Coach Clint Myers greets Carlee Wallace as she heads home following her home run.
Auburn, Ala.--Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Auburn tied the SEC softball game vs. Mississippi State with a leadoff homer by Casey McCrackin and won it with a walk-off, grandslam homer by Carlee Wallace.
The 6-2 victory improved Auburn’s record to 42-8 overall and 14-6 in the SEC going into Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m. CDT at Jane B. Moore Field.
With runners on first and second base and no outs following McCrackin’s line drive over the left field fence and back-to-back singles by K.K. Crocker and Victoria Draper, the Bulldogs wouldn’t give All-American Kasey Cooper, who was 3-3 going into the at-bat, a pitch to hit.
After Cooper was walked on four pitches, MSU pulled lefty starter Alexis Silkwood for a right-handed pitcher, Cassany Knudsen. Facing a 3-1 count to Wallace, the pitcher put a fastball down the middle and Wallace cleared bases with a towering drive over the center field fence.
“I was smiling, I love it, I was ready,” said Wallace, who has developed a reputation as a clutch hitter.
Before she stepped into the batter’s box the junior catcher noted that she visualized other situations where she came through with key hits for the Tigers and that strategy paid off.
“I don’t really take it personally,” ?Wallace said of the walk to Cooper to load the bases with her at the plate. “I wouldn’t want Coop to beat me because she is so good. I guarantee she would have done the exact same thing if they gave her something to hit.”
Coach Clint Myers said he would have taken it personally for the opponent to move the winning run to third base to pitch to him if he was in the game and noted he wasn't surprised that Wallace came through with the winning hit.
“We have been waiting for that game for a long time,” Myers said. “That was a real comeback.”
Carlee Wallace extends her swing for a home run in the seventh inning.
For the Tigers it was the first time this season to rally for a victory when trailing going into the seventh inning.
Auburn finished the game with 10 hits and that number could have been higher with multiple hard-hit balls going right to Mississippi State fielders.
Myers said he was excited for McCrackin, who came into the game batting .213. She was filling in at shortstop for Whitney Jordan, whose back “tightened up” in the previous game, according to the coach. Jordan had been filling in for Haley Fagan, who is serving an indefinite suspension.
“She has had a real tough season, but Casey was in there because Whit had a real hard time yesterday and she has got a bad back,” Myers said. “We said go up there have some fun, swing the bat and make some plays, and she did have fun.”
McCrackin can confirm the fun part, noting that she knew her game-tying homer was going over the fence. However, she was worried whether or not it would curve foul, but that didn’t happen.
McCrackin pointed out that she had been “practicing all week” to hit a left-hander’s pitch on the inside corner, which is where the home run pitch was thrown. “I?am pretty sure it was in my (swing) box,” said McCrackin, who noted as the leadoff hitter in the seventh inning she was trying to do “anything to get on”?base with the Tigers down one run. “Hitting a home run was not planned,” she said with a big smile. “But, I am really happy with the results.”
Myers pointed out that the 6-2 victory was the type of win that can build momentum for a run in postseason and noted that he was really happy to see McCrackin contribute in a major way. “I haven’t seen her smile like that in a long time,” the coach said.
Freshman second baseman K.K. Crocker turns a double play started by Kasey Cooper on a ground ball to third base.
The Bulldogs built a 2-0 lead with solo home runs off of Kaylee Carlson, who improved her record to 24-3 as she went the distance for a second straight night allowing six hits. Oliva Golden made it 1-0 in the third inning and Caroline Seitz’s second home run of the series made it 2-0 in the fourth inning.
Auburn cut the margin to 2-1 in the fifth with an RBI single by freshman Alyssa Rivera to score pinch-runner Sydne Waldrop, who ran for Cooper following a two-out single.
That set the stage for the dramatic seventh inning with the Tigers scoring five runs to the delight of a standing room only crowd of 2,331.
Silkwood took the loss to fall to 14-6 and her team dropped to 34-17 overall and 8-12 in the SEC.
As Auburn goes for the sweep on Sunday, Myers said his starting pitcher is still to be announced.