By Charles Goldberg
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Madi Gipson and Auburn were not going to be denied, not this time, not with a trip to softball's College World Series finals on the line.
So when Gipson hit a single that got away from the left fielder, she kept motoring around first, around second and all the way to third.
A minute or so later, pinch-runner Morgan Podany scored on a play at the plate and Auburn beat Florida State 8-7 Sunday in eight innings in a World Series thriller.
Now, the best-of-three championship round begins at 7 p.m. Monday against Oklahoma, which beat LSU 7-3 in Sunday's late game. The finals, which will feature single games Monday, Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday, were set up when Gipson didn't stop running.
"I wasn't going to stop for anything," Gipson said. "Coach earlier in the year stopped me on a triple and I wasn't stopping this time."
"I wasn't stopping her," said Auburn coach Clint Myers, "because she was looking fast."
Auburn improved to 57-10 overall -- the most wins in school history -- and 3-0 in the College World Series. The Tigers had to reach deep Sunday to do it.
Florida State scored three runs in the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. Gipson and Auburn won it an inning later.
Carlee Wallace and Jade Rhodes each hit 3-run homers and Kasey Cooper added a solo shot to push Auburn to a 7-4 lead heading to the seventh. Florida State tied it on a Cali Harrod 3-run homer to force extra innings.
"It wasn't as pretty as we would have liked, it wasn't as easy as we would have liked, but I think you saw the fight, I think you saw the heart," Myers said.
And Myers saw the conviction.
"Just trust the people who are out there," Myers said.
Myers, then in his second year at Auburn, took the Tigers to their first World Series appearance last season. In Year Three, he has Auburn two victories from winning it all.
"Having the opportunity to play for a national championship is something that we have talked about since we've got there," Myers said. "It's them buying in into the hard work and the commitment of practice, weight room and everything else."
-- NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) June 6, 2016
Auburn had the homers, all right, but also two fine defensive plays. The first by Cooper when she bare-handed a bouncer and threw a runner out at first. The second was a softball highlight special with Victoria Draper making a running diving catch that surely saved at least one run.
"That's what Auburn softball is," Cooper said. "Playing Auburn softball, we expect to make the routine plays and the great plays will come. That's what our coaches live by."
It was Wallace who gave Auburn the early lead, breaking out on the big stage.
"Basically, I had had enough," Wallace said. "It was a great team win yesterday...but personally, being real with myself, that might have been one of the worst offensive days I have had in awhile. I kind of just regrouped.
"This time of the year, I really don't have much of a choice."
This time of the year, Auburn is in the College World Series.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
Auburn talks about dramatic 8-7 win over FSU in College World Series pic.twitter.com/MVMhXgGKva
-- Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) June 6, 2016