An early start time Sunday didn’t seem to impact the Auburn softball team, which finished its undefeated run in the USF Spring Classic with a 9-4 victory over LIU-Brooklyn.
The No. 4 Tigers (27-3) extended their winning streak to six games in a nonconference matchup that started at 8 a.m. CT. But Auburn’s offense was wide awake, engineering a seven-run third inning behind triples and home runs from its top four hitters — Carlee Wallace, Kasey Cooper, Haley Fagan and Kendall Veach.
Makayla Martin (12-3) opened and closed the contest with four scoreless innings separated in the middle by relief appearances from Ashlee Swindle and Jenna Abbott. Martin allowed only one base runner, continuing the great form from fellow starting pitcher Kaylee Carlson, who had a perfect game Saturday.
Player of the game
SS Haley Fagan: 1 for 3 with 1 HR and 3 RBI
Auburn senior shortstop Haley Fagan didn’t have the best of starts to the weekend after being named SEC player of the week for her work against LSU.
Fagan found herself in a mini-slump heading into Sunday’s game, but she changed all of that with one swing of the bat in the third inning.
Fagan crushed a tying two-run homer in the third that bounced off the scoreboard in Clearwater. She excelled in the final game of the weekend in her home state, adding a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth to give Martin some more insurance.
Auburn’s offense came alive in the third after a LIU-Brooklyn home run.
After two perfect innings to start the game from Martin, Auburn’s coaching staff made the decision to give freshman Ashlee Swindle some work with a 1-0 lead. She allowed a three-run homer in the top of the third that put the Blackbirds ahead, but the Tigers didn’t let her stay down for long.
Cooper led off with a triple, and Fagan drilled her home run on the next at-bat. After a Courtney Shea single, Veach mashed a no-doubt two-run homer to put the Tigers back on top. The bottom of the order engineered some more base runners, and Wallace brought two home on a triple that she quickly scored on thanks to a throwing error.
In total, Auburn had 7 runs on 6 hits — including two home runs and two triples — in the bottom of the third inning. It was the best offensive outburst of the weekend for the heavy-hitting Tigers.
Auburn keeps its groove going with runners on base on Sunday.
During the first three games of the weekend, Auburn had underwhelming performances with runners on base — including a 2 for 18 game against Illinois on Saturday. But the Tigers got things rolling again against Ohio State, and that carried over against LIU-Brooklyn.
Auburn batted an impressive .545 with runners on and .500 with runners in scoring position against the Blackbirds. The Tigers also went 6 for 12 with two outs, which kept things going in its monster third inning.
After a slower offensive start in the tournament, Auburn needed a pair of games like it had against Ohio State and LIU-Brooklyn, especially with a trip to No. 2 Florida on the docket for next weekend.
What’s next for Auburn softball
Auburn travels back to Florida next weekend — this time to face the No. 2 Gators.
The Tigers return to the Sunshine State next weekend to take on No. 2 Florida, which is receiving first-place votes in the NFCA Coaches Poll. The Gators (25-1) have won 17 straight games heading into Sunday, when they’ll look to wrap up a sweep of SEC opponent South Carolina.
The series will run from Saturday to Monday instead of the usual weekend order. The Saturday and Sunday games will be televised on ESPN2, with the Monday finale going on the SEC Network.
Auburn split its four games against Florida last season, losing two of three in an opening regular season series before knocking off the then-No. 1 Gators in the SEC Tournament semifinals.