Tigers Cruise Past Tide Into SEC Title Game

Marcy Harper mowed down Alabama's hitters as Auburn advanced to the championship game of the SEC Softball Tournament where they will face Tennessee.

Baton Rouge, La.--Marcy Harper pitched a complete game four-hitter and got more than enough run support from her teammates as Auburn coasted to a 7-1 victory over Alabama to advance to the championship game of the SEC Softball Tournament.

Harper, a junior right-hander from Hoover, improved her record to 11-4 as she did not walk a batter in her seven innings of action on Friday.

With the win Auburn advances to the league title game for the first time in school history. “It is a great feeling,” said Harper, who noted the run support was a key to the victory. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. My team did a great job of stringing a bunch of hits together and base running, and I did what I needed to do on the mound to get us to where we needed to be.”

Auburn improved its record to 48-9 heading into Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship game at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge where it will play No. 5 seed Tennessee, which upset No. 1 seed Florida 2-1 in the other semi-final game.

Auburn's Clint Myers, the SEC Coach of the Year, had high praise for Harper’s performance. “Marcy was lights out today,” he said. “She hit her spots, she took command of the zone and she made the hitters hit her pitch.

“With the wind blowing in she just threw the ball up there and they were chasing,” Myers noted. “They had a ton of pop-ups and our defense turned a key double play again. It was a well-played game defensively and in the circle.”

In contrast to Harper, Alabama’s pitchers walked five Tigers and put Auburn players on base three other times with hit-by-pitches.

Shortstop Haley Fagan takes a throw from second baseman Emily Carosone as the Tigers turn a double play vs. the Tide.

Auburn’s two-three-four batters in the lineup, Emily Carosone, Kasey Cooper and Branndi Melero, each contributed two hits. Carosone scored three runs and Melero drove home two runs.

The Tigers took advantage of two hit-by-pitches in the first inning. Carosone and Melero reached base and the Tigers loaded the bases on a single by freshman catcher Carlee Wallace.

Morgan Estell and Hagan Fagan then drew walks to bring home runs before Jade Rhodes struck out to end the inning.

Auburn added two more runs in the second. Jenna Abbott drew a walk to open the inning. Carosone then reached base on an infield single.

With two outs Melero smashed a line drive that rolled to the wall in right center field to bring home two runners.

Alabama cut the lead to 4-1 with its only run in the third inning on a two-out single by Haylie McCleney.

However, the Tigers matched that with a run in the bottom of the inning. Estell led off with a walk and scored on a line drive double scorched to left center field by Fagan.

Auburn stretched the lead to 6-1 in the fifth inning when Estell, who reached base on a single, scored with two outs on a single by Abott.

Emily Carosone covers first base as the Tigers throw out a Tide runner on a bunt.

In the sixth inning Carosone, Cooper and Melero singled to load the bases with nobody out. Wallace drove home a run on a sacrifice fly, but Alabama got out of the jam to keep from losing in a run-rule decision.

However, it didn’t matter as Harper was sharp in the seventh inning, making quick work of the Tide hitters as she completed the game throwing just 78 pitches.

Alabama fell to 42-12 with the loss.

On Sunday night Auburn and other teams around the country will find out the brackets for the 64-team NCAA Tournament. The Tigers are expected to be a host for one of the 16 four-team regionals.

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