“Time for college softball teams to focus as season winds down; Auburn Tigers on track for best season in school history” Written By Bill Plummer
As the college softball season winds down, it is more important than ever for teams to have their focus as conference and at-large berths will be on the line in the next couple of months. Ultimately eight teams will become the Elite Eight for 2015 and earn a berth in the prestigious Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, which will be celebrating its Silver Anniversary.
It will behoove all the Division One teams seeking a berth to keep focused and disciplined as the season winds down. Perhaps this is the year your college or university earns a berth in the WCWS. UCLA and Arizona, which between them have won 19 World Series, will hope to end their four year drought of not qualifying for the World Series,
If UCLA and Arizona want to end their drought they must first earn a berth in one of the Regionals, scheduled May 15-17, with the Super Regionals the following weekend. The Super Regionals is a best-of-three format with eight teams earning a trip to OKC for the WCWS.
So if your team has already had a good season, then earning a trip to Oklahoma City for the WCWS will make it even better. Some schools try to make an annual trip to OKC. That is easier said than done as many have found out since the NCAA took over the sponsorship of Division One softball in 1982 with a then 143 teams.
Today, more than 280 colleges and universities have Division One softball teams and nothing would be better to cap a season than a trip in OKC for the prestigious Women's College World Series. In past years, the eight team field in the WCWS was not balanced. There would one or two teams that were better than the remaining six with four others close together and two bringing up the rear. That day is gone because now any of the eight teams competing in OKC have a chance at winning it all. The overall parity of the eight-team field is a plus and that is because the overall parity level of Division One softball has gotten better in the last decade or so. This year alone the SEC has a competitive field of teams and the weekly rankings reflect that with no less than nine SEC teams ranked in the top 25 including defending champion Florida. The Gators, LSU and Oregon have gone back and forth with the No. 1 ranking depending on how each team did in a particular week. For now, or at least this week, Oregon is No. 1
If there is a surprise team in the rankings it could be Auburn. It's only a surprise if you don't know Clint Myers and his outstanding record. He won two NCAA World Series at ASU before taking the Auburn job June 14, 2013 and has turned the Auburn program into a top-ten team in less than three years. That is not surprising to those who know Myers. He turned around the ASU program and he is working on doing the same at Auburn. Auburn has competed in the NCAA tournament in the past (2002-2004-05-06-08-09-0-10-11-12-14), but has never qualified for the Elite Eight in Oklahoma City. Auburn has lost only six times this year after compiling a 42-19-1 record a year ago and advancing to the NCAA Regionals before losing in the finale. The 42 wins a year ago was the second most since the softball program was started in 1997, but this year could be the best year in the history of the program and you can bet the Tigers won't settle for anything less than a berth in the WCWS this year.
In 20 months Myers has turned the Auburn program into a contender and the Tigers are leading the SEC ahead of Florida and LSU. When he took the job, he said.”We will win a national championship at Auburn.”
Myers has Auburn fans believing in what he says because the Tigers have become the hottest ticket in town. Myers is not overconfident but he and others only have to look at his career and realize he wins.
“We've won every place we've ever been and there's a reason for that,” said Myers.”We are teachers of the game. We have a track record . We believe in ourselves as teachers. We believe we teach the game right, we teach the game to be played with commitment and discipline. When you do things the right way, good things happen. We also believe greatness is a way of life. That's how we live our lives and how we teach every aspect. When you have that same mentality passed down to the players, they buy in.” Obviously, the Tigers have bought in to Myers and his winning philosophy and maybe only the best is yet to come for the Auburn softball program.
Bill Plummer A graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than four decades. For 30years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian. In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show Manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2009, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2014, ” A Series of Their Own. The History of the Women's College World Series.” He has been elected to five halls of fame, including the ASA National. In 1996, he served as the Information Manager for the debut of softball in the Olympics.
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