Coach Mickey Dean and his softball team have a chance to take a big step forward in improving the Tigers’ seeding for an NCAA Tournament bid and improve their standing in the eyes of Auburn fans in the process.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Tigers are scheduled to play games at Alabama, which is in a three-way tie for third place in the SEC with Auburn and Arkansas. Tennessee is the leader followed by Georgia.
With a strong showing vs. the Tide, combined with series wins vs. South Carolina and Mississippi State to close the regular season, the Tigers could be in position to earn an NCAA Tournament regional for Jane B. Moore Field, especially if Auburn does well in the SEC Tournament. That hasn’t happened since Clint Myers was coaching the Tigers.
As has been the case with previous Auburn teams coached by Dean the pitching has been strong, but the hitting leaves plenty to be desired. Going into the final three weeks of league play the pitching staff has a 2.28 earned run average vs. SEC batters to rank third in that category. Auburn’s batting average is just .228 vs. SEC pitching, which ranks ninth of the league’s 13 softball teams. Equally concerning is only Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are a combined 7-21 in league games, have a worse on-base percentage.
If the Tigers can warm up at the plate late in the season maybe that will get fans excited about showing up at Jane B. Moore Field to support was the potential to be Auburn’s most successful team in recent seasons.
• One of the more interesting possibilities for Coach Bruce Pearl’s basketball team to add to its 2023-24 roster via the transfer portal is a very familiar name to local fans. Devan Cambridge, who spent three seasons with the Tigers, left on good terms as a transfer to Arizona State to play last season with his brother, who is now out of eligibility.
After averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds while playing a key role as a defender for the Sun Devils, the 6-6, 215 guard/forward is interested in returning to the Plains where he would have one season of eligibility because of the Covid exception rule.
Even with the Tigers adding Florida International University transfer guard Denver Jones, who played at Buckhorn High near Huntsville, Auburn has room for Cambridge and others with Wendell Green deciding to try to play professionally plus freshmen Chance Westry and Yohan Traore transferring out.
• On the subject of transfers, NIL deals, like it or not, have become a major factor in why players are making moves from college to college in record numbers.
For example, at first glance it would seem to make no sense that defensive lineman Jeffrey M’ba would be leaving the AU football team. However, there is a really good chance that this move, like many others, was impacted with the grass being greener (financially) elsewhere.
• Auburn’s best chance for a national championship for the 2022-23 sports year ended in a close but no cigar finish in Ocala, Fla., at the World Equestrian Center. After defeating South Carolina in the quarter-finals and Oklahoma State in the semi-finals, the Tigers lost 11-8 to SMU in the championship round.
Coach Greg Williams and his staff have their program on such a solid foundation that it will be a surprise if the Tigers aren’t in the mix for the national title in 2024 and a sixth consecutive SEC title as well.
• Auburn is the host for this week’s SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament, which runs through Sunday at Yarbrough Tennis Center. The Tigers, who are 17-10 overall, finished the regular season 5-7 in league play to rank eighth. AU is ranked 17th nationally, which shows the strength of the league.
The 15th-ranked AU women’s team, which finished second at last year’s league tournament, goes into this season’s event at Arkansas with an 18-7 overall record. Auburn’s 8-5 league mark puts the Tigers fifth.
Mark Murphy is an award-winning journalist who covers Auburn for 247Sports.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.