Strong defensive performances and one big inning were the order of the day as Auburn Softball knocked off LSU to repeat as the SEC Tournament Champions. The Tigers dedicated the post-season to injured shortstop Kelsey Bogaards, to Play For Turtle, and they began it the right with today's SEC Title!
LSU was getting the bat on the ball in the 1st inning, but strong defensive plays by Whitney Jordan at SS and Tiffany Howard in RF kept LSU from doing any damage. Both plays were highlight reel worthy as Jordan dove to stop a sure hit and then was able to reach over and tap the bag to get the lead runner at 2nd. Following a hit into right field, Tiffany Howard made a heads up play to throw to second where LSU's baserunner overshot the bag and Auburn was able to make the tag before she got back to the bag.
Auburn's batters were mostly stymied by LSU's pitchers, but a big 2nd inning made the difference. Auburn scored four runs in the frame and all with two outs. The first run was on a bases loaded walk. The next three were on a bases clearing double by Emily Carosone. Where LSU had some bad base running in the early going, it was a heads up play by Tiffany Howard to keep going on the bad throw into home to score the third run and get the 4th run across.
LSU got a run back in the 3rd thanks to a few wild pitches by Makayla Martin - something she struggled with at times in the game - but for the most part the freshman was able to shut down LSU's bats thanks to her pitching and good defense behind her. Martin threw five innings before being replaced by Rachel Walters to close out the game.
Jade Rhodes drove an RBI across the plate in the 5th for an extra bit of insurance, and then Tiffany Howard came through in a big way in the bottom of the 6th. She hit her first career home run - a 2-run shot - to put Auburn up 7-1.
LSU had one final chance, and they got balls into the outfield as they'd done all game, but the Tigers' defense was there to close it out for the 7-1 victory.
It is truly remarkable what head coach Clint Myers has been able to do with this team. Auburn had never won an SEC title before he arrived, and now, in year three, they've won back-to-back titles. They will make the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year and will definitely host a Regional and likely a Super Regional should the Tigers make it out of the first round for the second straight year.
War Eagle, Ladies! You have been so much fun to watch, and I can't wait to see where this year continues to go!