OKLAHOMA CITY — No. 4 Auburn rallied in the top of the seventh inning Saturday evening to beat 16th-seeded Georgia 4-3 and advance in the Women’s College World Series, but a wild sequence near the end of the game created some immediate confusion.
Auburn trailed the Bulldogs 3-1 entering the seventh, but Victoria Draper opened the Tigers’ half of the inning with a single up the middle.
Kasey Cooper singled two batters later to score Draper, and Emily Carosone followed that by driving home the tying run with a single through the right side.
Carlee Wallace fouled out for the first out of the inning, and that’s when the weirdness occurred.
With Cooper on third base and Carosone on first, Jade Rhodes hit a ground ball to second base.
Carosone was called out automatically because she ran inside the basepath on her way to second. That stalled Georgia second baseman Alex Hugo just enough to allow Cooper to score from third, and Rhodes was ruled to have reached first base on a fielder’s choice.
Then, Rhodes was called out.
“We got a little excited and kind of wandered off first base, and that’s illegal,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said after the game.
Vickie Van Kleeck, an NCAA secretary-rules editor, further explained that because Auburn first base coach Scott Woodard “physically assisted” Rhodes back to the base, she was automatically out, per rule 12.8.3.
Much of the immediate confusion stemmed from the fact that Auburn’s run still counted, but Van Kleeck explained that happened because the third out of the inning was not a force out.
For her part, Rhodes admitted being immediately concerned after she was called out.
“I did kind of like throw my hands on my helmet, like, ‘Oh my gosh; what did I just do?’” Rhodes said in the postgame news conference.
“But when I did realize that the run counted, my teammates had to gather me and say, ‘Look, we just need three outs from you.’”
Georgia threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning — putting two runners on base with two outs — but the game ended when Sydni Emanuel bunted to the pitcher and was thrown out.
Auburn advances to face either Florida State at 6 p.m. (CT) Sunday. A win would clinch the program its first-ever berth in the championship series, while a loss would force an “if-necessary” game Monday to determine whether the Tigers or Seminoles advance.
Georgia, meanwhile, moves into the losers’ bracket and will play LSU at 2:30 p.m. (CT) Sunday.
The Bulldogs’ loss snapped a four-game winning streak that included a Super Regional sweep of two-time defending national champion and No. 1-ranked Florida.