AUBURN, Ala. — Several different heroes emerged for Auburn softball through its first two NCAA Tournament regional games.
Yet with a third Super Regional in program history on the line, everyone donned a cape ahead of a Sunday matchup with Cal.
In one of its most complete team wins of the season, Auburn snatched an early lead and stifled the Golden Bears for an 8-2 victory and third straight NCAA Tournament win.
“I think it was a great game for Auburn,” Tigers coach Clint Myers said. “We’ve been talking about putting all the pieces together, 15 hits yesterday, so obviously we’re very happy. We did a better job of situational hitting, we ran the bases well. We turned two double plays, which were huge for us and we’re getting solid pitching in the circle.”
Auburn made a muggy day on the Plains even warmer with a blazing start at Jane B. Moore Field. Victoria Draper and Kasey Cooper opened with back-to-back singles and a 2-run double from catcher Carlee Wallace scored Draper and Cooper, giving Myers’ team a 2-0 lead.
The next big play came from cleanup batter Haley Fagan, who sent a 2-run home run into the trees just beyond the right-field wall.
Ace Kaylee Carlson built on her team’s intensity after that, pitching a perfect first inning.
Cal continued to collapse in the second inning. Cooper singled, Wallace walked and Fagan singled to load the bases for Auburn.
That brought up Alyssa Rivera, who closed Auburn’s win on Saturday with a walk-off hit. Her 2-run double to left field put Auburn up 6-0.
Courtney Shea’s RBI single scored Fagan shortly after that, putting a run-rule win within reach.
Cal’s first run came off a wild pitch from Carlson in the third inning. The Bears threatened further in the sixth off Makayla Martin when 2 singles and a hit batter loaded the bases with nobody out, but Auburn responded by turning a double play and Martin finished the frame with a strikeout, leaving Cal with just 1 run in the inning.
— Auburn Softball (@AuburnSoftball) May 21, 2017
Cooper extended Auburn’s lead to 8-2 in the top of the seventh with a solo homer to left-center field into the scoreboard.
“From a confidence standpoint, everybody is confident,” said Cooper, who was 4 for 5 on the day. “We just played a great pitcher and we handled her.”
Auburn held Cal scoreless in the bottom half of the seventh, and a third straight celebration for a Super Regionals berth ensued.
“Auburn softball is playing well,” Myers said following the win. “And we’ve just got to keep it going through Supers and into the College World Series.”
Player of the game
Haley Fagan: 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB
Fagan probably earned MVP honors with her offensive and defensive showing in the regional final.
Her 2-run homer in the first gave Auburn a 4-0 lead, and she collected 2 more hits after that.
“I just think about hitting the ball and it’s working right now,” Fagan said. “The more we can hit, it’s better for our whole team.”
The shortstop also helped Carlson and Martin get in and out of the circle quickly with a few head-turning, diving plays.
What’s next for Auburn softball
Auburn can officially check another preseason goal off the list.
With the second straight win over the Golden Bears, and third consecutive NCAA Tournament win, the Tigers have secured a Super Regional on the Plains.
It’s the third time in program history Auburn will host a Super, all of which have occurred under Myers in the past three seasons.