Sunday, February 11, 2018

Softball Debuts New Uniforms

New uniforms are big news nowadays, especially with a growing community that cares what players are wearing on the field. In a world of ever-changing, always-new uniforms, Auburn is still much more conservative than other programs. Even though the football uniforms will probably never drastically change, other Auburn Athletic uniforms will. Recently, Auburn baseball revealed new threads. Today, it's the softball team's turn.  

auburn softball 2018 mickey dean uniforms
(image via Julie Bennet, al.com)

The Auburn Softball season began this week, and the Tigers are sporting a new arsenal of uniforms. Leaks began to surface only a few weeks ago, and no official images were released showcasing the new threads. Outside of a few Instagram photos, the season opener was the first time the uniforms were shown off.  

Three of the four new jerseys, and two of the three new pants were revealed over the course of the opening weekend, in which Auburn played six games. Another set of doubleheaders scheduled for Sunday was canceled due to weather. The Tigers will have white, blue, orange, and grey jerseys to mix and match with white, blue, and grey pants. That alone creates an opportunity for twelve different combinations. But knowing how this program has changed belt colors and socks, that number can increase dramatically. Throw in the annual pink game for good measure.

auburn softball 2018 mickey dean uniforms victoria draper
Senior Victoria Draper is the only player to wear
the SEC Graduate patch early this season.
(image via Dakota Sumpter, Auburn Athletics)
The jerseys are more similar across the board than they have been in the program's history. Each set features simple double striping around the sleeves and down the pants leg. All the jerseys carry the arching Copperplate "Auburn" wordmark. Previously, one jersey had "Tigers" on the chest, and that is long gone. The Auburn Softball program was the only athletics program at Auburn to highlight the school nickname for many years. 2002 was actually the last time the softball team did not wear a jersey with Tigers on the chest. Only last year did the men's basketball team join that list in recent years. Baseball also sported the Tigers name on their jerseys in the early 2000s, the latest being in 2006, right before the transition from Russell to Under Armour. 

The grey uniforms also return to a more traditional, lighter shade of grey after the previous set was a much darker, charcoal shade. It looks nearly white when in the right lighting. The original change coincided with the reveal of a very dark grey uniform for the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is now rumored to have influenced multiple MLB teams to adopt the darker road uniforms. All the differences between the current uniforms and the last set can be found here.

The striping chosen for this new set works really well. It's a really nice, classic look for a program that, besides maybe one or two sets, hasn't had that traditional look. The design looks incredibly clean on the field, even if it isn't very visible at times. The stripes are rather thin, which makes it tough to make out from a distance. Overall, I am a fan of these uniforms. I just wish the Tigers wordmark had been retained in some fashion.

auburn softball 2018 mickey dean uniforms tannon snow
Tannon Snow shows off the new grey uniforms
(image via Julie Bennett, al.com)
It is interesting to see a new set of uniforms relatively soon after the previous set was first worn. The now-old set was first worn full time in 2016, but the design was first used the year prior. The orange jerseys were a surprise reveal in the second game of the season, and was a drastic change from the rest of the uniforms worn during the season. They were worn for nineteen games during the 2015 season. That design was soon implemented across the entire uniform set, with a new blue, orange, and grey set being ordered.  

The first two years that this design was used, the team made two trips to the Women's College World Series (although the orange jerseys were never worn in Oklahoma). Those two trips to Oklahoma City were made across the life of two entirely different sets of uniforms. Looking back, it nearly matches the changes made for football after the 2010 season - make some changes after seeing success. Uniforms are ordered so far in advance, and designs created even earlier, that it is nothing more than coincidence, especially at Auburn.  

One thing to keep an eye on the rest of this season is which batting helmet is worn. Last year, Auburn began the season with a new matte blue and orange helmet. Some time around mid-season, the team changed the facemask from orange to blue. Due to the matte finish, the coloring of the helmet never seemed to completely match the jerseys, especially the orange on the helmet shell. 

Come the SEC Tournament, Auburn made another surprise and revealed a shinny white helmet with blue details. The new shells really popped and looked like they were here to stay. Once the fall games began and, in-turn, the 2018 season, the white helmets were nowhere to be found. It wasn't until an Instagram post that the white helmets were seen again. I think it's very possible that Auburn switches between the two helmets throughout the season. If so, that just further expands the number of possible uniform combinations.
auburn softball 2018 mickey dean uniforms kk crocker
The orange-over-blue combinations lives on with the  new softball uniforms. 
(image via Dakota Sumpter, Auburn Athletics)

Under Armour is set to become the official uniform manufacturer for the MLB in 2019. There is much speculation as to what the Baltimore-based company will change when they take over. In the last month, Auburn baseball and softball have each revealed new uniforms. There weren't many, if any, changes in the uniforms themselves, which seems a little odd. I personally thought that Under Armour would use the years prior to their contract taking over to experiment with their uniforms on the collegiate level. Most of the details of the jerseys and pants are the same as the last sets. Except for one small detail.

For years, the manufacturer logo on the MLB uniforms was placed on the left sleeve of the jerseys, and above the back left pocket on the pants. Collegiate uniforms have the logos placed, mostly, on the chest, similar to football. Under Armour has typically placed their logos above the pants pocket and on the chest. When Softball broke out their previous uniform set, the logo on the pants was moved to the belt loop on the back of the pants. But with the new uniforms for baseball and softball, that logo has moved once again, now appearing on the front of the pants, on the left hip side. Which is, again, similar to football. Under Armour is expected to have massively outbid Nike and Majestic for the MLB contract, with a premium being paid to move the manufacturer logo to the front chest of the jerseys. Could the new hip placement of the logo be a little bit of a precursor to the MLB's uniforms? It's quite possible.
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**Update** Well, it turns out there was another uniform that was a well kept secret (for me at least).

auburn softball 2018 mickey dean uniforms pinstripe pinstripes
Pinstripes everywhere!
(image via @AuburnEquip)
On the midweek game of the season, Auburn traveled south to face the Troy Trojans. For the game, the Tigers broke out a fifth new uniform - an all pinstripe set. This marks the first time Auburn has worn a pinstripe uniform and is one of the few true pinstripe uniforms in NCAA softball (as in, they don't have any extra features on top of the stripes).

Some background information is warranted here. In 2015, a photo leaked of an Auburn Softball player wearing a pinstripe uniform in the team clubhouse. The uniform was incredibly similar to what the baseball team wears. Just recently, actually, I learned that Softball actually borrowed that uniform from the baseball team. I personally thought nothing was to come out of this development. Pinstripes weren't worn for the seasons following the image being snapped. I believed it to be an opportunity to test out the look and determine if the team wanted to move forward with it.

Then comes Valentine's Day 2018. The Auburn Equipment Twitter accounts posts a photo showcasing the brand new uniforms (and with the white helmets, as speculated above). The new set is designed to match the rest of the new uniforms, so it's a little different than the baseball style originally tested out. Softball's pinstripes showcase more color, which works really nice. Baseball wears zero orange when wearing their "Yankee pinstripes."
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Auburn Softball was picked to finish sixth out of fourteen teams in the SEC. Many eyes will be on this team to see how the new roster and coaching staff will perform. They can also keep their eyes on the nice new uniforms the team will be wearing.

You can view the history of Auburn Softball uniforms here.

Enjoy uniforms and want to see more like this? Be sure to follow the Auburn Uniform Database, like the AUD Facebook pageInstagram page, and follow me on Twitter for even more uniform news. Also, you can support this site by purchasing AUD t-shirts and other merchandiseYou can also purchase your favorite team's merchandise through Fanatics, with a portion of your sale going to support this website.

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