By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
Morgan Estell has only played a season and a half of softball for Auburn, but she has already made an impression on opposing coaches across the Southeastern Conference.
The former Mortimer Jordan star was named to the pre-season All-SEC Team, the conference announced on Tuesday.
Estell, who played for two Class 5A state champion Blue Devil teams and two runners-up, was leading the Tigers in several offensive categories when she suffered a season-ending injury 15 games into the 2012 schedule. She was granted a medical redshirt, so she will play again this season as a sophomore and has three years of eligibility remaining.
Before the injury, Estell had a .432 batting average with four doubles, 11 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Estell had a stellar freshman year in 2011, and was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team. In that season, she hit .376 with 18 doubles, six home runs and 30 RBI. Estell also hit a team-best .389 with nine doubles, four home runs and 18 RBI in conference play.
Estell was the only Tiger, and also the only Alabama native to be named to the pre-season team. She was also the only sophomore.
The rest of the team was heavy on players from defending national champion Alabama, perennial power Tennessee and new SEC member Texas A&M.
Pitcher Jackie Traina, infielder Kaila Hunt and outfielder Kayla Braud return from the Tide’s NCAA title team. Infielders Raven Chavanne, Lauren Gibson and Madison Shipman, along with outfielder Kat Dotson, were the Vols named to the team. Catcher Meagan May and designated player Mel Dumezich of the Aggies were also listed.
The rest of the pre-season team includes pitcher Rachele Fico of LSU and outfielder RT Cantillo of Ole Miss.
Auburn opens their season with their Plainsman Invitational tournament Feb. 8-10. The Tigers will host Army, Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Kent State and Furman.