Forty games into the 2019 season, the Auburn softball Tigers sit at 32-8 and No. 13 in the top 25. As they enter the thick of a grueling SEC schedule, head coach Mickey Dean’s squad is looking to finish the season out strong.
“I’ve thought we’ve had mostly good outings. Our hitters have done a nice job for the most part of making in-game adjustments. Our pitchers have done a real nice job of, you know, getting the hitting counts for the most part. And defensively, we’ve made some great plays,” Dean said.
At the plate, the Tigers have been led by senior infielders Kendall Veach and Casey McCrackin as well as junior infielder Tannon Snow. Veach has been the main source of power in the Auburn lineup as the Selma, Alabama native’s 16 home runs rank fourth nationally while her 41 RBIs also places among the best in the country.
As far as pitching goes, Auburn ace Makayla Martin is the top option for a rotation that ranks fifth in the conference in earned run average. Martin is 11-2 in 15 starts this season with an impressive 1.31 ERA, 10 complete games and five shutouts. However, a right-hand injury suffered in March will sideline the senior for “several weeks.”
“Well, when she’s healthy it always helps. Not only is she a great pitcher, but it gives us four pitchers,” Dean said about Martin. “She has a great deal of experience, which helps our younger pitchers as well. So, even though she’s not throwing right now, her experience and communication with our younger players helps.”
While Martin’s injury will be difficult for the team, Dean is confident that along with the veteran talent on the team, young players will continue to improve and contribute.
“Whether it’s Haley Nillen taking control of our pitchers in the bullpen or Aspyn Godwin with big pinch-hits, Taylon and Makenna working the outfield — we’ve had a lot of good young players step in and be impactful this season,” he said.
The Tigers, at times, play like one of the best teams in the country. And while their top-15 ranking is nothing to scoff at, Auburn is still only third in the conference standings behind rivals Alabama and LSU.
Just 13 games remain until the SEC tournament in May, and if the Tigers want to play up to their potential, Dean says there is one main thing that the team needs to work on.
“Consistency. You know, that’s the biggest thing when it comes to this game because we talk about it all the time — it’s a marathon,” he said.
Auburn will turn its attention to the Gamecocks of South Carolina as they open up a three-game home series against the conference opponent on Friday.