Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Auburn softball head coach Clint Myers likes to talk about being a big fan of his junior pitcher, Kaylee Carlson, who showed why on Friday night. The right-hander put on a show in a 3-0 extra innings victory to open a three-game series at Alabama.
Carlson scattered five hits in nine innings as Auburn defeated the Tide for a fourth consecutive time in the rivalry. She added to her SEC leading victory total as she improved to 25-3.
“My mentality was to try to not make any mistakes and give them any free bases and allow them to score any runs,” said Carlson, who walked three batters and struck out three.
“I am not a big strikeout pitcher, I never have been,” she said. “I try to use my defense to make plays and they did that tonight, especially the last play by Haley (shortstop Haley Fagan’s leaping catch).”
Alabama’s starting pitcher was effective, too. “Alexis Osorio was doing a great job of keeping our hitters off-balance,” Carlson said. “Her rise ball is pretty ridiculous. I was just trying to stay positive for them because I needed to go out there and fight because they were doing the best they could.”
Osorio, who struck out 18 batters and walked 11, was pulled in the eighth inning with a runner on first base. Reliever Sydney Littlejohn finished the game, taking the loss to drop to 14-6 for the season. She is expected to be the starting pitcher for the Tide on Saturday vs. Makayla Martin.
The Tigers, who stranded 13 runners on base, finally broke through in the ninth inning with the top of the order coming to bat.
After Victoria Draper struck out, Kasey Cooper was hit by a pitch. She moved to second base on a single to left by Carlee Wallace and scored from there on slow roller to shortstop by Fagan, who was safe at first base when the throw was into the dirt.
Cooper kept running around third base and scored the winning run. Kendall Veach added two insurance runs on a two-out, blooper down the left field line.
Carlson then put down the Tide 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to take the victory as the Tigers won a fifth straight game.
AU’s interim pitching coach, Hunter Veach, was impressed with Carlson. “Carlson threw her butt off and that’s what it takes in the end,” he said.
Veach noted that the Tigers considered going to the bullpen in the ninth inning, but Carlson wanted to finish the contest. “She said, ‘I want this win more than anything right now.’ After she said it to me, I had no doubt about it.”
Alabama dropped to dropped to 39-14 overall and 11-10 in the SEC.
The teams will play again at 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday in a contest that will be televised on ESPN.