All is not well inside the Auburn softball program, if you ask one player.
Auburn second baseman Carlee McCondichie abruptly retired from the sport and appeared to blame the culture fostered by head coach Mickey Dean as the reason why. She slammed the program in a Twitter thread on Sunday while also saying she wasn't returning to the softball team for a fifth year — one she earned because of the 2020 COVID-19-shortened season.
"I will not be taking a 5th year," she wrote on Twitter, via AL.com, before deactivating her account. "This thread is not directed toward Auburn University. I love Auburn with my whole heart and every single girl that is part of the Auburn softball program. It is sad when a young girl who has played the sport for 18 years of her 22-year life has no interest or desire in playing a 5th year.
"That's what happens when you play for a program where when you fail, you are immediately benched. A program where you aren't pursued. A program where you are only looked at from an athletic perspective, not a personal perspective."
"For me, I can stand here confidently and say I gave my absolute all to the Auburn softball program," she continued.
"In return, I got benched as a starter on SENIOR DAY. This isn't for attention, this is for the athletes to come. THEY DESERVE BETTER. STUDENT-ATHLETES ARE MUCH MORE THAN STUDENTS & MUCH MORE THAN ATHLETES. They are human beings. With that being said, I will always continue to support Auburn Softball PLAYERS. But for me, my softball career is OVER and the thought of even playing one game brings me much anxiety, sadly."
McCondichie was one of the team's best hitters. She finished the 2023 season hitting .303, with two home runs and five doubles. As she said, she was benched during Auburn's Senior Day against Mississippi State on May 7. She didn't receive a single at-bat in the team's final five games after that, including during the NCAA Tournament.
Her statement may not have been directed at Auburn as a whole, but it most certainly seemed to be directed toward coach Dean. Dean has coached the Tigers since 2017. The team went 43-19 this past season and lost to Clemson in regional play.
This. This is exactly why I coach the way I do. I see it far too often. If a player is scared to make a mistake, they will play timid and tense. That either lends itself to physical injury, mental injury and creates an atmosphere of power and fear. https://t.co/GFu3vbKFvI
— Brewdog (@brewtown10) July 5, 2023
So, Carlee McCondichie just quit twitter? If ANYONE can relay that we love her and are very sorry that she was ripped for telling her story.
— your local barner (@barnerburner101) July 4, 2023
Auburn did, however, beat Alabama in a series for the first time since 2018. They did so thanks to a McCondichie home run off Crimson Tide ace Montana Fouts.
It's not clear what McCondichie specifically was benched for, but her season numbers seem to contradict Dean's decision to play sophomore Rose Roach (a .245 hitter) over the senior. That being said, McCondichie suffered a miserable slump toward the end of the season. She was 1-for-28 in her last 28 at-bats.
McCondichie's tweets don't exactly look great for an Auburn softball program that's already seen Denver Bryant, Lindsey Garcia, Bri Ellis and Jessie Blaine enter the transfer portal since the conclusion of the 2023 season. McCondichie originally announced plans to transfer but decided to retire instead.
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