BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Only eight teams remain, and any of the eight teams partaking in the College Softball World Series can win it all.
Alabama? Yep. The Crimson Tide have "been there done that," and the team is loaded with offensive power (Haylie McCleney) and strong pitching (Alexis Osorio, Sydney Littlejohn). Coach Pat Murphy has won a national championship, and this laid-back, laugh-a-minute team is poised to go all the way. But the winner of this College Softball World Series?
The team has now arrived in Oklahoma City from Lee County, Alabama.
The numbers the Auburn Tigers have put up this season are mind-boggling. Statistics aside, these Tigers are ready to take one more step than they took last spring when they went to the national semi-finals. Clint Myers is a multiple national championship coach (see Arizona State), and the Tiger's World Series bracket is certainly manageable.
And oh, those Auburn stats. After reading the achievements attained by these players this season (per Auburn University), even those who root for other teams in the series would be hard-pressed to doubt this Auburn squad:
- Auburn is 6-1 this season against the other 7 teams in the World Series.
- Auburn stands 54-10, now just 2 wins shy (behind last year’s squad) as the AU team with most wins in a season.
- This is just the third 50-win season in Auburn softball history.
- The Tigers rank #2 in the nation in runs per game (8.13).
- Auburn ranks 4th in the nation in on base percentage (.445).
- Kasey Cooper ranks 3rd in the nation in RBI’s (76) while Jade Rhodes ranks 8th (66).
- Cooper is tied for 9th in the nation in home runs (19), her HR total tying a school record set last year by Jade Rhodes.
- Auburn’s pitching staff has the nation’s 16th lowest earned run average (2.14).
- The Tiger’s pitching staff has an ERA of 1.58 in the post-season.
- Auburn is batting .323 as a team while opponents are batting only .218.
- The team’s 19 shut-outs are the second-most in program history.
- Auburn has 21 run-rule victories this season.
- Clint Myers has an all-time World Series coaching record of 16-12 with 9 appearances and 2 national titles.
This Auburn team may not be the 1927 Yankees, but as college softball goes, it's absolutely loaded with power (see Emily Carosone and Kasey Cooper), pitching (see Rachel Walters, Makayla Martin and Kaylee Carlson) and confidence (witness this team over the last few days).
The 2016 SEC champions have a team built to win it all.
One could argue that with such a strong World Series field, it's just too difficult to predict a winner. But if I had to pick ONE team to take home the hardware, it's that high octane team from Auburn.
And is anyone up for an Alabama-Auburn national championship game? Now then we'd have something!