Auburn took a break from SEC play this weekend to take part in a tournament in Tampa/Clearwater, FL. While the Tigers didn't dominate the scoreboard quite as much as we may have expected they would have against some of the teams playing in this tournament, they still came away with the weekend sweep. And, along the way, two Tigers had historic moments during Saturday's games.
Game 1: Auburn 2, NDSU 1.
The Bison struck first in this one, though it took all the way until the 5th inning to do it. Auburn's bats just weren't working very much in the early going against pitching that they should have been able to handle. When you're down and needing a run, though, it always helps to have Kasey Cooper coming to the plate in the next inning. She launched a solo shot that tied the game in the 5th. In the bottom of the 7th with the bases juiced, Madi Gipson smacked a single that scored Bree Fornis to give the Tigers the 2-1 victory in a much tougher game than they expected.
While the bats weren't doing much, Kaylee Carlson was certainly doing her job. The Bison's lone run was a home run that was one of only 3 hits on the day. Carlson went the distance striking out 7 batters and only walking 3. She remains perfect on the season.
Game 2: Auburn 4, South Florida 0.
I thought the hometown Bulls would give the Tigers one of the tougher games of the weekend. That turned out not to be the case. Makayla Martin picked up right where Carlson left off. She allowed only 2 hits and struck out 4 batters on the way to a 4-0 Auburn victory. She did allow 5 walks, but when you have a team who leads the nation in double plays, then you know you've got a good chance of recovering from that.
Auburn's first run was scored in the 2nd when Carlee Wallace walked with the bases loaded. That let Madi Gipson score. They added another in the 3rd on an Alyssa Rivera double that scored Kendall Veach from 1st. The final runs of the game were picked up in the 4th thanks to Carlee Wallace's 2-run shot.
Game 3: Auburn 6, Illinois 2.
Saturday was quite the day for Auburn Softball and Auburn sports in general. In the Illinois game, Kasey Cooper got things going from the plate with a RBI double. That was her 250th career hit and made her one of only two SEC softball players to have 250 hits and 250 RBIs in their career. It was the 4th inning that blew things open, though, as Cooper launched a 3-run shot to get the score up to 4-0.
Illinois picked up a run in each of the 5th and 6th innings, but Makayla Martin and Jenna Abbott combined to shut the Illini down overall and get the Tigers yet another victory.
Game 4: Auburn 8, Ohio State 0.
Kaylee Carlson entered the Auburn record books as only the second Auburn pitcher in school history - the first since Holly Currie in 2005 - to throw a perfect game. She did it in six innings as the Tigers run-ruled the Buckeyes 8-0 in six.
Carlson didn't really need the help at the plate in this one, but she certainly got it. A 5-run 3rd inning accounted for most o the Auburn scoring. They added 3 more in the 6th that put it into run-rule territory. Kaylee set 'em up and shut 'em down to come away with the perfect game.
Game 5: Auburn 9, LIU-Brooklyn 4.
The softball tournament wrapped up in the early morning hours of Sunday for the Tigers as they're final game began at 8:00 am Central. Auburn got on the board first in the 2nd inning, but LIU-Brooklyn took a big lead in the Top 3rd when they hammered a 3-run home run off Makayla Martin. The Tigers responded in the bottom half, though, picking up 7 runs of their own to retake the lead 8-1. Four of those runs came on 2-run home runs by Haley Fagan and Kendall Veach. A Carlee Wallace triple brought home the next three runs as two scored on the hit and Wallace was able to score on a throwing error.
The Blackbirds got one back to make it 8-4, but Auburn added a Haley Fagan sac-fly in the 6th for the final margin of 9-4.
Auburn put a number of pitchers out for this one, with Martin getting the start and four total innings, Ashley Swindle getting an inning, Jenna Abbott getting two.
Auburn stays in Florida next weekend to take on the Gators in Gainesville. That's going to be a huge series to show just where this Auburn team is. They swept this weekend's tournament, yet, but they didn't do it in quite as dominating fashion as they may have been expected to if the bats were as strong as the last two seasons. Fortunately, you don't have to be all that strong at the plate when you have pitchers like Martin and Carlson.
The Gators are ranked 2nd in the nation and only have 1 loss on their record. That loss is a very bad one to Maryland at home, but it's still only one loss. They started the SEC schedule with a 2 game sweep of Missouri (Game 3 was canceled) and swept South Carolina in Columbia this weekend.
The Tigers have the week off - no midweek games - between now and the first game against the Gators next Friday. After this weekend's schedule, I'm sure they can use the rest. The SEC fun gets going again 6:00 pm (5:00 pm Central) this Friday night.