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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Softball Senior Thanks

Close to My Heart

"You win some; you lose some. Some get rained out. You gotta dress for them all." -Satchel Paige

Most people who read my blogs know that softball is the sport in our family. My sister and I played competitively. My dad was one of our coaches. My first job was keeping the score books at the ball park.  A few years ago, we were able to return to softball when my nieces started playing. They have been playing for seven years now. This spring, we played in tournaments every weekend except for one. These girlies here are my very favorite. 1 and 4 are my nieces. 7 has played with us for years. Anyone who knows the game at all will understand and realize that there are ups and downs to every team and season. I have never been able to go see Auburn play in person because we are always playing. We keep hoping to see Auburn playing Univ of South Alabama, but it has not happened in recent years. I do not have pictures of any of the players, so I am using pictures of the future generation of softball. I know I talk about these three throughout this thanks, but my thanks is through them. 

As a group, I would like to thank these seniors. Through some extreme adversity, they have kept the team above water- even going above and beyond. They have led the team and been role models for the younger generation. They stuck with Auburn through some really tough times and for that, I am truly grateful. Some off the field "stuff" would've made it really easy to transfer, but none of these seniors did that at all. They remained committed to Auburn. I know the end result was not what they wanted this year, but anyone who has played ball knows that not every game goes the way it was expected to go. They are heroes to me, and I am very proud of all of them. Thank you for sticking it our with Auburn. We love all of you very much and we are very proud of all of you. Thank you for playing for all of us old ball players who were never able to play on the college level. Thank you for playing for the little girls who hope and dream to be there one day. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the three seniors for everything that has been done for Auburn softball. 

Kaylee Carlson- Before my niece started pitching, I never knew how lonely the pitcher's circle can be, even though I was a catcher. It takes a lot of inner strength to be a pitcher as well as physical strength. No one else sees that you do your Ts every day, even on days off. No one notices that when you have a bad day, EVERYONE sees it. No one knows that if you get off your rhythm, you might stay after a game trying to get back in rhythm. (Even if the game ended at 9:30 at night with school the next day) Thank you for all of your extra time. Thanks for bringing the kind of pitching to Auburn that you brought. Thank you for showing my niece that it is great to be a serious student and serious pitcher at the same time. Ems has spent time watching you and reading about you. She is a very serious student. She will be entering an honors program when she starts middle school next year.  (She even takes her books to tournaments and reads between games) I am forever grateful for your time and effort at Auburn. Your win at the World Series vs UCLA was something to remember for sure. It definitely gave everyone a love for softball, not just those like me. It was incredible! The seasons that ended in OKC sure were fun, but I have enjoyed watching you through all of it. Thank you for everything you have done for Auburn, both on and off the field. Thanks for being an awesome role model. You even responded to tweets encouraging my niece. She struggles the most with confidence and your attention helped her. Thanks for making an investment in the future generation. Please keep in touch with your Auburn family and know you will always have a home with us. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you. 

Courtney Shea- I played catcher. I know it is DEFINITELY an unsung hero type of position except when the catcher is making a spectacular tag out at home plate.  My other niece, (the twin of the one who pitches) has been catching. She has done pretty well. She has really enjoyed watching you. They do not often get to watch live on tv, since they have played non-stop tournaments the last fall and spring. She has frequently gone back and watched some videos of you making tags on their DVR. She also would watch some bits of the games on the computer. You never know when your number will be called, and yours was called. Boy, did you answer. Thank you for being ready. Ella had to jump in when the other catcher broke her thumb. (I did that myself catching)I know that as a catcher, you get banged up more than anyone can possibly imagine. Thank you for everything you did for Auburn. We also had fun watching two Auburn athletes become a power couple! Thank you also for being a model that it is ok to be a good student and a great athlete. Thank you for being an excellent role model for the younger generation.  We are very grateful for the fun and joy Auburn softball has brought into our lives. I am very excited to see what the future holds for you. I know we are going to hear great things from you. Please keep in touch with your Auburn family. 

Victoria Draper-You surely did make outfield exciting! You have made some spectacular catches over the last few years. I hear LOTS of griping from parents about their kid playing outfield, but often, kids don't make the catches when the ball does come out to the outfield. Thanks for showing that outfield can be played with excellence and with flair! You also played with a joy that rubbed off on your teammates. Thank you for your enthusiasm and joy. Thanks also for setting a Christian role model for your teammates, coaches and the future players. It was definitely noticed and appreciated. Ella is very much a utility player. She has played outfield when called upon. She has really liked some of the spectacular catches you have made. Your catch against Florida State was so incredible that she drew a picture of it later. Also thank you for showing that it is ok to be a good student and an athlete as a female. Both of my nieces are good students. She also recently became a Christian, so she has been interested in your message. You have been and continue to be an incredible role model.  Little ones are always watching. Thank you for being  the type of player they can watch. Thank you for your time and dedication to Auburn. It means more to me than you will ever know. The other niece is left-handed. While she is not a slapper, she has enjoyed watching you bat. I know we are going to hear great things from you in the future. Please keep in touch with your Auburn family and know that you will always have a home with us. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Summertime Football

While technically it is still spring, around these parts, 90 plus degrees and warm breezes mean only one thing: Summertime Football!

We will start our series of Summertime Football posts with an overall look at the program, and work our way toward the upcoming season, our opponents, and the potential to make the postseason playoffs.

The here and now.

Coaches are on tour speaking at various clubs and organizations, drumming up support and enthusiasm for Auburn football. All the while, recruiting, in one way or another, is foremost on the minds of these coaches.

All of Auburn's coaches are limited by NCAA regulations to just a few hours each week with the team during the summer. The lone exception is the strength and conditioning program.

The Tigers received commitments from several prospective student athletes for the upcoming recruiting classes. I won't rank them, or list them in any order of importance. I will say, this has the makings of another stellar group of young men.

The current team is hopefully working with each other, becoming closer, and getting better. That is the mission during the summer "Voluntary Workouts."

What I want to see.

As this team works its way to the start of the season, I want to see zero off the field problems. I want to see guys make big improvements, especially in areas we know we have little experience.

Experience as Coach Grimes says “There ain’t but one way to get experience. … and that’s to get experience, You can’t wish experience on ’em, you can’t pray experience on ’em. You got to throw them in and let them play. That’s the only way, and you’re going to have some growing pains. You just are." - ***via Justin Ferguson and SEC Country Auburn

How do "we" look.

Auburn's defense looks to be a very strong and experienced unit. Three years with the same coordinator, Kevin Steele, should pay big dividends considering the marked improvements the last two defensive unit made. This unit should truly be elite.

The offense will be in its second season under Chip Lindsey.  I look to see the maturation of Coach Lindsey's playcalling. I also hope to see some in game adjustments. Those adjustments need to be made quickly. The ability to adjust to what your opponent is doing during the game is fundamental. Championship teams can make adjustments on the fly, and not have to wait for time outs or halftime.

With the return of Jarrett Stidham, the expectations are high. The biggest concern is along the offensive line. Let's be honest here, this unit underperformed at times last season. 

The other area of concern is at the Running Back position. I have zero doubt Auburn has recruited guys who can tote the rock. Blitz recognition, and blocking in space need to improve tremendously, or there will be a lot of problems offensively.

Something inside of me believes our special teams are going to make improvements by leaps and bounds. Oh, it will be difficult to get better than Daniel Carlson, I agree. Legatron² otherwise known as Anders Carlson, the younger brother of Daniel, is expected to be the starting Kicker.

Christian Tutt is turning heads in the Kick Off return department, and the switching of special teams coordinators may help as well.

The future.

I will look into the schedule, upcoming opponents, and give you my best guess how this team will fare while facing one of the toughest schedules in all of college football.

Lets get through the summer unscathed by drama and injury. Get to fall camp with a mission in mind as a team. The future is bright, which is a very good thing. Just don't stare at the brightness, it may cause you to lose sight of the goal.

Until then,

*** Be sure to follow @JFergusonAU on Twitter