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Auburn wins, advances to regional championship game
May 21, 2016

Auburn's Kaylee Carlson pitches Auburn to Sunday's regional championship round
Auburn's Kaylee Carlson pitches Auburn to Sunday's regional championship round

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Team MVP Emily Carosone was at the plate with a full count and an RBI opportunity and  wait a minute here  did she see what she thought she saw? Did Auburn coach Clint Myers signal to take the next pitch?

She needed a timeout to make sure she didn't have her wires crossed.

"I thought he had given me the take sign. I said, 'Coach, I have 3-2.'"

Carosone worked things out on her full-count pitch, ripped a double to the wall for Auburn's first two runs and helped lead the Tigers to a 6-1 win over USC Upstate in an NCAA softball regional game that sent the home team to Sunday's championship round.

What went on in the Myers-Carosone chat?

"I told her," Myers deadpanned, "to hit a double."

Auburn will play at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against Jakcsonville State, which beat Oregon State 5-4 in 14 innings and then Upstate 3-2 in back-to-back elimination games Saturday. Auburn can win this regional with a win in Sunday's scheduled game. If the Tigers lose that one, they'll immediately play a winner-take-all game. Auburn will host next weekend's Super Regional if it wins Sunday.

Auburn beat Jacksonville State 2-1 in its regional opener Friday.

Auburn improved to 51-9, thanks, in part, to three wins on the way to the Southeastern Conference Tournament title last week and two wins in this regional this weekend.

Kaylee Carlson was in control, allowing three hits in improving to 16-1 in going the distance. Auburn has allowed just six hits, one earned run and struck out 13 in 14 innings in the regional.

Carosone said Auburn's deep pitching of Carlson, Makayla Martin, Marcy Harper, Rachael Walters and Lexi Davis has made the difference throughout.

"I really do think we feed off of our pitching," Carosone said. "I think years before, we were considered a hitting team. I think we're a pitching team this year because of the depth that we have with our pitching. We've got Kaylee and we've got Makayla and we can shut people out. And we still got Marcy, Rachael and Lexi."

Auburn benefitted from Upstate's wildness that included nine walks and the 82nd hit by pitch in Carosone's career. Auburn led 2-0 on Carosone's hit in the second, and 4-1 in the fourth after bases-loaded walks to Kasey Cooper and Carlee Wallace. Haley Fagan, who missed the regular season after knee surgery, drove in her first run of the year in the seventh, followed by an RBI groundout by Whitney Jordan.

"I thought the seventh inning was the best example of Auburn softball," Myers said. "Doubled, moved her over, and scored on a ground ball. We're moving in the right direction. Last year, the score of this game was 1-0. Haley hits a home run against South Alabama and we win 1-0, so, we got five more runs today. And again, we're taking advantage of the opposition's mistakes. One more win, that's what we're after."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:

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