OKLAHOMA CITY — Auburn is two wins from its first softball national championship.
The fourth-seeded Tigers beat No. 8 Florida State 8-7 in eight innings Sunday night in the Women’s College World Series semifinals, clinching Auburn its first-ever berth in the WCWS championship series.
Auburn (57-10) will face No. 3 Oklahoma in the best-of-three championship series, which begins at 7 p.m. (CT) Monday. The Sooners advanced by ousting LSU in Sunday’s other semifinal.
The Tigers took a 3-1 lead in the first inning Sunday when sophomore catcher Carlee Wallace blasted a three-run home run.
FSU scored two runs in the top of the second and another in the third to take a 4-3 lead, but Auburn senior Jade Rhodes gave the Tigers back the lead in the bottom of the third with a three-run home run of her own.
Then junior third baseman Kasey Cooper got in on the home run party with a fourth inning solo shot — her 20th of the year — that broke Auburn’s single-season home run record.
Florida State threatened to get back on the board in the top of the sixth, when it had runners on first and second and FSU leadoff hitter Morgan Klaevemann roped a shot into left center field. But Auburn center fielder Victoria Draper laid out to make an incredible diving catch and maintain the Tigers’ 7-4 lead.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) June 6, 2016
But the Seminoles weren’t done just yet. In the top of the seventh, with Auburn leading by three, FSU freshman Cali Harrod blasted a three-run shot to tie the game and send it to an extra inning.
Auburn sophomore Madi Gipson opened the bottom of the eighth with a single to left field that was mishandled by Florida State’s Alex Kossoff, allowing Gipson to advance all the way to third base.
Freshman Morgan Podany pinch-ran for Gipson and on the next at-bat, Auburn’s Whitney Jordan hit a ground ball to second base, and Podany beat Ellie Cooper’s throw to the plate, sending the Tigers into a wild celebration.
Auburn’s berth in the WCWS championship series marks the latest — and, to date, most significant — achievement in coach Clint Myers’ turnaround project.
Myers, who won two national championships as Arizona State’s head coach, became Auburn’s head coach three years ago and took the Tigers to an NCAA regional in his first season on the job.
Last year — Myers’ second at Auburn — saw the Tigers reach the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history. Auburn returned this year and will now be one of the final two teams standing.
Including his time at Arizona State, this is Myers’ seventh trip to the WCWS.