Monday, February 24, 2014

Dissecting Auburn Uniforms: Softball

For the fifth installment of the Dissecting Auburn Uniforms feature, it's time to give softball some love. Just like baseball, the softball team went under a coaching change during this past offseason. New head Coach Clint Myers (like him already!) was hired away from his alma matter Arizona State. A lot of things change in nearly every sport when a new coaching staff is hired. However, the stick and ball sports of baseball and softball typically have more change than other sports. One thing that baseball/softball coaches have a bit more control over than other sports (say football) is the uniforms.

Just like baseball, the softball team has a good bit of combinations they can wear through out the year. The girls have at least three different tops and three pants - grey, white, and blue. The blue and grey jerseys have "AUBURN" across the chest in white with orange outline and blue with white then orange outlines respectively. Both have numbers with the same outlining, including a front number. Now, the odd thing is that the white tops aren't like the other two. The white jerseys have "TIGERS" across the chest. Back in the post I had about some baseball uniform news, I wrote about the Auburn Athletic Department was trying to push Auburn over Tigers in nearly every single thing they did. That is the reason the baseball team doesn't wear "TIGERS" anymore, even though the players wanted to do so. The softball team has worn these same white jerseys since the 2011 season. I emailed Jay Jacobs about this topic and haven't heard back. Hopefully I can get to the bottom of that soon. 

Remember when I said coaching changes typically change the uniforms? Baseball head coach Sunny Golloway makes his team wear stirrups every game, when they rarely wore them before. Softball coach Myers, well, he took the stirrups away. For the 2012-2013 season, the softball team wore stripped stirrups for every game. Sadly, Coach Myers has taken them away. His team didn't wear them at Arizona State, so he obviously isn't a fan of them.You'll notice from these pictures that they still wear high socks and blouse their pants. Why not wear stirrups? I wish I knew that answer. But softball pants are not the same as baseball pants. Baseball pants go all the way to the shoes, so that players must blouse their pants so that the high socks or stirrups show. Softball pants are shorter, just under the knee, and have elastic bands at the bottom (some baseball pants have elastic bands also). Even though stirrups are gone, high cuffed socks are still there.

Alright, back to the uniforms. One thing you'll notice that is missing from what the girls wear is some orange. There's not a lot of it on the diamond. Well, they used to have an orange jersey that looked extremely similar to the ones the baseball players used to wear. Apparently the girls didn't like how they made them look on the diamond, so they dumped then, and haven't worn them since 2010-2011 season. Other than football, I don't think there is an Auburn recognized team (not club sports like hockey or lacrosse) that does not wear orange. It's part of the rotation in basketball, baseball, and other sports. It's odd that a team from a program that has been working to brand the Orange and Blue and "Auburn" over "Tigers" has done exactly what the Athletic Department has been trying to accomplish over the past few years. The baseball team received a new orange jersey last year (which they wanted to read "Tigers" but were turned down), and got a new grey uniform set this year. So why can't a little bit more money be spent on the softball program to get them some new jerseys, and to bring them up to date with the current protocol going throughout the rest of the department? 

One thing that I've noticed looking up pictures for this piece is the batting helmets. Two years ago, the softball team wore glossy batting helmets, with some really cool Eye of the Tiger pride stickers on the back (which I had never seen off the football field). Last year the wore two different matte styled helmets, both consisting of gradient schemes. One helmet is blue on top, with orange on the bottom. The other is white on top, blue on the bill only. For this season, the team only has one helmet so far: a flat matte blue lid with a white AU decal on the front. I've liked all these, so it's hard to say one way or another about the change. As long as it looks good, I'm alright. Will be interesting to see if there is another helmet in the locker room waiting for the future.

Like baseball, the softball team will mix and match their uniforms. And also like baseball, some combinations look better than others. Personally, I'm not a fan at all of the blue on blue look for softball. I think the white on white looks so much better than the white on blue. Honestly, I'm not a fan of the blue pants...Maybe if they brought back the orange tops they would fit in better. The blue on white is a clean look. Blue on grey isn't a bad look. But I have to say the all white is my favorite look. All grey isn't too bad either; better than the all blue...That old orange jersey would make for some more interesting combos. Hey Jay Jacobs, let's make this happen!

To wrap this up, I want to give a kudos to the grounds crew. They spent all offseason and this brutal winter working on the softball field. They replaced the back fencing with a whole new design and everything. The park looks wonderful!

At the time I write this, this team has been playing wonderfully. They are currently on a 10 game winning streak, and could easily continue to stretch that. Twenty-nine of the first thirty-five games of the season are played at home, with Auburn hosting four different tournaments. With lots of games at home and some big name programs coming to town, there is no excuse not to spend a day at the park. Get out there a day or a few, and help these girls get to Oklahoma City!

War Eagle!

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