With freshman Maria Martinez leading the Tigers with a school record round of six-under-par 66 on Saturday, Auburn moved up one spot to fourth place in the 21-team event. With the top eight teams moving on to nationals from each of three regionals, Auburn will be back to try to win the title it finished second for in 2002.
"This is one of the best rounds that I've ever seen," Coach Kim Evans said. "It was a total team effort. I knew from the time that they stepped out of the van this morning that they were on a mission. It was very exciting." Auburn's 278 total was two strokes better than the old mark, a 280, shot at the 2002 SEC Tournament.
The nation's number one team, Duke, won the NCAA East Regional with a one-under-par team total of 857. Two teams that fifth-ranked Auburn beat for the SEC Championship, seventh-ranked Vanderbilt and 14th-ranked Georgia, were eight shots off Duke's pace and two strokes ahead of Auburn. Auburn finished eight shots ahead of North Carolina (882), which was followed by NCAA qualifiers South Carolina (884) and FSU (889).
Auburn will be making its eighth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships, which are scheduled for May 20-23 at Purdue University's Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, Ind.
On Saturday, Martinez came through with six birdies and just one bogey after shooting a pair of 77s on the opening two days. "I played really well today and my putter was working," the freshman said. "I had a lot of fun out there, and I was happy to be able to contribute to the team. I am excited about going to my first NCAA Championship." Martinez tied for 22nd at the regional. Her 66 total was one shot better than the school record held by three others--Celeste Troche (2002), Courtney Swaim (2002) and Marci Clemons (1996).
Furman's Brandi Jackson won the individual title with an eight-under-par total of 205, four shots better than South Carolina's Kristy McPherson.
Auburn Senior Celeste Troche earned All-NCAA East Regional honors as she tied for eighth with a one-over-par 214 total with rounds of 70, 71 and 73.
Diana Ramage came through for the Tigers.
Junior Diana Ramage contributed to Auburn's big finish with a career-best 68 to move up 21 spots on the final round to take 16th place at 218.
Senior Anne Hutto, who was a late substitute for injured senior All-American Danielle Downey, came through with her best score of the season on Saturday, an even par 71, to finish at 220 in a tie for 22nd.
The Tigers didn't count the 75 shot by sophomore Kingsley Barrett, who tied for 36th at 224.