Kasey Cooper (above) heads to the plate after her first-inning home run.
Auburn, Ala.--Kasey Cooper broke the SEC runs batted in record and Makayla Martin was the winning pitcher for the Auburn softball Tigers in her return from a suspension in a 6-3 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday.
Cooper set the tone early with a two-run homer over the center field fence in the top of first inning. The senior third baseman added one more RBI and has 266 in four seasons with three regular season games and the postseason still to play.
“It is a little bit sweeter on day likes this because it is senior day and is senior weekend,” Cooper said of her home run that broke the SEC record. “What better way to go out with a sweep and set a career record at home. It was awesome.”
Asked if she likes the way she has been hitting the ball recently, Cooper said, “I feel so comfortable in the box--I just feel confident. I would say back to my old self, but I feel like my new self.” Cooper has boosted her batting average over .300 to .305 and has a .589 slugging percentage and a .471 on-base percentage.
Cooper noted that she wished she had hit better early in the season, but added, “I am glad it came now.”
Coach Clint Myers made it clear again that he is a big fan of Cooper, who was one of five players honored on senior day along with Sydne Waldrop, Madi Gipson, Jenna Abbott and Haley Fagan.
“It was a change-up and she hit the crap out of it,” Myers said of the home run that set the tone for the day as the Tigers swept the three-game series vs. Mississippi State.
“She is an All-American in my book whether or not she wins the fourth one,” Myers said. “She has a chance to be a Rhodes Scholar and is graduating with honors and distinction. She is a phenomenal athlete, she is a phenomenal student. There are so many accolades you can say about her. I am proud of her.”
Cooper hit this pitch over the center field fence to set the SEC RBI record formerly held by Charlotte Morgan of Alabama.
Martin pitched six innings and allowed six hits on the way to improving her record to 17-5. Kaylee Carlson pitched a 1-2-3 seventh in relief.
For the Tigers it was a fourth straight victory as they improved their record to 43-8 and 15-6 in the SEC following a three-game sweep of the Bulldogs, who fell to 34-18 overall and 8-13 in the SEC.
Auburn scored three in the first inning with Victoria Draper walking and scoring on Cooper’s homer.
Carlee Wallace then doubled to right field, but was injured sliding into second base. Wallace, who suffered a cut lip, is expected to be ready to go when the Tigers return to practice on Tuesday, Myers said. Her pinch-runner, Waldrop, moved to third on a single by Alyssa Rivera and scored on a groundout double play by Fagan, who was in her first game back since being suspended at the same time Martin and reserve Brittany Maresette were. Each player missed six games.
On her senior day Abbott led off the second inning with a walk. One out singles by Casey McCrackin and Draper loaded the bases for Cooper, whose hard-hit ground ball to second scored a run on a groundout. Courtney Shea, who had taken over for Wallace at center, then hit a shot back at the pitcher knocking her glove off and two more runs scored. The speedy Draper just beat the play at the plate with a slide for the second run on the play as she raced home from second base.
Victoria Draper beats a tag at home plate to score for the Tigers.
The Bulldogs chipped into the lead with a single run on two hits in the fourth inning and two runs on three hits in the sixth inning, but the Tigers closed their regular season home schedule with a 28-4 mark at Jane B. Moore Field before each of the seniors was honored in a post-game ceremony.
The Tigers return to action for their final regular series that will be played Friday-Sunday at Alabama.