Starkville, Miss.--Auburn jumped on Alabama early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning on the way to a 6-4 victory to move into the semi-finals of the SEC Softball Tournament on Friday.
The Tigers will take on top-seed and No. 1 ranked Florida at 4:30 p.m. CDT for the right to advance to the championship game, which Auburn won last season.
Auburn improved its record to 47-9 while Alabama, which did not have to face Auburn in the regular season, heads home with a 46-12 mark.
The Tigers opened the game with back-to-back singles by Tiffany Howard and Emily Carosone followed by a walk to Cooper.
Sophomore catcher Carlee Wallace put the Tigers up 2-0 with a double to left center field.
The lead increased to 3-0 on a groundout to shortstop by Jade Rhodes and 4-0 when Alabama’s second base dropped a Madi Gipson fly ball in short right field.
“That was our plan--to get on them quick and score runs,” said Carosone, whose team was supposed to play the Tide on Thursday night, but that game was postponed due to rain.
Alabama cut the lead to 4-1 with a two-out walk by Rachael Walters, who then gave up a double.
Rhodes made it 5-1 Tigers in the second inning with a single to center to score Carosone, who reached on a single.
Each team scored single runs in the third inning. Carosone drove home Victoria Draper to make the lead 6-2.
With one out in the top of the fourth inning the Tigers brought in freshman Makayla Martin to pitch for Walters, who gave up four hits and two earned runs 3 1/3 innings.
Martin allowed two hits, two runs, one which was earned, in 3 2/3 innings, to pick up her third save. Walters, a senior lefty, improved to 10-3.
The Tide added single runs in the fifth and the sixth innings, but that was as close as Alabama would get.
Coach Clint Myers said that he liked what he saw from Martin in her collegiate postseason debut. “She was the Ice Queen out there,” he said. “She is a tough kid. She wants to pitch, she wants the ball. That is what you want.”
Carosone, who had three hits, led the Auburn attack as the Tigers out-hit the Tide 10-7.
“It was nice to have our own little Iron Bowl in the SEC Tournament,” said Carosone, a senior who noted that she was disappointed the Tigers and Tide did not play in the regular season. “I am very pleased with how it turned out.”
Auburn and Florida are meeting for the fourth time this season with the Gators winning two out of three at Auburn during the opening weekend of SEC play.