Coach Clint Myers (above) gives his team encouragement on Sunday.
Auburn, Ala. -- Another weekend SEC series, another sweep for the Auburn Tigers softball team, which remains in a first place tie in the league with the Florida Ators.
Coach Clint Myers and his team won a hard-fought pitching duel on Sunday, defeating the visiting Georgia Bulldogs 2-1 to improve their record to 45-5 (15-3 SEC). The Dawgs fall to 37-13 with an even 9-9 SEC record.
“It’s two very good teams and it’s a complete effort as far as what we need to do and what they need to do,” Myers said after the low-scoring affair. “(Georgia’s starting pitcher) Wilkinson threw the ball well. We still outhit them five to three and they didn’t get the bunt hits that they got the first two days. That’s huge.
"If you keep the rabbits off the bases it reduces their chance at scoring," he said. "I think that Lexi (Davis) and Rachael (Walters) did a magnificent job at pitching. Again, that’s what we’ve been reliant on all year long with good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.”
Senior right-hander Lexi Davis pitches on Sunday for the Tigers.
Georgia, the SEC’s leading team in batting average (.366) and hits (467), was almost kept off the scoreboard Sunday evening. The Bulldogs would have been if not for a moment of brilliance from Georgia’s Alyssa DiCarlo. The third baseman got Georgia on the scoreboard by almost hitting a home run over it. Her second long ball of the series in the top of the fourth gave the visitors a 1-0 lead. That margin was held until the bottom of the sixth when Auburn came through as they have many other occasions this season with timely hitting.
Right fielder Madi Gipson, who earlier in the contest almost put Auburn on top with a potential three-run homer that went just foul down the left field line, hit a perfectly-placed ball into right-center field that just dropped between the outfielders for a double. Kasey Cooper scored from second and the game was tied 1-1.
“I was just focusing on getting the ball on the ground,” Gipson remarked on her game-tying RBI double. That’s our mentality. I was ecstatic. I was like ‘please get down, please get down!, Cooper can score on this.’ It was great that it fell and scored the run.”
Tiger catcher Courtney Shea would then give Auburn the lead with some small ball scoring pinch runner Bree Fornis from third on a groundout to the shortstop.
Going into the top of the seventh inning only up a run might have been worrisome to other players and coaches facing the league’s best hitting team, but with the form that the Auburn pitchers were in over the weekend a pressure situation like that was nothing to be worried about, especially for reliever Rachael Walters.
“My mentality is the next pitch is always the most important one,” Walters said of how she handles high pressure outings. “I mean I could throw a great pitch one (time) and then mess up and it’s the ball game. I really like high pressure situations. It’s kind of what I feed off of. I just focus on one pitch at a time and I just always know that I was better than the batter. That just helps me move along.”
Walters entered the game for starter Lexi Davis to start the top of the fifth and pitched three innings of hitless softball with one strikeout while only allowing a walk. She received the win taking her record to 8-2 for the year. Davis went four innings and gave up one run on three hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
Besides DiCarlo, the only other Bulldog to really show up over the weekend was pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson. She went six innings on Sunday allowing the two runs on five hits with four walks and a strikeout. In total for the series she went 11 innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and five walks while getting five K’s. She now sits at a very respectable 21-4 on the season.
Auburn junior Kasey Cooper rounds second base in Sunday's contest.
The Tigers won’t play any midweek games before heading to Knoxville to face Tennessee for their last away series of the regular season. First pitch is set for next Saturday at 7 p.m. CDT with the contest being televised by ESPN2.