The Tigers (above) celebrate after improving to 2-0 in the College World Series.
Oklahoma City--Auburn’s road to the College Softball World Series championship round avoided a detour on Saturday night as the Tigers rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to defeat Georgia 4-3.
Auburn will play at 6 p.m. CDT on Sunday (ESPN2 TV coverage) vs. Florida State, which eliminated Michigan on Sunday. The Tigers need one more win to advance to the best two-out-three series to determine the national champion that will start on Monday or Tuesday while FSU would need to beat the Tigers twice to make the championship round.
"These young ladies are winners and do what winners do," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said.
"That was a hell of game," Myers added. "We are very excited. It puts us in a great place. I am really proud of the fight. They never quit. They stayed in the game and they beat a very, very good Georgia team."
With the victory the Tigers improved to 56-10, matching last season's team for the most victories in school history.
Four of those victories have come at the expense of the Georgia Bulldogs. Interestingly, the first time they met this season Auburn scored three runs in the seventh inning to win 4-3 at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn.
Sophomore center fielder Victoria Draper, the No. 9 hitter in the batting order, started Auburn's seventh inning rally with a leadoff single to center field to open the seventh inning. A fielding error by UGA second baseman Alex Hugo on a ground ball by Tiffany Howard put runners on first and third.
Sophomore Victoria Draper scores Auburn's first of three runs in the seventh inning.
Kasey Cooper then hit a shot into right field for an RBI single to score Draper and moved to second base on the throw to third base.
Emily Carosone followed with a single to right field to tie the game at 3-3.
Emily Carosone drives a single through the right side
After Carlee Wallace fouled out, Jade Rhodes hit a ground ball to first base than allowed Cooper to score the winning run from third base. Carosone was ruled out for leaving the base path for out two. After Cooper crossed the plate Rhodes was ruled out for being touched by first base coach Scott Woodard, who was trying to get the senior first baseman to get back on base.
Asked what happened, Rhodes said, "My excitement got to me, but then I have to realize like the run did count, so even though my excitement got to me, I can't let myself get down so I had to go back on defense and we had to finish it strong."
The senior said at first she was concerned the go-ahead run would be taken off the board. "I did kind of like throw my
hands on my helmet, like, 'oh my gosh, what did I just do? But when I did realize that the run counted, my teammates had to gather me and say, look, we just need three outs from you. We had to have solid defense."
Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Howard reached base on an infield hit and advanced to third on a wild pitch followed by a bad throw from the catcher. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Carosone.
The Bulldogs tied the game with a single run in the second inning off of starting pitcher Makayla Martin, who surrendered a double and a single.
Georgia moved ahead with single runs in the third and fourth inning off of reliever Rachael Walters and that appeared to be all that pitcher Chelsea Wilkinson needed as she escaped early trouble and settled in to allow the Tigers just four hits in the first six innings.
The following is the ruling on how the top of the seventh inning ended:
Pool reporter questions and answers with Vickie Van Kleeck, NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor (softball) concerning the top of the seventh inning of the Auburn-Georgia game:
Reporter: The second out in the top of the seventh, what happened there?
Van Kleek: The second out in the top of the seventh was the runner between first and second, running to second, who ran out of her basepath – 3 feet on either side of her established basepath. She was called out for that.
Reporter: And that is an automatic out?
Van Kleek: That is an automatic out, absolutely.
Reporter: Let's proceed to out three.
Van Kleek: Out number three was because the batter-runner reached first and then vacated the base, and then the assistant coach physically assisted her back to the base, which by rule 9.6 is an out, because being physically assisted by a coach, the baserunner is out.
Reporter: And to clarify, that was the coach who was coaching first base?
Van Kleek: Coaching first base, yes.
Reporter: The third thing that I need to ask, so we understand, is why does the run count in that situation?
Van Kleek: Because the third out of that inning was not a force-out, the run will count. Say, for example, if she had not reached first base and he pulled her back, then we would have no run counting. But because she already reached first base, this happened after, and then the run scored, so that's why we have the run.