Saturday - 4 PM, ESPN, 107.3 FM
Regular Season Recap
Auburn got off to a hot start dropping just one game in the non-conference schedule. After dropping its SEC opening series to Florida, Auburn got back to its winning ways and notched two very impressive sweeps of Kentucky and Georgia. The Tigers did not enter the tournament on the highest note, dropping back-to-back series to Tennessee and then Texas a&M to conclude the regular season.
The Auburn offense is powered by SEC Player of the Year Kasey Cooper. She led the league in slugging, finished second in on base percentage and fourth in average while hitting 19 home runs and driving in 73 runs. Cooper isn't the only exceptional bat in the Tiger lineup and the team as a whole finished second in average and slugging, and first in on base percentage. Auburn's 478 runs led the SEC with the next closest team, a&M, having just 406.
Auburn has one of the deeper staffs in the league, with four hurlers having logged 19 or more appearances on the season. Although they don't rack up tons of strikeouts, they rank in fourth in ERA and opponents batting average. The two most frequent starters are Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson, with Martin the likely starter Saturday after Carlson pitched Friday. Martin went 12-3 on the year with a 1.76 ERA and 59 strikeouts.
Tigers keys to success:
1. Quality in the field
Perhaps the most eye popping total for the Tigers during this run is zero, as in zero errors committed. What had been the biggest weakness for the Tigers entering the tournament has become one of the teams strengths through three games. With another excellent offense in Auburn, LSU must continue to be sharp in the field and prevent any excess runners from reaching.
2. Hoover Time
Carley Hoover has been used in all three games this series and it is likely she will pitch again on Saturday. Needless to say that while the Tiger pitching as a staff has been great, Hoover has risen above and needs to be just as sharp in the if LSU wants to claim the conference title.
Everything seems to be clicking for LSU to this point. They have faced teams with good offenses and good pitching and have succeeded. Against Auburn, LSU will once again need a combination of timely hitting and fantastic pitching, with the latter being the more critical to success. On offense, the Tigers seem to go where Sandra Simmons goes, so her performance at the top of the lineup may prove just as valuable as whichever pitcher Torina decides to deploy Saturday. Even though Auburn is great offensively, expect runs to be at a premium, as they were in the game against other quality offenses in UT and a&M. Although the Tigers might not have been the favorites entering the tournament, they stand just one game away from an SEC Championship and have shown all the neccesary pieces to make a title a reality.