Auburn softball’s bats come alive Sunday to complete sweep of Kentucky

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AUBURN, Ala. — After snatching a big series win in SEC play against rival Alabama, Auburn softball kept the momentum going this weekend with a sweep of No. 19 Kentucky.

After losing its first four SEC games by a combined 5 runs, Auburn has won five straight by 8 runs. The Tigers are now 31-6 on the season with a 5-4 record in conference play. With the parity that’s buzzing through the league right now, Auburn has rebounded at the perfect time.

SEC Country was at Jane B. Moore Field all weekend for the Tigers’ sweep of the Wildcats — their first at home over a ranked conference foe since Georgia in 2016. Take a look at what went down in all three games below.

MORE: Auburn softball’s Tannon Snow shares inspiring story of returning to action

Game 3 (Sunday): Auburn 6, Kentucky 4

Auburn didn’t wait until its 84th at-bat of the game to break a deadlock Sunday against Kentucky. Instead, Casey McCrackin socked a solo home run on the second pitch of the game.

McCrackin’s solo home run in the 1st and RBI single in the 3rd led the way to Auburn’s sweep-completing 6-4 win over Kentucky. The second baseman finished the Kentucky series with 3 RBI and the new team lead for home runs with 6.

“She thrives on that,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said. “She thrives on it. You can see it in her face. She smiles when she’s on deck. … She loves it.”

After Kentucky took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 3rd on a 2-out, 2-run home run off of freshman Auburn starter Chardonnay Harris, the Tigers finally broke through with their situational hitting.

McCrackin, Courtney Shea and Kendall Veach each brought a runner home in three straight at-bats to put Auburn up 4-2.

“That was so great,” McCrackin said. “That’s what we needed. We needed to respond to them scoring, too, and we did that exceptionally well. Just need to keep doing that in the future.”

The Tigers maintained a 2-run lead in the 4th with a Morgan Podany RBI single after Kentucky tacked a run on Makayla Martin (12-3). The junior Auburn pitcher allowed six hits and two runs but got the win, thanks in part to Alyssa Rivera’s insurance solo home run in the bottom of the 6th.

“I worked through it,” Martin said. “My defense was behind me, my offense was obviously behind me. They scored three big runs when I was pitching. So, I’ve got to look at the bright side of that.”

Auburn’s six runs doubled its season-high in SEC play. The Tigers hope that it’ll be a timely boost of momentum heading into next weekend, when they hit the road to face a dangerous Ole Miss team.

“It was important for us to win all three games,” Dean said. “It wasn’t about winning one game, it wasn’t about winning to win two games. Our mission was to win all three.”

Auburn softball

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Auburn designated player Tannon Snow launched a walk-off home run Saturday night. (Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics)

 

Game 2 (Saturday): Auburn 1, Kentucky 0 (12)

Tannon Snow was tired of seeing Kaylee Carlson pitch flawless inning after flawless inning with no end in sight.

So in the bottom of the 12th inning — in the 84th at-bat of the game — the Auburn designated player blasted a 2-2 pitch off Kentucky’s Autumn Humes over the wall in left field for a 1-0 win.

“It felt really good off my bat,” Snow said. “That was awesome. Kaylee was pitching her butt off this entire game. We came in and said, ‘This is for her.’ She’s given everything, so that was all for her.”

Carlson pitched 12 innings Saturday night in the hardest-fought win of her career. She allowed just five hits and one walk, throwing just 130 pitches in a marathon win over Humes.

“Your body gets tired, but when you get in there, adrenaline just takes over,” Carlson said. “You really don’t notice your body unless you’re in real pain. I felt good.”

Carlson came close to a win close to regulation on two different occasions.

In both the 6th and 7th innings, Auburn had the would-be winning run on third base with nobody out. Both times, the Tigers couldn’t bring the difference-maker home.

Auburn softball
Auburn pitcher Kaylee Carlson twirled a marathon gem Saturday. (Cat Wofford/Auburn Athletics)

Still, Carlson kept pitching nearly flawless softball late into the night.

“That was a monster performance,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said. “She battled. … Not just the pitching, but can you imagine the emotions of standing in here with bases loaded twice, knowing you’re going to win the ball game, and you don’t? And then you’ve got to go out and pitch six more innings. That’s tough.”

Carlson did her job, aided by a defense that didn’t commit a single error and kept several long hits from turning into extra bases for Kentucky.

Then Snow came to the plate in the 12th and finally got the pitch she wanted — and the postgame shower that she probably didn’t:

“She crushed it,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said. “She crushed it. She’d been hitting hard ground balls the whole night, and then finally the kid elevated one that was in her zone. And she just crushed it.”

With the win, Auburn now has four SEC wins in a row after losing its first four. The Tigers, who have gutted out several close games in recent weeks, will go for the sweep Sunday.

“We’ve just got to fight,” Dean said. “We’ve just got to keep fighting. It’s like I tell them — our effort has to be greater than our opponents. And what are we willing to do that they’re not willing to do? That’s really what it comes down to.”

Game 1 (Friday): Auburn 3, Kentucky 1

For someone breaking an Auburn softball single-season record with 20 games before the postseason, it still took Victoria Draper a while to make history.

Draper stole her 34th base of the season Friday night, setting a new program record in a 3-1 victory for Auburn. Draper’s historic steal came in the midst of a 16-pitch, 2-out at-bat for second baseman Casey McCrackin, who hit a single up the middle to give the Tigers a crucial third run in the bottom of the 5th.

“I was just thinking, ‘I need McCrackin not to foul off,” said Draper, who had to come back to first several times in the long at-bat. “But she had a great at-bat. I stole it three times, I think. I was getting tired.”

Draper gave Auburn its second run of the game before her record-breaking steal by driving in left fielder Morgan Podany from second base with a 2-out hit of her own. Auburn catcher Courtney Shea got the scoring going for the Tigers in the 4th with a solo home run to center field.

“We hit the ball well late,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said. “[Kentucky pitcher Grace Baalman], her timing — she looked like she was going to throw the ball 100 miles per hour with those long legs. That had our timing off in the beginning. Then we settled in.”

Junior pitcher Makayla Martin improved to 11-3 on the season with a strong performance. She didn’t allow Kentucky’s only run until the top of the 7th. Senior ace Kaylee Carlson finished the game with a save, her second of the season.

Martin and Carlson were backed up by excellent defense, along with the timely hitting. Freshman shortstop Makenna Dowell, playing for the injured Taylon Snow, pulled off a silky glove flip to McCrackin for a double play in the 6th. Third baseman Kendall Veach had several tough putouts in the victory.

“It was very nice, very clean,” McCrackin said. “Everything was done well. [Veach] always makes those plays. She’s just so good at third. … And we practice [the double play with Dowell] every day.”

But in the complete team effort, Draper got the biggest recognition in the end with her clutch hitting and record-breaking base-running.

“A lot of times, when you get a record, you have to work really hard to get it,” Dean said. “She’s worked really hard. She’s been a great teammate to these young ladies. She plays through pain every day, and she’s amazing to coach.”

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The post Auburn softball’s bats come alive Sunday to complete sweep of Kentucky appeared first on SEC Country.

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