#36 Auburn Softball Preview

Auburn University

Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #7  SEC
Auburn College Softball 2012 Preview Logo
Auburn Team Page

The Tigers open the 2012 season February 9th with the first of nine consecutive home games. They advanced to the semi-finals of the SEC last season and earned an NCAA Regional berth after finishing third in the Western Division of the SEC. “I'm excited to get things going," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said.  "We have several new players and I'm looking forward to seeing this group gel as a team.” The Tigers return 14 lettermen from last season, including  Morgan Estell, who earned Freshman All-SEC honors. Deese noted that with the addition of five players to the program there will be competition at each position during the fall. The Tigers had wins over seven teams ranked in the NCAA Top 25 last year and should improve that mark in 2012. The Tigers' 2012 schedule features 13 teams that advanced to NCAA Regionals last season, seven teams that reached Super Regionals and five teams that advanced to the NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) in Oklahoma City, Okla.

2011: 40-19, 15-13
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tina Deese

Field Players:
The Tigers graduated four seniors and batted .279 as a team.  The two top hitters, Lauren Guzman (SS) and Morgan Estell (OF) return. Guzman has started every game the past three seasons, a streak of 175 games. She batted .315 and stole 12 of 15 bases in 2011 and was named to the All-SEC Tournament Team. Estell led the team with a .376 batting average and hit six homers and drove in 30 runs. She can also play first base in addition to the outfield. Hilary Mavromat, one of the team’s five pitchers, can also play first base.  She batted .250, and can possibly replace Kelley Smiley (.321) who graduated. Kyndal White, who batted .261 at the hot corner, graduated and will stay around as a fifth year student coach. She was one of three players to hit six homers apiece to lead the team. Also graduated from the infield was second baseman Kelsey Cartwright (.303). Amber Harrison, who has started 60 consecutive games, batted .252 and can play either first or the outfield.

All of the team’s five pitchers are returning, Hilary Mavromat, Alyssia Palomnio, Angel Bunner, Jenee Loree and Lauren Schmalz, with the last three doing the majority of the pitching in 2011. Bunner started the season 5-0, was 7-5 in the SEC and finished the year 16-7 with a 1.53 ERA, third best in Auburn history. Loree was 9-6 with 2.54 ERA and 112 strikeouts while Schmalz was 15-6 with 147 strikeouts in 128.2 innings. She ranked 49th in Division One pitching with eight strikeouts per seven innings, but she also allowed 21 homers in her 21 appearances. Doing the catching will be Elizabeth Eisterhold (.219, .994 fielding percentage), Caitlin Schultz (.190) and freshman McKenzie Kilpatrick.

Final Projection:
This is a veteran team that has players who are versatile and should improve on last year’s record and have a chance to advance in the NCAA Tournament.  But defense hurt the Tigers late in the season, especially in the Regional final, and they must improve in that category if they are to make a run at post season laurels. They finished the season with a fielding percentage of .963, making 61 errors in 59 games.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Lauren Guzman, IF, 188
Hits: Morgan Estell, OF, 62
Home Runs: Morgan Estell, OF, 6
RBIs: Lauren Guzman, IF, 31
Runs: Morgan Estell, OF, 38
Stolen Bases: Lauren Guzman, IF, 12

Wins: Angel Bunner, P, 16
Innings Pitched: Angel Bunner, P, 156
Strikeouts: Lauren Schmalz, P, 147
Saves: Angel Brunner, P, 2; Lauren Schmalz, P, 2

Madness 2012 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#15 Danae Hays