In Clint Myers' second year on the Plains, the Auburn Tigers are the SEC Tournament Champions. It wasn't easy on Saturday night, but the Tigers' bats came through when they needed them the most.
Auburn rolled through their first two games of the tournament against Missouri and Alabama. They faced #12 Tennessee tonight, who had previously knocked off Top 10 teams in LSU and #1 Florida to make it to the championship game.
The Tigers started off the game looking great, with Lexi Davis putting UT's batters down quickly and the Tigers taking advantage of Tennessee walks and errors to build a three run lead. Fortunes changed when UT changed pitchers, and Erin Gabriel went on a tear of striking out Auburn batters.
Tennessee picked up a run in the fourth to bring the score to 3-1, and then took the 4-3 lead in the 5th. Things looked dire for Auburn as Tennessee freshman Meghan Gregg (from the town my parents live in now, tiny little Williamson, GA) hit a solo shot to take the lead to 5-3 in the top of the 7th.
That's when momentum shifted. Emily Carosone reached base, and then Kasey Cooper almost tied it herself with a ball that edged the top of a Tennessee defender's glove and ricocheted off the center field wall for a double. Branndi Melero grounded out but scored a run, and then a routine fly ball was dropped by UT defender CJ McClain allowing Cooper to score.
That was it for the 7th inning, though. The Tigers and the Vols were each scoreless in the 8th, and while Tennessee got a runner to 2nd in the top of the 9th, they didn't manage to get the run across.
Auburn began the bottom of the 9th with the same batters that they began the bottom of the 7th. The result was similar as Carosone hit the ball up the middle for a single. Carosone - a candidate for USA Collegiate Softball National Player of the Year - went 4-5 with an RBI on the night. She advanced to second on a ground out, and then catcher Carlee Wallace managed to get a hard grounder just inside the bag fair for an outfield hit that brought Carosone home for the win.
What an amazing year for Auburn Softball. They have set or broken so many team and individual records. They've had by far the best season in program history. This was the Tigers' first trip to the final game of the SEC Tournament, and they came away victorious.
Congratulations to the Auburn Softball Tigers on their monumental win tonight! The season doesn't end with the SEC Championship, though. There is still work to be done.
Auburn will return home and will welcome all to join them tomorrow night at the Wellness Kitchen across the street from Plainsman Park at 9pm for the NCAA Selection Show Watch Party. The Tigers will host an NCAA Regional and should have the Super Regional locked up as well if they are able to advance to the next stage.
WAR DAMN SOFTBALL!!!!!