Freezing temperatures canceled two midweek road games for Auburn softball, but the Tigers found themselves in perfect weather for a Friday doubleheader in Tampa, Fla.
That was perfect for Auburn, too, as the No. 4 Tigers defeated NDSU by a score of 2-1 and tournament host USF by a score of 4-0 Friday to improve to 24-3 on the season.
Auburn needed a walk-off hit from junior outfielder Madi Gipson to take down NDSU in Game 1. But the offense came easier against USF as Carlee Wallace notched 3 RBI in the Game 2 shutout victory.
Game 1: Auburn 2, NDSU 1
The opening game on Friday was a pitcher’s duel for most of the way, but the Tigers scrounged up enough offense in the bottom of the 7th inning to defeat NDSU, 2-1. Madi Gipson hit a walk-off RBI single with the bases loaded two innings after Kasey Cooper hammered a solo home run to tie the game.
In the circle, starting pitcher Kaylee Carlson improved to 14-0 on the season, notched 7 strikeouts and allowed just 3 hits. She retired the first 12 batters of the game before a solo home run from NDSU designated player Vanessa Anderson.
Player of the game
3B Kasey Cooper: 2-for-4, 1 HR and 1 RBI
The defending SEC Player of the Year’s strong Game 1 got off to a rough start. She struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 1st, and Auburn struggled to generate much offense after that golden opportunity.
However, Cooper made up for it in the 5th inning by matching Anderson’s solo home run, her fifth of the year. Two innings later, she started Auburn’s game-winning rally by drilling a single up the middle.
Cooper got a pinch runner right before the final play, but she generated the winning run with her clutch hitting. She was the only Auburn batter to have multiple hits against NDSU on Friday, continuing her strong play from last weekend’s series win over LSU.
Auburn was finally able to string together consistent offense in the final inning.
Before the final inning, Auburn was a dreadful 1-for-13 with runners on base and 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. But after loading the bases and leaving them stranded in the 1st, the Tigers weren’t going to make the same mistakes twice.
Cooper got things going in the bottom of the 7th with a one-out single, and Haley Fagan knocked an important single of her own a few pitches later.
After Kendall Veach showed tremendous plate discipline by walking after a long at-bat, Gipson drilled a ball down the right side that brought pinch runner Bree Fornis home.
Haley Fagan keeps her on-base streak alive at the last possible moment.
The defending SEC Player of the Week entered the game on a career-best 23-game on-base streak, but it was in serious jeopardy heading into the bottom of the 7th.
After a strikeout and two flyouts, Fagan finally got one to drop in the 7th inning. Her single to center field extended the streak to 24 games, and it brought Cooper into scoring position with just one out.
Talk about perfect timing for the senior shortstop. She extended the streak to 24 straight with a walk in Game 2.
Auburn softball vs. NDSU box score
Game 2: Auburn 4, USF 0
Auburn softball needed need the final frame to put away USF in Game 2, as the Tigers blanked their hosts 4-0 behind great hitting from Carlee Wallace and excellent pitching from Makayla Martin.
Wallace generated most of the runs in the game with her bat in the leadoff spot, including a 2-run bomb in the 4th inning. Martin tossed a 2-hitter and picked up her 10th win of the season.
Player of the game
C Carlee Wallace
Since her move to the top of the Auburn lineup a few weeks ago, no one is swinging the bat better than Wallace. The junior catcher moved up to a .386 average after Friday’s action, which is the best among the Tigers’ regular starters.
Wallace walked on her first two trips to the plate, with her first free pass bringing in Auburn’s opening run of the game in the 2nd inning. Two frames later, she uncorked a 2-run shot to left-center field to double Auburn’s lead to 4-0.
Wallace now ranks second on the team in RBI (25) and home runs (6), and she’s only struck out three times this season — the fewest among all Tigers who took the field in Game 2. The junior catcher makes everything go for the Auburn offense at the top of the order.
Wallace’s 2-run home run put some distance between the Tigers and the hosts.
Martin was dealing in the circle for Auburn when Wallace came up to the plate in the top of the 4th inning. But the sophomore could always use some more run support, especially considering Auburn has scored just one run in her three losses this season.
Wallace drilled a home run, Auburn’s second of the day, to bring speedy center fielder Victoria Draper home and make it a 4-0 contest. The Tigers breathed a little easier after the bomb as Martin continued to mow down USF hitters to pick up a complete game shutout.
Makayla Martin rebounds with one of her strongest outings of the season.
The last time Martin pitched for Auburn, the Tigers took a run-rule loss to SEC foe LSU. Five days later, Martin responded with her best game of the season — a 2-hit complete game shutout.
Martin, who had a complete game shutout over USF last year, set down eight straight batters from the 2nd to the 4th inning after loading the bases in the 1st. That dangerous spot in the first frame was the closest USF came to putting runs on the board until the 7th, when Martin loaded the bases with 2 outs.
While she doesn’t have the spotless record of junior Kaylee Carlson, Martin now sports the team’s best ERA after her shutout win over USF. Martin is the definition of an ace that pitches to contact, as she only struck out three batters.