Softball Tigers Miss On Sweep And SEC Title

LSU bounced back for a victory on Sunday in the regular season finale that kept Auburn from winning the SEC softball championship.

Senior team captain Morgan Estell and the Tigers will next play the conference tournament in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge, La.--With a chance to win the SEC regular season softball title on Sunday, the Auburn Tigers couldn’t complete a three-game sweep of LSU as they fell 7-1 at Tiger Park.

Auburn finished the regular season in second place in the league at 18-6, a half game behind Florida (18-5), which lost at Missouri on Sunday.

After allowing LSU just two runs in taking the opening two games of the series, Auburn’s pitchers gave up 10 hits and seven walks on Sunday.

That was too much to overcome as Carley Hoover allowed Auburn only five hits while striking out 12 batters on the way to a complete game victory.

Auburn, which saw its six-game winning streak snapped, fell to 46-9 to close the regular season.

Coach Clint Myers will keep his team in Baton Rouge where they will receive a first round bye into the SEC Tournament, a single-elmination, 10-team event that begins on Wednesday.

Despite the loss on Sunday, Auburn's coach told Inside the Auburn Tigers he saw many good things from his team in Baton Rouge. "I thought we played pretty well overall," he said of his team that won 2-1 on Friday night and 1-0 on Saturday. "Great teams find ways to win and that is exactly what took place.

"LSU has a great pitching staff and the key thing is we figured out ways to win," the coach added.

Other than the pitching in the first two games the highlight of the weekend was the defense, something Myers said he really liked. His Tigers didn't make an error and turned double plays in different ways, including one on a double off the wall on Sunday with the bases loaded. On the play the Tigers tagged out a runner at third and another at the plate.

"That was just a great play all the way around," Myers said. "There was great communication and everything."

The Tigers are scheduled to play at 10 a.m. CDT on Thursday vs. the winner of an opening round contest matching No. 7 seed Missouri vs. No. 10 seed Mississippi State. Auburn won two of three at Missouri and did not play Mississippi State this season.

Auburn’s only run came in the second inning. Haley Fagan walked and advanced to second base on a single by Carlee Wallace. A two-out single to center by Tiffany Howard put the visitors on top 1-0.

LSU trumped that with two runs in the third inning when a bloop single and two bunt singles loaded the bases for Bianka Bell. She doubled off the right center field wall, but Auburn’s defense played the ball perfectly and tagged out runners at third base and then at home on the play.

A solo home run by Sandra Simmons off of pitcher Marcy Harper made the score 3-1.

Auburn’s relievers could not do any better than Harper. Rachael Walters allowed three runs in the fifth inning and Lexi Davis gave up a run in the sixth inning to LSU, which clinched a first round bye in the SEC Tournament by salvaging the final game of the series to improve its record to 15-9 in the SEC and 43-10 overall.

Freshman catcher Carlee Wallace led the Tigers at the plate with a pair of singles.

“Considering we finished second when we were picked to finish eighth, that’s pretty good,” Myers said of Auburn's finish in the SEC race. “If we get everything going with the hitting, defense and pitching, we’re going to be very tough to beat.

"We’re tough right now and we don’t have all the cylinders firing at the same time. Second shows some people that Auburn needs to be taken seriously. We are going to play good softball and we are going to compete.”

Commenting on his team taking two of three at LSU, the coach said, "I thought our pitching was pretty good, we just haven’t been swinging the bats. We’re going to put a little emphasis on that over the next three days and work on a couple things. We know it’s there. We’ve done it all year long.”

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