Oklahoma City--Auburn’s loss in its first-ever appearance in the softball College World Series wasn’t due to nerves according to players on Coach Clint Myers’ team said.
LSU sent Auburn to the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination round of the eight-team tournament on Thursday with a 6-1 victory in front of 8,147 fans, the largest crowd to ever watch an AU softball team play.
“I don't think there were any jitters,” Auburn sophomore third baseman Kasey Cooper said. “It's just another ball game. Yes, it's the College World Series, but I don't think that any of us were nervous or played tight.
“You saw that was evident after we saw her (LSU pitcher Carly Hoover) one time around,” Cooper said. “We started hitting the ball more hard and had better quality at-bats. I don't think there were jitters at all. I thought it was just another ball game and another field we were trying to get used to.”
Senior center fielder and team captain Morgan Estell, who scored only Auburn’s run after hitting a double, agreed with Cooper.
“We had quality at-bats,” Estell said. “We hit hard balls right at people, and they had good hits with two outs, like Coach said, and we couldn't string enough hits together.”
One of Auburn’s best performers in the historic first AU game in Oklahoma City was relief pitcher Rachael Walters, who was sharp with her control and was effective in four-plus innings of work.
“I don't think there were any jitters,” the left-handed pitcher said. “It kind of helped that we played an SEC team that we've already played before, I think, and we just came out ready...well, ready to play. The odds didn't really go in our favor today, but I don't really think we were nervous and we're ready to get back at it I guess on Saturday.”
Auburn is off on Friday and will play Tennessee at 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday in a rematch of the SEC Championship Game that Auburn won in extra innings at Baton Rouge. Auburn has already played Tennessee four times this season and has won three of the matchups.
Senior right fielder Branndi Melero said that Tigers will be ready to play well on Saturday even though a loss ends their season and her colleger career. “A game is a game,” she said. “It doesn't matter who is across the dugout from us. We just have to go out there and play Auburn softball.”
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