By Charles Goldberg
STARKVILLE, Miss. — The defending Southeastern Conference Tournament champions put in a bid to win that title again Friday, doing it against their biggest rival.
No. 8 Auburn beat No. 4 Alabama 6-4 in a quarterfinal softball game at Nusz Park on the Mississippi State campus to move to a semifinal game against No. 1 Florida at 4 p.m. Friday.
Did somebody say Auburn-Alabama? '
"It's nice to have our own little Iron Bowl in the SEC Tournament," said Auburn's Emily Carosone.
The win also sent a message to the NCAA Selection Committee that the Tigers should be considered for one the precious eight Super Regional sites.
''I think we're Top 8 team, but, then again, I'm an old fat guy,'' joked Auburn coach Clint Myers.
The Auburn-Florida game, and the semifinal game between LSU and Tennessee, will play for the title Saturday. Auburn improved to 47-5. Alabama fell to 46-12,
Carosone, already Auburn's all-time hit record, tied the school's run record of 261. Kasey Cooper walked four times against Alabama, tying a school record.
Auburn beat Alabama in the SEC Tournament last year, too. The two didn't play each other during the regular season this year. Fate, and seeding, dictated a match here.
Auburn started quickly, scoring four runs in the first thanks to an 2-run double from Carlee Wallace, a Jade Rhodes RBI groundout and an Alabama error.
Alabama cut it to 4-1 in the top of the second, but Auburn got that run back on a Rhodes RBI single. The Tigers traded runs again in the fourth. Alabama scored on a Chandler Dare double. Auburn answered with a Carosone RBI single to make it 6-2 after four innings.
The game against Florida awaited, but Auburn had already cleared an important hurdle.
"A doubleheader doesn't mean anything until we win the first game," Carosone said,
Makayla Martin pitched the final 3 2/3 innings to improve to 12-3.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine