Auburn, Ala.--A one-hitter by junior pitcher Marcy Harper and a line drive home run by shortstop Haley Fagan sent Auburn into Sunday’s final round of the NCAA Softball Auburn Regional on Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field.
After defeating No. 2 seed South Alabama 1-0 the Tigers will play a rematch with the Jaguars at noon CDT on Sunday. Auburn needs one victory to clinch the regional championship. South Alabama must defeat Auburn twice on Sunday to win the regional title.
The Jaguars defeated Tennessee Tech 9-3 on Saturday night in a loser’s bracket game to stay alive in the tournament. Earlier in the day Tennessee Tech eliminated UT-Chattanooga from the double elimination event with an 8-2 decision.
“It was a heck of a game,” said Auburn Coach Clint Myers said of his team's victory over South Alabama. “It was superbly pitched by Marcy. You have got to tip your hat to her. She was tremendous all game long. She made pitches when she had to. She kept them off stride.”
The win improved Auburn’s record to 51-9, the most victories in school history.
Adding more interest to the victory was the fact that Fagan is a transfer from South Alabama. “I have nothing but respect for those players and the program, but obviously I am a competitor and wanted to win just as bad as they did,” said Fagan, who added it was “unreal” to come up with the big hit vs. the Jaguars.
Haley Fagan celebrates after she homered vs. her former team on Saturday.
Harper has done her best pitching late in the season. In her last regular season game, a 1-0 Auburn win over LSU in Baton Rouge, she was sharp in a game that also featured a Fagan home run.
“I think I am getting hot at the right time for some reason and I am trying not to worry about it too much,” Harper said. “I just try to go out there and let my teammates work for me.”
Auburn won its opener in the regional 4-1 vs. Tennessee Tech on Friday night, but managed just four hits.
Asked about his team’s dropoff at the plate in recent weeks, the coach said his staff was up to well after midnight on Friday trying to “figure things out” with that aspect of his team’s play.
“This is the same club,” he said. “The only thing that is really different is this is the first time Auburn’s ever won 51 games. It is the first time they were ever ranked fourth in the country so there is a lot of new things they have never really had to drawn on. There could be an experience problem.
Auburn players celebrate their victory over the Jaguars.
“They need to understand what we do here is no different than the SEC Tournament,” the coach added. “I say it every time we get together, our best softball is still ahead of us.
“We have done different things in warmups,” Myers said. “We have done different things in our BP (batting practice). They are a better hitting club than they showed. One of these days it is going to break loose and when it does it is going to be beautiful to watch...and I hope it is tomorrow.”
South Alabama, the Sun Belt Conference Tournament champion, had its biggest threat in the first inning with a walk and infield single putting runners on first and third base, but Harper pitched out the trouble.
The next six innings the junior from Hoover did not allow a hit as she improved her record to 12-4.
South Alabama starting pitcher Devin Brown, who dropped to 11-5, was sharp, too. She allowed just two hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Haley Fagan is a sophomore shortstop for the Tigers.
The big hit off of Brown was a line drive homer over the left field fence in the fifth inning for Fagan’s 13th of the year. Auburn’s only other hit was a single by Emily Carosone.
Friday Games:South Alabama 11, UT-Chattnooga 1 (5)
Auburn 4, Tennessee Tech 1
Saturday Games:Auburn 1, South Alabama 0
Tennessee Tech 8, UT-Chattanooga 2
South Alabama 9, Tennessee Tech 3
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