Whitney Jordan, center, celebrates Auburn's victory with Branndi Melero, left, and Kasey Cooper
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Coach Clint Myers needed another hero to put Auburn on the brink of making its first College World Series, and Whitney Jordan was up to the task.
Jordan, she of two RBIs all season, hit a ball to second that was good enough to allow the winning run to score to finish off one of the wildest games you'll ever see, sending Auburn past Louisiana-Lafayette 12-11 in extra innings Friday for a Super Regional win. The Tigers are now within a victory of making it to the World Series.
On a team of big hitters, Jordan's bounder to second did the trick.
"A different hero,"Myers said. "That little freshman went out there and got the big ground ball for us. It is a team, and all 20 of them are ready for their number to be called."
Auburn can punch its ticket to the College World Series in Oklahoma City if it wins Saturday's 11 a.m. game at Jane B. Moore Field. If the Tigers lose, they'll get a second chance in a winner-take-all game at 2.
Friday was the craziest of games. UL-Lafayette walked 16. Auburn left 20 on bases. The Ragin' Cajuns hit four home runs. The Tigers hit two. UL-Lafayette led by five in the bottom of the seventh, needing just three outs to win. The Tigers tied it up on just one hit.
UL-Lafayette scored one in the eighth. Auburn scored two for the win.
Jade Rhodes established the single-season school record for homers with 19. Whitney Jordan's hopper to second won it when Haley Fagan slid in just ahead of a throw to the plate.
"I think it shows our character and we're never defeated," said second baseman Emily Carosone. "We scored most of those runs with two outs in the seventh inning, and that just shows we don't give up."
"I can say," said Myers, "that was probably the best four-game ballgame you ever watched."
Auburn improved to a school-record 53-9. UL-Lafayette fell to 42-11.
You needed a line score to appreciate Auburn's comeback. Auburn trailed 4-1 in the second, 7-2 in the fourth, 8-5 with an inning to go. UL-Lafayette scored two in the top of the seventh and seemed to be sitting pretty with a 10-5 lead.
The Auburn fans stayed, hoping for the best.
"They did not leave. They did not leave," Myers said.
They were treated to the Ragin Cajuns walking in five in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. UL-Lafayette scored one in the eighth. But Morgan Estell tied it with an RBI double.
The Auburn coaching staff turned to Jordan. Myers said the conversation went like this:
"'Can you give us a groundball?'
"'I can get you a groundball.'
"By golly, she went up there and she did it."
The top of Auburn's lineup -- Carosone, Tiffany Howard and Kasey Cooper -- combined to drive in seven runs. Carosone had three of those. Howard, Cooper and Rhodes drove in two each. Rhodes and Carosone hit homers. Lexie Elkins hit her 32nd homer of the season for UL-Lafayette. Kelsey Vincent hit two, jumping her total to 18.
But Auburn was playing it cool throughout.
"This is uncharted waters for them. That's one of the things we keep trying to stress to them: It's nothing more than just a softball game, it's just like in August when we started. It's 'a' softball game," Myers said.
The next softball game fits that bill as well, except if Auburn wins, it will head to the College World Series. The Tigers played their way to this moment.
"It goes back to everything we've been talking about, with the resiliency," Myers said. "This team figures out ways to win."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine