Auburn, Ala.--Kasey Cooper’s three hits, including a three-run homer, sparked Auburn to a 6-3 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday and a spot in the College Softball World Series.
Cooper’s home run, a towering opposite field drive over the left field fence and her 18th of the season, put the Tigers up 6-2 in the top of the sixth inning and Lexi Davis kept the Ragin’ Cajuns at bay with a complete game pitching performance.
“When we started this thing two years ago we said we were going to the College World Series,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said. “At that time it was just a fat, gray-haired guy standing around saying we are going to the College World Series, but (the players) believed it.
“What we try to give to them it is not a goal, it is an expectation,” said Myers, who won two College World Series champioships as head coach at his alma mater, Arizona State.
Myers said the players on the 2015 team are the “starting point” of what he expects will be major success for Auburn softball, a program that had never won an NCAA regional tournament or even played in a super regional prior to this season. “We are excited and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” the coach said.
Second baseman Emily Carosone turns a double play for the Tigers.
The Tigers led the nation in fielding percentage last year and are ranked in the Top 10 again this year. Myers said the Tigers played “great defense” vs. the Ragin’ Cajuns and combined that with a strong pitching performance and timely hitting.
The most timely hit came from sophomore third baseman Cooper, who said she wasn’t sure her home run was going to make it over the fence when she connected on what she said was a “rise ball” by pitcher Alex Stewart, who fell to 10-2 with the loss. However, her ball cleared the fence with plenty of room to spare.
Kasey Cooper, a first-team All-SEC player, heads to the plate following her home run.
Davis wasn’t as sharp as she has been at times this season, allowing nine hits and walking eight, but she made clutch pitches and got plenty of fielding support from her teammates who turned four double plays. The junior right-hander improved her record to 24-2.
Cooper was 3-3 at the plate while reaching a fourth time on a walk for the Tigers, who improved their record to 54-9. ULL finished its season with a 42-12 record.
Cooper also had a strong performance in the field at third base. “Our defense was on,” she said. “We told Lexi, you throw the ball and we are going to get you out of this.”
Playing as the visitors after winning game one on Friday 12-11 as the home team in a walk-off thriller, the Tigers scored a single run in the first inning. Kasey Cooper smacked a two-out double to right center field and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Cooper scored on an infield single by Branndi Melero.
ULL scored a single run in the bottom of the first and took the lead with one more in the second inning as the hard-hitting Ragin’ Cajuns left the bases loaded in both innings.
Auburn tied the game with small ball in the fourth inning. A bunt single by Haley Fagan, a single by Morgan Estell and bunt single by Jade Rhodes loaded the bases. The Ragin’ Cajuns got out of the inning allowing just one run that scored on a groundout by Jenna Abbott.
In the sixth inning the Tigers took command. Estell led off with a bunt single and moved to third base on two illegal pitches. She then scored on a wild pitch to put the Tigers up 3-2.
After Abbott and Emily Carosone walked, Cooper parked a pitch over the left field fence to make the score 6-2.
Lexi Davis talks with Clint Myers.
The Ragin’ Cajuns managed to score a run in the bottom of the sixth before Davis closed out the contest in the seventh inning.
Morgan Estell, the senior center fielder and team captain, said, “It’s a great feeling (qualifying for the World Series), but it is something we expected. Like Coach says every day, it is an expectation for us, and we are not done yet and I am ready to go kick some butt there.”
Softball Tigers Eager to Improve for Super Regional
No. 1 Ranked Football Recruit to Visit Auburn
Dye-Gest Column, Try It, You'll Like It
High Ranked OL to Visit AU
ITAT Radio, Tuesday Podcast
Auburn Makes History With Regional Win
Auburn Softball Regional Photo Gallery