Tigers To Play for Regional Title On Sunday

The Auburn softball team won two games on Saturday to advance to the championship round of the NCAA Regional in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, Minn.--Auburn had to win two games to advance to the championship round on Sunday at the Minnesota NCAA Women's Softball Regional and managed to do it with a pair of very different victories.

In the first elimination game the Tigers took a 9-1 mercy-rule victory vs. Green Bay before winning a 1-0 pitchers' duel in the nightcap of the doubleheader vs. North Dakota State.

Host Minnesota, which won the winners bracket game on Saturday with an extra innings victory over North Dakota State, will take on Auburn at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. If the Gophers win they will advance to the Super Regional round. If Auburn wins it will set up a 4 p.m. matchup between the Tigers and Gophers with the winner moving on to the next round.

Sophomore pitcher Lexi Davis was the star of game two for the Tigers on Saturday night. She allowed just four hits to the Bison and pitched out of several jams as did North Dakota State pitcher Karla Menke.

Auburn finally pushed a run across the plate in the top of the seventh inning as the Tigers got a leadoff double to left center field by Tiffany Howard, the number nine player in the Auburn batting order. Howard moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Emily Carosone.

Freshman third baseman Kasey Cooper then came through with an RBI single, setting the stage for Davis to complete the shutout in the bottom half of the inning, which she did by striking out the final Bison batter.

North Dakota State defeated Auburn 5-2 on Friday in the opening round of the regional when the Tigers couldn't come up with clutch hits. The rematch started that way, too.

Auburn had a chance to take the lead in the second inning, loading the bases with a walk, a single and a hit by pitch, but Howard ended the threat on a groundout to shortstop.

In the fifth inning the Bison had a major threat with a leadoff single followed by a bad throw from Davis after the pitcher fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt.

On the next play, a bunt towards third base, Cooper made a diving catch and doubled the runner off first base for the second out. Davis then got one of her five strikeouts to end the threat and NDSU's season with the Bison finishing with a 38-18 record.

"I thought Lexi pitched extremely well," Auburn coach Clint Myers said. "She made the pitches when she had to. She was tough all night long."

The first elimination game on Saturday got a late start when it took Minnesota 10 innings to defeat North Dakota State 4-1 in the winners bracket game. The delay didn't bother the Tigers, who jumped to a quick lead and were never seriously threatened by Green Bay.

Carosone opened the game with a triple and scored from there on a ground ball. In the second inning Carosone drove in the first of five runs in that inning for the Tigers on a groundout with the bases loaded for out two.

Cooper, a Freshman All-SEC third baseman, then doubled two more runs home and All-SEC junior outfielder Branndi Melero followed with another double to make the score 5-0. Morgan Estell's single drove home Melero to make the score 6-0.

Morgan Estell heads home for the Tigers.

The Phoenix scored their only run in the bottom of the second inning following a leadoff triple off of Davis, who pitched the first two innings before being relieved by Hilary Mavromat for two innings and Jenna Abbott for the final inning in the contest stopped after five innings due to the mercy rule.

The Tigers built their lead to 9-1 with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Cooper homered, her 18th of the year, to set a new school single-season mark.

Auburn's other two runs came as Melero singled and scored on a double by Estell, who raced home on a double by Jade Rhodes.

With the doubleheader win on Saturday the Tigers improved their record to 41-18-1. Minnesota will bring a 43-9 record into their matchup vs. Auburn.

Auburn vs. North Dakota State Box Score

Auburn vs. Green Bay Box Score

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