Auburn softball sweeps Aggies to secure spot in SEC tourney
From the Auburn University Athletics Department:
AUBURN, Ala. – The No. 22/22 Auburn softball team made quick work of the No. 23/23 Texas A&M Aggies on Sunday, winning in five innings, 9-1, to not only secure the sweep, but to also secure its berth in the SEC Tournament field on Senior Day.
Auburn got another great outing in the circle from sophomore Marcy Harper, who won her 17th game of the year, while junior Branndi Melero blasted two home runs in the game, totaling five RBIs. After the game, seniors Hilary Mavromat, Kristyn Richards and Maris Medina were honored as the departing seniors in their final home game at Jane B. Moore field.
"We talked about how to play going back to August," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "This is the first time we've been able to do it. We've been able to beat a good Texas A&M club three times with great athletes. They never stopped competing, they never stopped trying. They go out there and play their hearts out. That speaks volumes for what we were able to do."
Melero's performance on Sunday was only a taste of what she had done all weekend against Texas A&M. In all three games combined, Melero was 7-for-12 (.583) with three home runs, two on Sunday and eight RBI. She is now tied for the team-lead in home runs (15) with freshman Kasey Cooper and puts her only two home runs away from tying the single-season school record for home runs in a season. Her 74 RBI continues to also lead the team and the conference. Melero came out of Sunday's game 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI. The RBI and home runs both tie a career-high.
"Branndi has done it all year long," Myers said. "She's been very consistent with it. We've just got to keep her hitting in our lineup, seeing the ball and swinging the bat because when she's locked in she is phenomenal. It's difficult to get her out and she can hurt you in so many ways. She's been a big part of the reason for our success."
Defensively, Harper has started playing her best softball in the circle, throwing complete games in three of her last four starts. With wins over Alabama last week and two against Texas A&M this week, Harper has accumulated a 3.74 ERA with 10 complete games and 118 strikeouts.
"Marcy got the ball today because she pitched so dog-gone good yesterday," Myers said. "She backed it up. It was her last inning in the fifth, she was only going to go five. It's been a long time since she pitched back-to-back days. She had two phenomenal days, pitched very well the first game and came in to finish this one off. We're getting good pitching in the circle and that's a good thing. If we can keep that up we're looking to good things in the future."
The series sweep of Texas A&M on Sunday was Auburn's first conference series sweep of the year and first conference series sweep since 2012. Overall, Auburn is now 38-14-1 on the year and 10-11 in SEC play.
The Tigers got on the board early Sunday as Melero hit her first home run of the game in the first inning after Cooper reached on a one-out walk. The long ball put Auburn up 2-0 in the early going.
The Orange and Blue bats continued to roll into the second inning as sophomore Kelsey Bogaards led off the inning with a bunt single. She was later replaced at first by Tiffany Howard, who reached on a fielder's choice. Back to the top of the lineup, sophomore Emily Carosone notched her first hit of the game, a single to advance Howard to third. In the next at-bat, Cooper delivered with her eighth double of the year, plating Howard to make it 3-0.
Coming to the plate for only the second time in the game, Melero found herself in good position to add to her RBI total with two runners on in the second. On a 3-1 count, Melero pummeled one into deep right field, clearing the bases to push Auburn ahead even further at 6-0.
The Tigers inched closer to that run-rule limit as they scored their seventh run of the game in the bottom of the third after Howard laced her second extra base-hit of the year to deep left-center field, setting the table for Carosone. Once again, with runners in scoring position, Auburn came through as Carosone singled to left-center, giving the speedy Howard plenty of time to score and make it a 7-0 advantage.
Carosone finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI as she homered later in the game for the seventh time this year. The three hits were also a season-high for her.
Texas A&M tried to mount a comeback after getting a solo home run from Cassie Tysarczyk in the fourth, but the amount of runs was too much as Auburn came away the 9-1 victors.
"We had 12 hits in the game, some good at bats phenomenal pitching and we played very good defense," Myers said. "If we can continue that we're going to be successful. We have to do well in the circle, play well behind defensively and we had that all weekend long. If that's a good indication of what's about to come we've talked about playing our best softball at the end and well we're getting better at the end."
Auburn goes on the road for its final series of the year as it will go to Columbia, S.C. to face the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina for a three-game set. The series is slated to start on Friday, May 2 at 6 p.m.