April 16, 2014
Auburn's Morgan Estell comes home after her 3-run homer against Alabama (Zach Bland photo)
By Charles Goldberg
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Clint Myers was smiling about his first experience in the Auburn-Alabama rivalry. Why not? His team snapped a losing streak. His team beat its biggest rival. His team beat a Top 10 team.
Auburn 6, Alabama 2 was a good night for the Tigers' coach.
"It was kind of fun. The people. The environment. To come out and beat them says a statement to the girls, 'hey, we can play,'" Myers said after the Wednesday night win at Lagoon Park.
It wasn't Myers' first time against Alabama. He faced them in the College World Series when he was at Arizona State. But it was the first time in the heat of the biggest rivalry around.
Auburn got early home runs from Kasey Cooper and Morgan Estell and rode the four-hit pitching of Marcy Harper in the win. No. 23 Auburn snapped a most frustrating seven-game losing streak and improved to 32-12-1. No. 6 Alabama fell to 37-8.
It's the only regular-season meeting between the schools, and it didn't count in the SEC standings. Auburn didn't care. The Tigers will take the home runs, the pitching, the win.
Auburn led 5-0 after three innings, thanks to a 2-run homer from Cooper and a 3-run blast from Estell. Emily Carosone added a run in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
Cooper said the early lead "settled us down. We relaxed. That was one of the goals this week: Get ahead early; do something different. That's what we did."
It was Cooper's 12thhomer of the season.
"Coaches have been working with me all week about quality at-bats and staying direct to the ball, and just relax, stop thinking and just have fun," Cooper said. "My coaches and teammates have been behind me the whole time. It's just a great experience."
Auburn's quick lead helped turn the losing streak.
"With the run of luck we've had in the past getting out with that early lead was huge," Myers said. "It gave Marcy a little cushion to go out there. She just pitched phenomenal."
Harper improved to 15-2, allowing only a home run, an RBI double and a couple of singles.
"She went out there and just pitched her heart out," Myers said. "She made the pitches. Everything was close in the zone."
Harper said the home runs by Cooper and Estell made it easy.
"It was a lot of pressure off," she said. "'OK, I can do this. They've got my back. They're going to score runs for me.'"
Auburn returns to SEC play at Georgia on Friday. The Tigers will take a most happy win with them.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine