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Five Takeaways From AUX Debut

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(Photo by Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

The debut of AUX Softball is officially in the books, as Series One and Two have concluded, and the final captains’ spots have been determined.

AUX operates under Athletes Unlimited and serves as an extension to the Championship Season, giving players another opportunity to compete professionally, while also bringing professional softball to television screens around the country.

Team Fischer Dominates Series Two

Series One brought a mixed bag of results, as no team went undefeated. As rosters are changing every week, it can be difficult to build the perfect team that is going to dominate an entire weekend series. Sam Fischer changed that by bringing together a group that had solid weapons in the lineup along with a terrific pitching staff that featured veterans Haylie Wagner and Danielle O’Toole.

Team Fischer set the tone in Saturday’s doubleheader, making history by becoming the first team to win two games in one day. First, the took down Team Mulipola, 8-4, before turning around a win in a pitchers' duel, 3-2, over Team Gibson. The weekend was capped off in dominant fashion when they shut out Team Gibson in the rematch contest, 3-0. Rookie Mariah Mazon, who joined AUX on Sunday, combined with fellow newcomer Sydney Littlejohn-Watkins for the three-hit shutout.

Rookies Showing Out

Several players made their professional debut over the first two AUX series. Danielle Gibson, fresh off an All-American career at Arkansas, went yard twice in Team Ocasio’s 5-3 victory over Team Eberle. Gibson finished second in the leaderboard after Series One and was able to draft her own squad. Shannon Rhodes, another rookie, played a huge role in Team Fischer’s sweep during Series Two, as she hit home runs in both games of the doubleheader on Saturday.

Rachel Garcia also made a splash in her AUX debut. After Team Gibson was able to rally and tie the contest at seven, Garcia delivered the walk-off victory for Team Mulipola. Rookie pitchers Georgina Corrick and Mariah Mazon have also shined in their first professional games, as both have collected MVP honors.

Fischer, O’Toole, Zerkle Pace Leaderboard

The captains for Series Three all played under Team Fischer and enjoyed incredible success, which propelled them to the captain’s seat for the final AUX series. Sam Fischer will repeat as captain, this time for the Gold Team, as she has earned 988 total points so far. Meanwhile, not too far behind, Danielle O’Toole sits in second place with 978 total points. O’Toole earned the chance to be a captain for the first time, as she will lead the Orange Team. Morgan Zerkle sits in third with 950 points, which allows her to captain the Blue Team.

Fischer rose to the top of the leaderboard, as she led her team to four victories, and in the process, collected five hits and four walks. O’Toole was phenomenal, as the veteran left-handed pitcher earned 638 points in Series Two alone, which was the most points scored by Team Fischer’s squad. In nine innings of work, the southpaw struck out nine batters and did not allow an earned run over the course of three appearances. Morgan Zerkle also had an incredible weekend, as she had four hits, including a three-run home run that propelled her to the final captain’s spot.

Pitching Staff Over Dominant Ace

The days of Cat Osterman dominating the bats of AU are long gone, as pitchers have struggled to keep offenses tamed. To put it in perspective no pitcher in AUX softball has thrown a complete game through 12 games, and the longest outing through the first two series has been 5.2 innings of work by Carrie Eberle.

Also, a starting pitcher has won only one game, while the remaining victories were picked up by relief pitchers, showing the importance of relying on a staff. Team captains have noticed the importance of having solid arms on their teams, as there has been a pitcher drafted either first or second, or they have been team captains themselves.

Capitalizing On Record-Breaking Numbers

The launch of AUX softball could not come at a better time. After the Women’s College World Series drew record-breaking crowds in the stadium, and millions more watching from home, it was fitting that the new league got underway just three days after the end of the collegiate season. Fans wanted more softball, and there is no better way to deliver it than by capitalizing on huge television numbers to showcase the sport all over the ESPN Networks.

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