File Photo: Anna Walker / The Daily Gamecock

Softball set to play Auburn powerhouse

South Carolina's softball team will have a huge opportunity to bolster their resume when they go on the road to face No. 3 Auburn this weekend. The Tigers are built around one of the most potent offenses in the country and average 9.73 runs per game, the best mark in Division I softball. 

Auburn's lineup is anchored around All-American third baseman Kasey Cooper. Cooper was one of the premier hitters in college softball during her sophomore year but is putting up even better numbers as a junior. She is currently hitting .476 with a .964 slugging percentage and nine home runs. Cooper also plays stellar defense at the hot corner. 

While Cooper might be the linchpin of Tigers order, she still has a strong supporting cast. Senior outfielder Tiffany Howard is a catalyst at the top of their lineup and also owns an impressive .453 batting average. On the mound, Auburn is equally strong, and as a staff they have compiled a minuscule 1.65 ERA.

The Gamecocks will rely on their strong core of arms to counter Auburn's juggernaut offense. South Carolina discovered an ace in Jessica Elliott, a transfer from Chipola College. Elliott has held opposing batters to a .231 batting average. Paired with junior Nickie Blue, South Carolina has a formidable rotation.

The Gamecocks will also look to ride the hot streak of senior center fielder Ansley Ard. Ard is the reigning recipient of the SEC Player of the Week award. During her big week, she hit two game-winning home runs, one being a walk-off against Georgia last Sunday. Ard is currently leading the Gamecocks with a .397 batting average and a .621 slugging percentage. 

The Gamecocks and Tigers will open the three-game set Friday at 7 p.m.

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