Jan. 14, 2009

Courtesy of Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. - The Auburn softball team is one week into its practice schedule in preparations for the opening of the 2009 season at the Florida International Tournament in Miami, Feb. 6-8.

"The first week has been very good," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "The players have had a great work ethic and attitude. We have seen a lot of positives."

The Tigers return 12 players from last season's squad that advanced to the NCAA Regionals in College Station, Texas, and finished the season with a 38-22 overall record.

"Going to NCAA's last year really served as motivation for the team during the offseason," Deese said. "Last year's freshmen know what it takes to get there and everyone has the desire to get back."

Auburn will be led by seniors Myesha Finney, Tatiana Fernandez and Taryn Gary. Finney was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Defensive Team in 2008. Fernandez led the Tigers in RBI, on-base percentage and was tied for the team high in home runs. Gray led the Tigers in hitting for most of the season and finished second on the team in hits and RBI.

"Our seniors have done a great job stepping up and leading the way," Deese said. "They each understand what's expected of them and they are fully committed."

Auburn begins the FIU Tournament with a 10 a.m. game against Jacksonville University and a 2 p.m. game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Feb. 6. The Tigers will then play FIU at 3 p.m. and North Carolina at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7. Auburn closes the tournament with an 8:30 a.m. game against Louisville on Feb. 8.

"We will be able to size ourselves up pretty quickly at this tournament," Deese said. "We will see some quality teams."
 
The Tigers will open their home schedule Feb. 13-15, with the Tiger Invitational Tournament and follow that with the War Eagle Classic tournament Feb. 20-22. In SEC play, Auburn hosts Ole Miss March 7-8, South Carolina March 28-29, Florida April 1, Georgia April 18-19, and LSU May 2-3.