#24 Auburn Softball 2015 Preview

Auburn Tigers

Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: # 8 SEC
#24 Auburn Softball 2015 Preview
Auburn Team Page


The Auburn softball program plays in one of the strongest conferences in the nation. Let’s just say the Southeastern Conference shows up for more sports than just football and basketball. Still, despite its impressive SEC pedigree, Auburn dropped off in the past few years, from 40 victories in 2011 to 33 in 2012 and 30 in 2013. After a 7-17 conference record, the team selected Clint Myers (Arizona State) as its next head coach, and all Myers did was take the program in a dramatic new direction. As the Tigers drilled homer after homer, the win total shot up to 42 and the Tigers earned another bid to the NCAA Tournament. The turnaround is not quite complete, but the program is in much better hands than it has been in recent seasons.

2014: 42-19-1, 11-13
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Clint Myers

Field Players:
The good news right away is Auburn retains most of its home-run pop from a year ago. Kasey Cooper (.418-18-77, 10 doubles, 74 hits) is a big threat at the plate, as she stands atop the lineup with a potent swing and an average that definitely stands out among the other players. Branndi Molero (.404-15-78, 12 doubles) also shows off plenty of power with her bat, and both players slugged over .700. Auburn slammed 79 home runs last year but didn’t have a lot of speed on the bases, as the team stole just 17 bases. Emily Carosone (.392-9-36) survived being hit by 33 pitches to post strong numbers, and Morgan Estell (.362-6-40) was also big at the plate. Together, these girls struck out a combined 73 times. Add Tiffany Howard (.277, 40 runs), McKenzie Kilpatrick (.243-8-28) and Jade Rhodes (.218-7-45) to the mix and this lineup looks pretty potent.

The pitching will also be strong. Lexi Davis (22-12, 2.89) struck out 145 batters a year ago, and Marcy Harper (17-5, 3.74) was a very effective second starter with 125 strikeouts. The two combined for 153 walks issued, which is more than Myers would have liked to see, but the fact is Davis and Harper will form a strong 1-2 punch. Rachael Walters can pitch, as can Jenna Abbott, but Abbott is also a first baseman and should see plenty of time in the infield. Pitching is one area where Auburn is more than set to begin 2015.

Who to Watch:
Cooper will be the big gun to watch come February. With just seven strikeouts in 177 at-bats, her contact rate is simply amazing. She also possesses a good amount of control at the plate, walking 43 times. With an on-base percentage of .527, that means she’s on base a little over once in every two at-bats. She doesn’t steal a lot of bases (two), but neither does the team so that won’t be much of an issue. Cooper could be among preseason players to watch in the SEC and the entire NCAA, because she’s as good as advertised.

Final Projection:
Auburn breezed through its fall schedule, but let’s face it, when you play the likes of Valdosta State, Southern Union State Community College and Columbus State, you are meant to sweep. The early season schedule looks less than intimidating, with Mercer, Eastern Illinois, Evansville and George Washington among the opponents, but the schedule picks up in March with Ohio State, Arizona State and Arizona. And that’s not even counting conference play. Enough power and pitching are back for the Tigers. The team could make a run at 50 victories, if all works out right. A better bet is continued improvement up to 45 wins and another berth in the NCAA tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kasey Cooper, IF, 177; Morgan Estell, IF/OF, 177
Hits: Kasey Cooper, IF, 74
Home Runs: Kasey Cooper, IF, 18
RBIs: Branndi Melero, OF, 78
Runs: Kasey Cooper, IF, 70; Emily Carosone, IF, 70
Stolen Bases: Emily Carosone, IF, 3; Morgan Estell, IF/OF, 3; Tiffany Howard, OF, 3

Wins: Lexi Davis, P, 22
Innings Pitched: Lexi Davis, P, 225.1
Strikeouts: Lexi Davis, P, 145
Complete Games: Lexi Davis, P, 24

Madness 2015 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#10 Carlee Wallace

Madness 2015 Draft Rankings:
#4 Branndi Melero


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