The series I'm most looking forward to this weekend features Auburn hosting Alabama tonight (7:30 Central), Saturday (5:00), and Sunday (1:00). Auburn is ranked No. 6 and Alabama No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, whereas the positions are reversed in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
Whereas Alabama has already achieved elite national status, winning the 2012 NCAA title and making the 2014 final round, Auburn is trying to reach a similar tier. That effort was given a big boost when, after the 2013 season, Auburn hired Clint Myers away from Arizona State, where had led the Sun Devils to two NCAA titles (article).
Former Auburn coach Tina Deese had a strong record of getting to the NCAA tournament, doing so eight of the last 10 years before she was fired two years ago. Auburn has never made it to the Women's College World Series or a super-regional, however. In 2014, with Myers in his first season at the Auburn helm, the Tigers nearly reached their first super-regional.
This year's Tiger squad fared well in the Judi Garman Classic during the non-conference part of their schedule and are 12-3 thus far in the SEC, having lost one game each in series vs. Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. However, Auburn has not yet played the toughest part of its schedule. The going will be a lot tougher from here on out, with the Alabama series this weekend, and a series at No. 3 LSU May 1-3. Auburn and Florida don't meet each other in regular-season SEC play this year.
This weekend's series should tell us whether Auburn is finally ready for prime time!