AUBURN | It’s been a tumultuous month and more for Auburn’s softball players.
The Tigers returned to practice Wednesday, 35 days after the abrupt departure of head coach Clint Myers amid allegations of inappropriate contact and relationships between players and assistant coach Corey Myers, who left the team last March, right before a series at Georgia.
“Last year was pretty rough on all of us but coming back this year we all kind of just decided to leave it in the past,” senior pitcher Kaylee Carlson said. “We had a little setback and we had a new coach come in and we lost our coach, but all of us have kind of bonded together from what we've been through.
“I think that's only going to help us because no team is probably as mentally tough as we are because no team has gone through what we're going through right now.”
Cody Voga/Auburn athletics
Mickey Dean, who was hired away from James Madison Sept. 14, and his new staff put the players through their first fall practice Wednesday afternoon at Jane B. Moore Field.
“They’re a strong group. They’re a resilient group. They’re fun to work with,” Dean said. “They kid around with each other, which I like to see, but then they know when to be serious and when to turn it on.
“The biggest thing right now is, when they make a mistake, they really get down on themselves really quick. And I want them to just work through it. It’s all about effort. We’re not going to be perfect. We’ll get there. We’ll get there. But right now, let’s make mistakes being extremely aggressive.”
Dean worked a lot with the pitchers, which is his specialty, while batting coach Gerry Giasco and infield coach Annie Smith helped direct certain portions of the three-hour workout.
“He’s bringing a lot of energy. There’s a lot of energy,” said junior Kendall Veach, who worked at first and third base. “Right now he’s just really getting to know us so he’s on a kind of get-to-know you character. Right now I like his whole energy and his whole philosophy of how he coaches. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a good year.”
Auburn, which returns its top three pitchers plus a number of position players from last season, added a talented group of freshmen to the mix. The group will play its first fall game Oct. 14 with a doubleheader against Northwest Florida State and Enterprise State.
“It’s been a rough ride but for our team we were able to get by it. We’re going to get through it,” Veach said. “We’re just going to focus on the future and what our new coaches are going to bring to the team and everyone’s new character with the freshmen. We’re just ready for a new season and a new start.”