Kasey Cooper (above) is shown in action last season vs. Oklahoma.
Auburn, Ala.--While Oklahoma’s lineup will be almost the same one that outlasted Auburn in the 2016 College Softball World Series championship two-out-of-three games showdown, a trio of key players from those contests said they are looking forward to playing the Sooners again.
Beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday the Tigers will entertain the Sooners in a best two-out-of-three super regional matchup. The winner makes a return trip to the College World Series and the loser is done until 2018.
“I think whoever makes a mistake is going to lose,” said third baseman Kasey Cooper. “It is going to be a tight game--everything matters.”
Junior catcher Carlee Wallace said, “The first one to crack is going to lose.”
Sophomore Makayla Martin said she is looking forward to another chance to pitch against the Sooners. She was the tough-luck loser in the national championship game vs. the Sooners and defeated them 3-2 in the 2017 season opener.
“I am excited,” said Martin, who added, “They are a tough team.”
Oklahoma, the No. 10 national seed, brings a 54-9 record to Jane B. Moore Field. Auburn, the No. 7 national seed, is 49-10. The two teams will play again at noon on Saturday and if necessary at noon on Sunday.
“We want to extend our season,” said Cooper, who will be playing her final college games at her home field this weekend no matter whether her Tigers win or lose. “We want to extend our season. We have had a good week of practice to prepare and we know it is going to be a really competitive game.”
Cooper’s coach, Clint Myers, agrees with the All-American that the Tigers have had a good week of practice since winning all three games of their regional. “We are doing everything we can do to get ready,” he said.
Senior shortstop Haley Fagan is shown at batting practices the Tigers prepare to play Oklahoma.
Although her Tigers weren’t able to defend their SEC Tournament championship this year, Cooper noted that what has happened before this weekend won’t impact what takes place between the Tigers and Sooners.
“We see the season as we have struggled, but last week was the best we have ever played,” she said of the 2017 squad’s up and down season, particularly at the plate. In three games at the Auburn regional the Tigers pounded out 40 hits.
“The team at the end that is hottest wins,” she said. “We know we are one of the best teams out there and we stand a really good shot at winning. We just have to play our game.”
Freshman second baseman K.K. Crocker makes a play during practice as the Tigers prepare for Friday's series opener.
After coming so close to winning the national championship last year, Wallace said the Tigers are on a mission to make that happen in 2017. “I think the whole season is unfinished business,” she pointed out. “It is not a whole lot to do with them (Oklahoma) personally, it is postseason period. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to last year and that made us mad. I am still mad about it to this day.”
The catcher added, “It still stings for me, it will sting for the rest of my life until we get the job done.”