Softball Tigers Advance to SEC Semi-Finals

Auburn cooled hot-hitting Missouri on the way to a 5-2 victory in the SEC Softball Tournament.

Lexi Davis earned the win in relief for Auburn.

Baton Rouge, La.--The Auburn Tigers advanced to the semi-finals of the SEC Softball Tournament on Thursday with a 5-2 victory over seventh-ranked Missouri.

Coach Clint Myers' Auburn team, which is ranked sixth nationally, used a strong relief pitching performance from junior Lexi Davis, strong defense and timely hitting to improve its record to 47-9.

Missouri, which came into the tournament as one of the nation’s hottest teams, dropped to 39-14.

The Tigers will take on No. 3 seed Alabama, a 2-1 winner vs. Georgia. The Tigers-Tide game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. CDT at Tiger Park with TV coverage on ESPNU.

“The biggest focus for me is keeping the ball low,” said Davis, who improved her record 21-2 this season. “I have really been working hard to get my off-speed pitch going and that is what really helped me out today.”

Missouri took the early lead with a run in the top of the first inning when Rachael Walters got into trouble with two outs. A walk, a hit batter and another walk loaded the bases for Corrin Genovese, whose line drive single to left put Mizzou on top. Auburn got out of the inning when Tiffany Howard’s throw to catcher Carlee Wallace was on target for the third out.

Auburn tied the game in the third inning with a solo home run to center field by Haley Fagan, which was the first hit of the day for the Tigers. Fagan is the player whose home run gave Auburn a 1-0 victory vs. LSU in the same ball park last weekend.

In the top of the fourth inning Auburn pulled Walters with one out after her third walk allowed in the game. Davis immediately retired Missouri by throwing a double play ground ball to shortstop.

In the bottom of the fourth inning Emily Carosone was hit by a pitch. After Kasey Cooper’s line drive out to the second baseman, Carosone moved to second base on a walk to Branndi Melero.

A single by Carlee Wallace was bobbled by the right fielder allowing Carosone to score. Auburn then stretched the lead to 3-1 when Morgan Estell’s groundout scored Melero from third base.

The Tigers got their leadoff hitter aboard again in the fifth inning when Jade Rhodes walked and that led to two more runs. She moved to third base when Jenna Abbott smacked a single off the leg of the pitcher.

After Howard struck out Carosone lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to easily score Rhodes making the score 4-1. The Tigers scored again when Cooper’s infield hit was followed by a bad throw by second baseman Sami Fagan allowing pinch-runner Victoria Draper to score.

Kasey Cooper makes a play for the Tigers at third base as Auburn played error-free ball vs. Mizzou.

Missouri cut the lead to 5-2 in the top of the sixth with two singles and walk to load the bases with one out. A pitch into the dirt allowed a run to score, but a fly ball to left caught by Howard in foul territory was the second out and she gunned down the runner at the plate trying to score on the play to complete Auburn’s third double play of the game.

Davis then retired the side one-two-three in the seventh inning to wrap up the victory that probably assured Auburn a top eight national seed for the NCAA Tournament. Auburn entered the tournament after receiving a first round bye as the No. 2 seed with a No. 4 national ranking in RPI.

“I thought it was two very good teams playing today,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said. “I think the big thing for us today was the defense. How many times in a game do you see an outfielder throw out a runner at home, let alone two runners in the same game? Our little leadoff hitter (Tiffany Howard) was outstanding. Haley Fagan was lights out at shortstop and got the big hit for us to put us on the board."

Myers, who is in his second season at Auburn, added, “It’s starting to come together, but there’s a lot of season left. Good teams find ways to win. We have a very simple philosophy. Good pitching, good defense and timely hitting and that’s exactly what you saw today. That’s a recipe for success. We’ve been playing to that and we’ve had a different hero every night.”

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