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New Look Tigers Split Doubleheader in Mexico

By on February 10th, 2017 in News, Other Sports 23 Comments »
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Auburn pitching was superb at the Triple Crown softball tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)

Two years ago, Triple Crown set up an invitation-only softball tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that included historical powerhouse programs. The addition of the Auburn Tigers might have been a  gamble on a fledgling program, but it paid off. The first game of the 2017 softball season featured a rematch of the 2016 Women’s College World Series with No. 1 Oklahoma taking on No. 2 Auburn.

Auburn breezed through its fall schedule despite playing multiple lineups. During this period, there was a feeling that this Auburn team would be different from the WCWS runners-up simply because of player turnover. Gone were stars from the previous two years. In their place would be young but talented players. What would the future hold?

 

Auburn took on Oklahoma in a retribution game, and Courtney Shea struck first. The player who saw the last pitch of the 2016 season, grounding out to end the Tigers’ hopes of a National Championship in their first WCWS appearance, stood in the batter’s box with runners in scoring position. Now a sophomore designated hitter, she responded with a RBI single, driving in the first run of the 2017 softball season. It was a fitting start for the Tigers.

Elsewhere, Kendall Veach started in place of freshman Tannon Snow, who stayed home with an undisclosed illness. Fans had limited expectations for Veach as Snow showed why she was a top recruit in the fall. After a first inning strikeout with multiple runners aboard, Veach struck back in the third with her first home run that rocketed over right center, never seeming to get more than ten feet off the ground.

The Tigers looked to continue their high-scoring ways and took a 2–0 lead into the fourth. Superb pitching by Makayla Martin and another homer by Veach in the seventh inning kept the Sooners in check. Oklahoma got on the  board with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but the Tigers won 3–2.

Although no one should question a win of this magnitude, there was an uneasy feel to the game. Gone was the lefty-heavy lineup that featured multiple slap hitters, including legend Tiffany Howard who seemed to put every ball into play. These Tigers did a terrific job earning walks and getting on base, but Auburn was unable to produce run-scoring hits, even though two of their seven hits went for extra bases. Tiger hitting looked more like baseball than softball, maybe due to Cody Myers returning from the San Diego Padres for a second stint with the Tigers. 

Auburn’s second game of the evening against Washington began similarly to the first. In the first inning Auburn earned three straight walks with Carlee Wallace scoring on the second wild pitch of the inning. Despite the Huskies racking up eight hits, going into the final frame the Tigers  led 1–0 on just four hits. Time after time, the Tigers got out of jams, but the Huskies managed a run in their final at-bat to tie the game. Auburn could not do anything in the bottom of the seventh, and the game went to extra innings.

Washington continued to pile on the hits and finally scored a single run in the 10th. Despite a Wallace single in the bottom of the tenth, Auburn was unable to score. The Tigers dropped the game to the Huskies just hours after beating the nation’s best team, knocking some of the shine off the day.

One player, in particular, had a lot of shine knocked off.  Kasey Cooper, who collected nearly every accolade possible for a student athlete, including a stint with Team USA, looked remarkably human. Last year’s three-hole hitter moved into the lead-off slot, possibly to force opponents to pitch to her. Yesterday she struggled and had just one hit. Her 0–3 effort with a single walk against Washington surely stung.

Perhaps what stung even more was Cooper’s struggles in the field. Officially, she had just one error, but she mishandled multiple balls that led to at least two infield singles. And, Cooper wasn’t the only player to struggle in the field. Despite a spectacular grab by Victoria Draper, the Tigers, overall, didn’t look sharp. Surprisingly, it was veterans such as Cooper and shortstop Haley Fagan who never looked to be on the same page. Coach Myers said as much in the preseason, stating that the entire team could hit, it was just a question of who could field. 

The Tigers return to action today against Nebraska at 1:00 PM CST. The game is not slated to be televised. 

23 Comments

  1. Im4Auburn says:

    Wished they could have won game 2 but I’m excited that Auburn softball is back! Looking for another great year.

  2. Older Whiskey says:

    According to the softball homepage, the game today starts at 2:00 Central. it advertises Gametracker, but that didn’t work for the Oklahoma game.

    Starting the season with this level of competition is an experiment. We’ll know if it was successful in a couple of months. We faced two top-tier pitchers yesterday. Lowary was the bellcow for Missouri last year; I didn’t know she had transferred to OK until I saw her warming up. Good move by Gasso.

    I think our ladies got a little fatigued in the second game. Flying down the day before and the stress of playing the Sooners in the first game had to take a lot out of them. Washington, on the other hand was playing their first game. Too bad we didn’t scratch another run across in that first inning when Alvero was vulnerable. Like Im4Auburn, I’m happy that softball is back.

  3. gary says:

    I can’t get enough of auburn softball, so how about writing an article on them every day. If you need material, write a bio on each player like the story I read on Kasey Cooper last year. Why isn’t todays game being televised?

  4. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    FINAL — Auburn 3 – Nebraska 2

  5. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Going into the bottom of the 4th – AU and BYU still tied at Zero…

  6. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    So the Tiger bats came alive in the bottom of the 4th with a little help from BYU – starting things off with a HBP and a walk – and finishing with a 3-0 lead. Heading to the top of the 5th.

    Starting the 5th:

    BYU: 0-1-0
    AU: 3-3-1

  7. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    A single and a walk allowed BYU two runners on but AU overcame that and we head to the bottom of the 5th up 3-0…

  8. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Fagan walked to start the bottom of the 5th and then advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. Next three batters all flied out to LF stranding the runner at second.

    End of 5 and AU still leading 3-0 over BYU…

  9. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Cougars had two base hits but end up stranding both runners to end the top of the 6th, AU still up 3-0.

    BYU: 0-4-0
    AU: 3-3-1

    And, in case you are wondering, the error occurred in the 2nd inning and charged to Cooper for a fielding error…

  10. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Three up and three down for AU in the bottom of the 6th. Heading to the 7th with AU 3 outs away from taking this one for the W.

  11. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    BYU not going away quietly — Alldredge doubled to left center; Ireland grounded out to 3rd; Hancock reached on another error by Cooper so, with one out in the bottom of top of the 7th, BYU has runners on 1st and 2nd with one out…

  12. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Merrell reaches on a Fielder’s Choice – Hancock out at second. Two outs with runners on the corners for BYU…

  13. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    And, Jensen grounds out to 3rd and that will put a wrap on it. AU winning this one 3-0 to finish their Mexico trip at 3-1 overall.

    Final box score:

    BYU: 0-5-0
    AU: 3-3-2

    Overall, not at all a bad trip – getting some level of revenge against OK was sweet and it took 10 innings for the Huskies to overcome our Tigers.

    AU then put Nebraska away 3-2 and then, today, wrapped things up with a 3-0 win against BYU.

  14. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Great little live thread! I hadn’t realized that today’s game would be televised, even on WatchESPN. My wife and I are having a rare Saturday where both of us are off work, and we went out for lunch, taking advantage.

  15. digger4au digger4au says:

    Thanks for the coverage I couldn’t find it anywhere.
    Really a good start to the season 3-1. Go Lady Tigers.

  16. GBAU83 says:

    Very good start for the Ladies. Would have loved to go 4-0, especially after we beat OU in the first game. But UW is not slouch and they beat OU as well, but also lost to BYU. Just shows a very strong field in the tournament, so getting out with a 3-1 record is a very good start.

    Also, love the irony that Courtney Shea was responsible for getting our first run of the season against the team she made the last out of year. I know it had to make her feel a lot better to exercise that demon.

    Cooper – uncharateristic is all that can be said. We know she will not get any good pitches (wherever in the line-up she bats) and from what I know of her, the errors are done. She got them out her system now and more focus on what she needs to do.

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