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'It felt amazing' - Kendall Veach, Kaylee Carlson lead Auburn in SEC Tournament win
Teammates wait at home plate to greet Kendall Veach after her home run in Auburn's 2-0 SEC Tournament win over Kentucky.
May 11, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Forty-five times this season, Auburn has recorded two outs on one pitch, none more significant than the 3-6-3 double play the Tigers turned in Thursday's 2-0 win over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals.

In a scoreless sixth inning, with runners on first and second and one away, Auburn pitcher Kaylee Carlson faced Wildcats slugger Abbey Cheek, who belted two home runs Wednesday in UK's first-round victory over South Carolina.

A meeting at the mound ensued.

"We just told Kaylee, `Get the ball on the ground and we'll make it happen for you," said first baseman Kendall Veach, who fielded a sharply hit one-hopper, fired to shortstop Haley Fagan covering second, who threw back to Veach at first to end the inning. "Kudos to Kaylee for making that pitch."

"That was exactly our plan," Carlson said. "We had a little huddle and that's what we talked about. We were trying to get the double play. We did a great job and Kendall executed that very well."

Veach was just getting warmed up. In the bottom of the sixth, Alyssa Rivera drew a two-out walk. Veach followed with a 2-run home run to right center, her 12th of the season.

"I was 0-2 and I was trying to fight. I wanted to get the barrel right on the ball, so that's what I did," said Veach, who says she knew on contact that her hit would clear the wall. "It felt amazing. I was really happy to do that for Kaylee."

Backed by error-free defense, Carlson threw a six-hit shutout, her sixth, earning her SEC-leading 26th win of the season.

"That was definitely key," said Carlson, who lowered her ERA to 1.13. "They did a great job and they made great plays. I don't strike a lot of people out so I need them to make the plays.

 

 

"I honestly think I pitch better when the game is tighter because I know that I have to be more focused. I know that sooner or later in the game they're going to find ways to score runs. As long as I can keep them in it, then they're going to pull through for me."

Auburn (46-9) needs two more victories to become the first team to win a third straight SEC Tournament title. The Tigers take on LSU Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT in the semifinals.

"The tournament is kind of our thing," Carlson said. "The three-peat has never been done, so that's definitely our goal for this weekend."

"To win it a third time," said Auburn coach Clint Myers, "is something the girls really want to do. We've been getting good pitching. We've got to get ready for the regionals, that's the key thing. This team is resilient, a different hero every night. They just figure out ways to win."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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