Auburn Softball Starts Fall Camp Under New Leadership
New Auburn Softball coach Mickey Dean (photo: Julie Bennett.al.com)
With the departure of softball coaches Clint and Corey Myers, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs worked fast to fill the vacant coaching spots in Auburn’s fastest growing program.
When the dismissal of Clint Myers was announced, I put together a list of potential replacement coaches that I would go after, if I were the AD. One of the major challenges that Jacobs faced was hitting home runs in back-to-back plate appearances. That is, finding coaches who could pick up where Myers left off. Anything less would be considered a drastic disappointment.
Until the Myers boys showed up on the Plains, Auburn’s softball program was largely irrelevant. With rival Alabama’s massive success on the field, another mediocre hire wouldn’t do. Jacobs got the best he could get in Myers, who immediately turned a floundering program with virtually no fan base into a massive crowd favorite with incredible success. Myers won back-to-back SEC Championships and took the Tigers to Oklahoma City multiple times.
Jacobs’ task was a daunting because most of the best coaches such as Oklahoma’s Patty Gasso were entrenched at elite programs. Therefore, I looked at successful assistant coaches, and one name kept coming up: James Madison’s Mickey Dean. He was the number-one name on my list because of doing elite things at a mid-major school. So I wasn’t surprised when he was announced as Auburn’s next softball coach.
James Madison has been a contender for the last several years and is essentially the only elite program not from a powerhouse school or major conference.
The remaining questions: who would he bring in and would he let any of current Auburn coaches go?
The lone remaining major leaders from the Myers era were manager Hunter Veach and assistant coach Scott Woodard.
Until recently, Woodard’s bio was listed on Auburn’s softball website, next to new head coach Mickey Dean, but is not on the coaches page. Hunter Veach was still listed as manager and is on the coaches page.
Last week on our podcast, fellow columnist Derrick Roberts and I discussed who might round out the Auburn staff. I said at the time it wouldn’t surprise me if there were more moves. This came on the heels of the announcement that Gerry Glasco and Annie Smith were being brought onto the staff.
With fall camp starting this week, I now find that Woodard is no longer listed as a coach, although Veach remains as team manager. Annie Smith will likely take over as head recruiter from Woodard and was the head recruiter at Mississippi State before joining the LSU staff. AuburnTigers.com has writeups about Smith and Glasco.
Both these coaches are recognized for their offensive coaching prowess, an area where Auburn regressed last season as batting averages and home-run numbers plummeted. The regression at the plate was offset by phenomenal pitching, going from pitch-to-contact to a strikeout machine under Myers.
Glasco will be the lead man on hitting. He helped Texas A&M boots trap its program, producing a line of .300/.400/.500. The Aggies hit 213 home runs and scored 6.1 runs per game in his three-year tenure. Auburn hit 236 homers in that period, which included more post-season play and a 99 home-run season in 2015. Auburn dropped to 89 homers in 2016 and just 51 in 2017.
The softball team went to work this week to prepare for the fall schedule. Obviously, the Tigers aren’t playing any premier teams, but all twelve contests will be at Jane B. Moore field. The first contest will be on October 14th in a triple header that will deliver a great bang for the buck for softball fans.
The outfield seems to be set, and the pitching rotation will be among the league’s best. However, the infield will be a work in progress. Auburn will have significant movement in the starting lineup, losing a ton of starts with the departures of seniors Kasey Cooper and Haley Fagan and Carlee Wallace’s transfer. Kendall Veach will probably move to catcher while Tannon Snow looks like a sure bet at first base and her sister Taylon Snow will likely start at shortstop as a true freshman. Third base will be open to competition.
You can find the practice schedule here.
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