Below my video with reaction from this game is a brief rundown of one of the most unusual wins I’ve ever seen. But watch the video first, please.
This is one time a short video report can only tell part of the story. I have to be honest – I’ve never seen a softball (or baseball) game quite like Auburn University’s come from behind win over Louisiana-Lafayette in game one of their best-of-three NCAA softball Super Regional at Auburn, Alabama. The Tigers, ranked 4th in the nation and enjoying their first trip to the second round of the post-season in school history, appeared to have their hands full against perennial tourney contender, the 11th ranked Ragin’ Cajuns, who worked out of bases loaded jams in each of the first four innings.
In fact, Louisiana was cruising against the Tigers heading into the final frame with a 10-5 lead, despite Tigers home runs from Jade Rhodes (19) and Emily Carsone (18), partially because the RCs had four long balls of their own, including a mind-numbing NCAA record 32nd from Lexie Elkins.
But weird stuff happened. The Tigers got a bunch of walks with the bases loaded. A bunch. They scored five times in the seventh with five, count ’em, five bases load walks. One of them – with slugger Carson at the plate facing a pitching change despite a 2-0 count. The new pitcher, Christina Hamilton, entered the game directly form the dugout, having not warmed up for several innings. After her allowed eight pitches, she took two more to the third baseman, while the game waited to resume from a television timeout. The Tigers made sure the umps knew about the transgression, two balls were applied, and Carosone got the easiest RBI of her career.
In the 8th – after falling behind again in the top half – it wasn’t Auburn’s sluggers who did the damage. It was senior center fielder Morgan Estell’s RBI double that tied it, and freshman pinch hitter Whitney Jordan’s infield single that plated the game winner. It was the fourth time this season Auburn rallied from four or more runs down to win a game.
The Tigers (53-9) and Ragin’ Cajuns (42-11) finish their series starting at 11:00 am Saturday morning. I’ll have a recap of the series – and word on which of these teams will advance to the WCWS – on the blog tomorrow.