Auburn Falls Just Short In Bid For Title

Auburn fell just short in its attempt to win the SEC softball championship.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Following a late night 2-0 victory over the top-seeded LSU Tigers, the Auburn softball team took a quick nap at the team hotel and then got up early on Sunday morning to face the SEC Tournament's top seed again with a spot in the championship game on the line.

Despite playing well, the Tigers came up one run short in a effort to take it all the way to the championship game following an opening round loss to in-state rival Alabama. The Tigers came up with three hits off of LSU ace hurler Kristin Schmidt, but LSU scored the game's only run in a wild fifth inning to earn the victory.

The game was locked in a scoreless tie heading into the fifth and then the fireworks began. Julie Wiese was able to lead off the inning for LSU by reaching the bases on a fielding error by Tigers' shortstop Ashley Griffin, who committed two on the day following a stellar performance the night before.

Robin Martin is tagged out by LSU on Sunday morning.

Sara Fitzgerald then sacrificed Wiese over to second and Camille Harris moved Wiese over to third with a base hit that put runners on the corners with one out. Auburn brought in Kristen Keyes to try and pitch out of the jam, but on her first pitch to LaDonia Hughes, Harris tried to steal second and was called out for leaving the bag early.

That call led to some action as LSU head coach Yvette Girouard and assistant coach James DeFeo were thrown out of the game for arguing the call. That left second year assistant Lori Osterberg to coach the Tigers for the remaining three innings.

The ejections did not play a role in the game, however, as Hughes, down 1-2 in the count, slapped a shot at Auburn first baseman Martha Phillips that was too hot to handle and rolled in to right field to score Wiese for the game's only run.

Auburn had chances to score in the fifth and seventh innings, but could not capitalize on the opportunities. In the fifth Sara Ghezzi ripped a one out double to right, but pinch runner Robin Martin was picked off after taking to large a lead at second.

Then, in the seventh, Shannon Anderson led off with single and was sacrificed to second with only one out, but a rope from Paige Jones was caught by Wiese, LSU's third baseman, and then she was also able to put out Griffin for the final out of the game.

For LSU Schmidt got the complete game shutout allowing only two hits. The senior struck out five Auburn batters and did not allow a walk in the game.

Auburn sent freshman Beth DiPietro to the mound and she put in a strong performance. DiPietro went 4 1/3 innings giving up only two hits and was charged with the only run, which was unearned. She also walked two LSU hitters and struck out one. Keyes went the final 2 2/3 innings for Auburn and allowed only one hit, which was the game winner, and struck out two.

Now, the Tigers, who drop to 42-16 with the loss, will wait and see where they are sent for an NCAA regional. The Tigers will get the news Sunday night and are likely to receive a number two seed in a regional at Florida State the likely choice.

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