Pitcher Kaylee Carlson (above, left) talks with Kasey Cooper.
Auburn, Ala.--Kasey Cooper played the role of superheroine Friday night for the Auburn Tigers softball team, launching the first pitch of her bottom of the seventh, two out at-bat into orbit over the right field fence for a three-run, walk-off homer giving the Tigers a 4-3 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs.
“See ball, hit ball,” the All-American third baseman after her record-setting night. Cooper now holds the career RBI record at Auburn with 210.
“I just wanted to pass the baton,” the junior said. “Tiff (Howard) found a way on, Emily (Carosone) had a great hit up the middle and the job was to be a snowflake. Be a snowflake means you want to be the snowflake before the avalanche comes. We just kept it going. None of us wanted to be the last out and we found a way.”
The victory puts the Tigers’ record at 43-5 (13-3 SEC) while Georgia falls to 37-11 (9-7 SEC), and it would come as no surprise that Coach Clint Myers was in an ecstatic mood after the stunning win.
Kasey Cooper celebrates her home run.
“Outstanding,” Myers said after the remarkable finish. “Just like we planned. We like to keep the crowd here involved and we didn’t make the last out.
“You look at the scoreboard and we outhit them nine to six and four or five of those were bunts for (Georgia),” he pointed out. “We’re starting to find our swing. We had a couple of little things that we’ve got to clean up, but again, the biggest thing was how they found a way to win. (In the seventh) it’s three All-Americans coming to the plate, and we’ve got a pretty good chance to win.”
Georgia’s lineup, which leads the SEC with a .369 batting average, quickly showed Myers’s team that they came to play by loading the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning. However, sophomore sensation Kaylee Carlson proved her mental toughness by getting out of the jam only allowing one run. Again the Bulldogs would fill the bases in the second, and Carlson would escape allowing nothing this time around.
“Runners are going to get on all the time,” said Carlson. “What I have to do the most is be confident in myself and trust my defense. That’s the key. If you’re confident in your defense and in yourself then you just have to stay strong out there. Keep your composure, and that’s what is going to get you out of those tough situations.”
Carlson would then slip up in the top of the third allowing a two-run, opposite field home run to Bulldog third baseman Alyssa DiCarlo. Nevertheless, the University of North Carolina transfer kept her composure and retired 13 straight batters after the DiCarlo’s long ball. Carlson finished her complete game giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Her record for the season now sits at an impressive 13-0.
“I thought she pitched outstanding,” Myers said. “She gave up six hits and four were bunts. You’re talking about two of the fastest players in the country got three of (the bunt hits). We know what we’re going to face, and we’ve got to do a little better job on defense. Again, she made pitches when she had to.”
The Tigers were able to manufacture a run in the bottom of the third with Carosone knocking in Howard from third on a fielder’s choice by the shortstop Lacey Sumerlin.
Cooper finished the night 2-4 with the three-run homer while Howard was 3-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Game two of the series is set for a 1 p.m. CDT start with television coverage provided by ESPNU.