Auburn celebrates its win and first trip to the College World Series
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Clint Myers had coached like a jillion games and won national titles before he arrived at Auburn with the dream of taking the Tigers to the biggest show of all.
"At that time," he chuckled, "it was just a fat, old gray-haired guy standing around: 'We're going to the College World Series.'"
His players believed, and now Auburn is headed to where Myers said they'd go. The Tigers are in the softball College World Series in Oklahoma City for the first time in school history, thanks to a 6-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in the Super Regional at Jane B. Moore Field on Saturday.
"Every year," Myers said "we'll believe we're going to Oklahoma City."
Kasey Cooper provided a sixth-inning cushion with a 3-run homer and Lexi Davis won her 24th game as Auburn won the Super Regional two games to none. The Tigers will open World Series play Thursday against the winner of the Super Regional involving LSU and Arizona, a regional that will be decided Sunday. LSU beat Arizona 8-0 Saturday.
Auburn is already in the big show, and outfielder Morgan Estell seemed to speak for her teammates as the final out was made Saturday.
"My first thought was, 'Who am I'm going to hug first?'"
All of them seemed to be the answer.
Myers, who won two World Series at Arizona State before coming to Auburn two years ago, saw his team add to its record-breaking season Saturday, now with a 54-9 record. The SEC Tournament champs also added a Regional and Super Regional title to the trophy case in a week's time.
Of course, there's room for one more.
"It's not a goal to get to the College World Series. It's an expectation," he said, adding this year's team will be the "starting point for something very good here at Auburn."
Auburn had battled through a long, offensive-minded Friday, beating the Ragin' Cajuns 12-11, and then only after scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to force the extra innings. The Tigers got early runs Saturday on a Branndi Melero's RBI single and a Jenna Abbott groundout. Auburn trailed 2-1 after three innings before taking a 3-2 lead after five. Auburn made things easier on itself in the sixth by scoring a run on a wild pitch before Cooper hit her 3-run homer.
All the while, Davis was pitching, backed up by four double plays.
"We told Lexi if you throw the ball, we'll get you out of this," Cooper said.
Myers said she deserved the win.
"It was an art. It was a portrait she was painting out there," he said. "She made the pitches when she had to make the pitches. The defense made the plays, but if she doesn't put the ball where she wants it, then we don't get them to hit it where they are.
"We had great pitching today, we played great defense and we got timely hitting. It was nothing new."
And then Myers asked a question in which he knew the answer.
"She did a great job, but 'Lex, didn't you expect to?'
"That's what we're trying to get across to them: They are great players and they are capable of great things. The key to that is if you say it, you've got to go out and do it, and today, she clearly did it. She did a great job."
Auburn players help roll the tree at softball's Jane B. Moore Field after winning spot in College World Series pic.twitter.com/sGOzDgQBxc
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Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine