#4 Auburn Softball 2016 Preview

Auburn Tigers
Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #2 SEC
Auburn Logo
When Auburn hired Clint Myers it was a sign of a total commitment to making Tigers an elite program in women’s college softball with tremendous staying power. Coach Myers led Auburn to its first of what will be likely many trips to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series last season. The Tigers can light up the scoreboard offensively as they scored 526 runs last season and have enough pitching depth that is capable of winning on any given day.
2015: 56-11, 18-6
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Clint Myers
Field Players:
Auburn offensively displays a great deal of discipline at the plate as they simply don’t chase a ton of bad pitches over the course of a long season. They drew an impressive 356 walks last season. Senior infielders Jade Rhodes and Emily Carosone along with junior infielder Kasey Cooper will lead a very deep and balanced lineup this season. This trio combined for 57 homeruns, while driving in 202 runs, and they were just absolutely lethal at times for the Tigers. Redshirt junior infielder Haley Fagan will also be a key contributor after hitting .347 last season with 13 homeruns and 56 RBIs.
It will be more of a pitcher by committee situation for Auburn in 2016. They have multiple arms to get the job done and can save wear and tear on arms over the course of a long season. Lexis Davis and Rachel Walters will be the two primary starting pitchers in 2016. Davis was 26-3 with a 3.91 earned run average and took advantage of getting plenty of run support. Walters will attack you a bit more than Davis does as Walters struck out 118 batters in 149.1 innings. This staff does need to try and reduce the amount of homeruns allowed from last season as 61 is a bit high. If they can get that number under 50 they should be in great shape.
Who to Watch:
Senior outfielder Tiffany Howard balances out the power element of the Tigers offense very well. She hit .415, while collecting 86 hits and is one of the best defensive outfielders in all of college softball. Sophomore catcher Carlee Wallace did a nice job behind the plate last season in handling the pitching staff, along with producing some solid offensive numbers. She hit eight homeruns, drove in 29 runs and only committed two errors. Senior Pitcher Marcy Harper should push Davis and Walters for time in the circle after going 12-5 last season with a 3.95 earned run average while making 21 starts. The experience that Harper has should continue to serve as a nice calming influence for the rest of the staff and Wallace behind the plate.
Final Projection:
The schedule is very home heavy in the early portion of the season with a nice mix of tests for this Auburn squad. Western Kentucky on February 12 will visit the Tigers as part of the Plainsman Invite. A single mid-week game down in Orlando against UCF prior to the Michelle Smith PCF Invitational will be another great test for the Auburn hitters. During SEC play, the Tigers will find out right away where they stand as they get their shot against Florida at home in what will be one of the best series of the year in all of college softball. If Auburn can handle being the hunted, especially on the road against Mississippi State, Kentucky and Tennessee and can win the Florida series, they should be right in the mix for the SEC Championship and should be able to score more than enough runs to get back to the Women’s College World Series.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Haley Fagan, IF, 199
Hits: Tiffany Howard, OF, 86
Home Runs: Jade Rhodes, IF, 19
RBIs: Emily Carosone, IF, 80
Runs: Emily Carosone, IF, 88
Stolen Bases: Kasey Cooper, IF, 7
Wins: Lexi Davis, P, 26
Innings Pitched: Lexi Davis, P, 152.1
Strikeouts: Rachel Walters, P, 118
Saves: Rachel Walters, P, 4
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#71 Makaya Martin
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#4 Emily Carosone