Auburn softball will open the 2018 season against Marshall on February 8, 2018, in its opening weekend tournament. Find the times and information to how to watch online below in SEC Country’s season preview of the No. 13 Tigers below.
AUBURN, Ala. — Last season, Auburn softball had several locks in the starting lineup with star players such as Kasey Cooper, Haley Fagan and Carlee Wallace.
This season, under new head coach Mickey Dean, Auburn must find replacements for that offense-heavy trio with a young roster of versatile talents. And nothing is set in stone yet for Dean.
“We have ideas,” Dean said. “We’re two deep at every position in the infield. We feel comfortable where we are defensively. Now it’s going to come down to who’s hitting.”
Take Kendall Veach, for example. Auburn’s top returning hitter could start at third base in place of Cooper. But she might stay at first base. She’ll also be a possibility with senior Courtney Shea at catcher, where the Tigers have to replace Wallace.
Dean likes the depth Auburn has established over the course of spring practices. Junior infielder Casey McCrackin has worked at second base, shortstop and third base in practices. There’s a three-deep competition in left field.
Highly touted true freshman Taylon Snow will most likely start at shortstop, while her older sister Tannon will take over the designated player role after missing the entire 2017 season due to illness.
“The thing about Tannon is not letting her get frustrated, because she hasn’t seen a lot of live pitching,” Dean said. “That’s what’s been nice since she’s come back in January. There’s a lot more consistency there, and you can really see it in her at-bats. Her confidence is there. Her swing is there. She looks like a completely different ballplayer.”
Auburn’s outfield has two surefire starters in speedy senior Victoria Draper and sophomore Alyssa Rivera. Draper should be turned loose offensively and on the basepaths this season after mostly slapping and infrequently stealing last season. Rivera, a preseason All-SEC pick, is Auburn’s top 5-tool player in the field.
“Three weeks ago, I was worried about who could get the job done,” Dean said. “Now, they’re kind of stepping it up a little bit and making it more difficult to do a starting lineup. You’ve got some kids who have stepped up and are ready. So that’s a good problem to have.”
That versatility continues into the pitching staff, where Auburn added freshmen Chardonnay Harris and Kara Bilodeau to a veteran unit of preseason All-SEC starter Kaylee Carlson, No. 2 ace Makayla Martin and the rising Ashlee Swindle. Harris is a lefty with plenty of movement on her pitches, while Bilodeau is a harder-throwing righty.
“I’m pleased with our depth, especially with the younger pitchers,” Dean said. “They’re very different. Velocity-wise, pitch-wise, they’re very different. So we can kind of mix and match a little bit, which is kind of nice.”
Dean, who coached 2017 national player of the year Megan Good at James Madison, is known for developing strong pitchers. He’ll stress more of a power approach after years of pitching to contact for Auburn.
The action gets underway Thursday with Dean’s first game in charge against solid mid-major team Marshall, followed by a matchup against Wichita State. Auburn is set to face Tennessee Tech and Furman on Friday, with Saturday and Sunday’s original schedules subject to change due to weather.
“I want to see excitement, energy,” Dean said. “I don’t want us to be anxious, but I want us to understand the urgency of being ready. … But as long as we’re playing with a great deal of effort and a great deal of energy, we’ll be just fine.
“Consistency and communication and offensively, we want to be able to make adjustments. That’s kind of my goals for this team this weekend.”
What time does Auburn softball play in the Plainsman Invite this weekend?
- Thursday, Feb. 8
- Marshall (4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT)
- Wichita State (6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT)
- Friday, Feb. 9
- Tennessee Tech (3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT)
- Furman (5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. CT)
- Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11 (TBD – weather)
How can I watch Auburn softball play this weekend?
The Thursday doubleheader against Marshall and Wichita State will not be streamed online, but SEC Country will have live at-bat updates of the game — along with the rest of the games this weekend. The Friday doubleheader is set be streamed on SEC Network+ through ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app. Saturday and Sunday, if played, are also scheduled to be streamed on SEC Network+.
2018 Auburn softball projected depth chart
- C: Courtney Shea, Kendall Veach, Abby Tissier, Breanna Gutierrez
- 1B: Justus Perry, Kendall Veach, Dakota Morrow
- 2B: KK Crocker or Casey McCrackin, Makenna Dowell
- SS: Taylon Snow, Makenna Dowell
- 3B: Kendall Veach, Casey McCrackin, Makenna Dowell
- LF: Morgan Podany, Jenna Olszewski, Brittany Maresette
- CF: Victoria Draper, Bree Fornis
- RF: Alyssa Rivera, Morgan Podany
- P: Kaylee Carlson, Makayla Martin, Ashlee Swindle, Chardonnay Harris, Kara Bilodeau