Shortstop Haley Fagan (above) holds up a turtle in the dugout at Starkville.
Starkville, Miss.--A key part of the story concerning Auburn’s run to the SEC Softball Tournament championship was the team’s goal of playing for their injured teammate, senior Kelsey Bogaards.
The well-liked shortstop, who is nicknamed “Turtle,” suffered an ACL injury in fall practice that required surgery. After working diligently to get back to play at the end of her final season she got the start in last Sunday’s regular season finale vs. Texas A&M.
Known as an outstanding defensive player, she started a double play in a key situation as the Tigers closed the regular season with a victory over the Aggies to earn a first round bye in the SEC Tournament. Unfortunately for Bogaards, she injured the other knee on the play and is done with college softball.
Auburn’s win over the Aggies meant the Tigers had to win just three games to repeat as SEC champion instead of four.
Bogaards made the trip to Starkville on Saturday to be with her teammates, who kept a toy turtle on the bench with them during their SEC Tournament victories over Alabama, Florida and LSU to remind them of the injured senior.
“You can see what Kelsey means to them,” Coach Clint Myers said. “When Kelsey went down there was a pit in your stomach that was aching because she worked so hard. Today, there were tears in her eyes because she knows she would have been jumping up and down the same way had it not happen.
“They are family,” Auburn’s coach added. “When someone goes down, you try and pick them back up. Right now, that’s what they are trying to do.
“We knew this was a special group of young ladies,” Myers said of the Tigers winning back-to-back SEC Tournament titles. “The credit goes to them. They are the ones who swing the bats, field the balls, run the bases and that work hard and put in the countless hours it takes to become a champion.”
Kelsey Bogaards started 62 games at shortstop for the 2014 Tigers.
Senior second baseman Emily Carosone was a key performer in Auburn’s three victories at Nusz Field concluding with a 7-1 win on Saturday vs. LSU in the championship game.
“Kelsey is our motivation now,” said Carosone, back-to-back winner of the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player award after hitting .455 in Starkville. “It sucks seeing a senior go down who has worked so hard. We were her motivation and now she is ours.
“It’s funny to see how the tables have turned,” she added. “We are trying to play. When she went out that last game, she gave it 100 percent, and that’s what we’re trying to do for her since she can’t.”