AUBURN — The Auburn softball team was predicted to finish third in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division in 2010 in a preseason vote by league coaches, the SEC announced today.
"It's a nice place to start," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "A preseason poll is still a preseason poll. The SEC is always so tough. We play a highly competitive non-conference schedule, so hopefully that will prepare us for league play."
Auburn opens the 2010 season Thursday against defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Washington. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. CT and is Auburn's first game of the Kajikawa Classic tournament in Tempe, Ariz.
The Tigers' second game of the season is against 2008 national champion and preseason No. 5 Arizona State. Auburn and the Sun Devils play at 8 p.m. CT Friday.
Auburn will play each of the preseason top five teams in the nation in 2010, including No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida and No. 4 Michigan.
The Tigers finished the 2009 season 30-29 overall and advanced to the program's sixth NCAA Regional. Auburn features a pitching staff that goes five deep with each player having a year of SEC experience under their belts.
Senior hurler Anna Thompson is fourth in career wins at Auburn with 42 and earned All-SEC honors as a sophomore in 2008. Sophomore Jenee Loree tossed a pair of no-hitters during her 2009 freshman season and did not allow a run in her first 22.1 innings of work. Senior Holly Ragsdale earned a pair of SEC wins against Ole Miss and did not allow an earned run in relief appearances vs. No. 12 Tennessee, South Carolina and Mercer in her first season with the Tigers in 2009.
The Tigers also return sophomore catcher Elizabeth Eisterhold who threw out a league high 22 base runners in 2009. Eisterhold also led the Tigers with five game-winning RBI last season.
Auburn opens its 2010 home schedule by hosting the Tiger Invitational Feb. 19-21 at Jane B. Moore Field.
Points for the poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5 basis for the Eastern Division and on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. The league will begin softball action Feb. 5-8. The 2009 SEC Softball Tournament will be held
May 7-9 at Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.