Auburn celebrates in NCAA Regional at Jane B. Moore Field
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn's Clint Myers celebrated his 1,000th collegiate softball victory Friday night likely stressing the same things he did after his first win way back at Central Arizona Junior College.
Good defense and the relief pitching of Lexi Davis carried the night as Auburn beat Tennessee Tech 4-1 in an NCAA Regional opener at Jane B. Moore Field that carried the Tigers to a second-round game against South Alabama at noon Saturday.Oh, Myers also has 406 wins as a baseball coach, too.
Fridaywas a milestone win for Myers, it was the 50th win of the season for Auburn, and it was milestone game for outfielder Morgan Estell, who set the school career doubles record at a most-opportune time. Her hit in the fourth inning tied the game to set the stage for Auburn to take the lead moments later on a Haley Fagan sacrifice fly.
It was Estell's 59th career double.
"She basically threw me the same sequence the last at-bat, so I was ready for it," Estell said.
Tennessee Tech pitcher Danielle Liberatore didn't allow a hit through the first three innings, but Auburn caught up to her in the fourth, as did her seven walks.
Rachael Walters started for Auburn and allowed a run in three-and-a-third innings. Davis came in and held Tennessee Tech hitless the rest of the way to improve to 22-2 on the season.
"I thought Rachael and Lexi did an outstanding job of pitching," Myers said.
"With this defense, we pitch to contact and let them hit it on the ground and this defense has been outstanding all year long."
Tennessee Tech was limited to four hits. So was Auburn.
"We've got to be a little better at the plate, but this is a good team," Myers aid. "And we've said all along good teams figure out a way to win."
Estell's double was a high bouncer over first base that scored Branndi Melero. Fagan's sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Victoria Draper, which was enough to pass Tennessee Tech, which took a third-inning lead on a Kelly Kennedy homer.
Auburn made it 4-1 in the fifth on an Estell bases-loaded walk and a Kasey Cooper RBI single.
The Tigers, now 50-9, will meet South Alabama, 39-11, at noon.
"They're a good ball club," Myers said. "They won their conference. They beat Louisiana-Lafayette, who's hosting a regional right now.
"It's going to be a fun game."
Saturday's elimination game between Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech is 2:30 p.m. The loser of Auburn-South Alabama will play the winner of Chattanooga-Tennessee Tech at 5 p.m.
Sunday's first game is at noon. A second game, if it is necessary, will follow that.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine