Lowe, Bryant make major progress, a veteran returns, a big-time transfer arrives

Denver Bryant is ahead of schedule in recovery from knee injury. (Photo: Auburn University)

It’s been a busy summer for Auburn softball and head coach Mickey Dean, and most of the news so far has been good. Left-handed pitcher Shelby Lowe, who struggled through last season with forearm issues, has undergone a procedure. She is progressing well and should be ready for a comeback season in 2023. –Infielder Denver Bryant, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third SEC series at Kentucky and underwent surgery, is ahead of schedule and should also be ready for next season.

More news from on the softball front:

–Senior catcher Aspyn Godwin has decided to return for another season.

– Annabelle Widra, a two-way player who can pitch, and play middle infield, has transferred from Michigan to Auburn. Widra played at Spain Park High School and was recruited by Auburn.

–Maddie Majors, Paige Geraghty, Kelsey Schmidt and Reena Falisi have left the program. Majors plans to move on from softball. The other three plan to transfer.

Dean welcomed Godwin’s decision to return and join what is likely to be stiff competition at catcher.

“She’s been a really good teammate,” Dean said. “We are going to have five or six pitchers and we need those people for daily practice. She’s likeable. She brings energy. She is light-hearted. She is not demanding. She is someone players can open up to. She really understands what we are trying to do as a staff. ”

Jessie Blaine, who fought through nagging injuries for much of last season, will be in the mix at catcher. Aubrie Lindsey shared time with Godwin last season as a true freshman. Incoming freshman Skylar Elkins, from Locust Grove, Ga., Is a highly regarded catcher.

The biggest recruiting catch might be Widra, who was named to the 2022 Big Ten All-Tournament Team after pitching five scoreless, hitless innings in relief against Maryland and No. 10 Northwestern, earning the win over the Wildcats.

During her freshman season, Widra appeared in 48 games, seeing time at second and third base and as a designated player. She had six multi-hits and two multi-RBI games. Of her 27 hits, three were doubles, one was a triple and one was a home run.

In the circle, she made 17 appearances, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.73 ERA and 116 strikeouts through 32.1 innings of work.
Widra was the 2021 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year and Alabama Sports Writers Association’s 2021 Ms. Softball. She was named to the ASWA All-State Team four times and won the organization’s Pitcher of the Year in 2018 and 2021 and Player of the Year in 2021.

She finished her high school career with a .476 career batting average with 220 runs scored, 165 RBI, 41 doubles, 15 triples, 31 home runs and 132 stolen bases. She had a 120-24 career pitching record with a 1.39 ERA and 1,211 strikeouts, 60 shutouts and eight perfect games.

Like last season, weight training will be a big part of the preseason for Auburn players.

“We’re going to get more position specific,” Dean said. “Last year we tried to get them to understand the importance of the weight room. That gives us the opportunity to take it further. We will start in the weight room as soon as school starts, the first day. ”

Dean expresses optimism about his fifth full season as Auburn’s softball coach.

“I don’t want to put the carriage before the horse, but I really feel good about this team,” Dean said. “I really feel good about our talent level. If we can stay healthy, I think great things are ahead of us. ”

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