. Auburn had two errors: Perry’s error at first didn’t hurt the Tigers, but Rivera’s fielding error in right allowed an unearned run. The other Western Illinois’ run might not have scored had a runner not advanced to third on a wild pitch, later scoring on a single to left field.
Auburn closed out the weekend with a 6–1 win over UNC–Wilmington. Perry did it again with her eighth double, scoring two runs. Veach added her second double. The trio of Draper, Podany and Crocker added stolen bases. Draper was the only multi-hit batter with two hits on the day. Crocker, Podany and Taylon Snow each added an RBI. The defense played well behind Carlson, Swindle, Harris, and Bilodeau. Swindle allowed one run on two hits. Carlson had two hits and three K’s in her four innings of work.
To put things in perspective for the kind of damage Vic Draper is doing, consider that last season Auburn had a total of 28 stolen bases on 32 attempts. This year, Draper is 29–31, and the team is a combined 64–79. Shea has also affected teams behind the plate, limiting them to 8–15 on stolen base attempts.
Auburn next takes on LSU in a 6:00 PM game on March 9 on the SEC Network.