Kasey Cooper (above) has 11 home runs this season.
Lexington, Ky.--Auburn won its sixth consecutive SEC softball game and assured itself of a series victory with a 6-5 win on Saturday vs. the Kentucky Wildcats.
Two-run homers from Kasey Cooper and Courtney Shea were key blows as the Tigers out-hit the Wildcats 10-3.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Makayla Martin got the win to improve to 8-0. She gave up three runs on just two hits in five innings.
Senior lefty Rachael Walters, who picked the save in two innings of relief, struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the victory.
Auburn improved its record to 32-4 overall and 8-3 in the SEC. Kentucky fell to 31-7 overall and 8-3 in the SEC. The teams will conclude their series with a noon CDT start on Sunday.
“We have a chance to do something that is rarely done in the SEC and that’s sweeping a ranked opponent on the road,” Coach Clint Myers said. “We have to lock in and get focused for tomorrow for a very good Kentucky team.”
The game, which included a nearly half-hour delay with the Tigers putting the game under protest claiming that the Wildcats substituted improperly, got off to an unusual start with Kentucky taking a 1-0 lead without the benefit of a hit.
In the second inning a swinging strike three on a pitch in the dirt allowed a batter to reach first base. After moving to second and then third on ground balls, a two-out wild pitch by Martin scored a run.
Auburn answered immediately with five runs in the top of the third. Tiffany Howard started the rally with a single and moved to second on a ground ball prior to Kasey Cooper hitting a home run over the left field fence to make the score 2-1.
Doubles by Carlee Wallace and Madi Gipson increased the lead to 3-1 before Shea homered to left field to make the score 5-1.
Neither team scored again until the fifth inning when the Wildcats cut the lead to 5-3 on just two hits.
Auburn answered with a single run in the top of the sixth inning as Howard, who had reached base on a bunt single, scored on a double by Emily Carosone.
Auburn’s three-run lead was trimmed to just one in the sixth inning.
Relief pitcher Marcy Harper, who walked the leadoff batter on four pitches, was pulled in favor of Walters. That runner scored on a double to right and a fielding error by Morgan Podany that put a runner on third base where she scored on a sacrifice fly.
The Tigers didn’t respond with more runs in the top of the seventh, but Walters closed out the game with a strong pitching performance.
“It was a heck of a ball game,” Myers said. “We swung pretty good and had great pitching. Makayla didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning and Rachael just right away, slammed the door on them."