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Auburn softball’s record-breaking season ends just short of the championship

The Auburn Tigers celebrate after their incredible Game 2 victory
The Auburn Tigers celebrate after their incredible Game 2 victory

The 2016 season for the Auburn softball team was one for the record books. Their first trip to the Women’s College World Series was full of amazing comebacks and one of the best catches in softball history. Unfortunately the Tigers fell just short of the championship, falling to the University of Oklahoma last night in the final game of the World Series.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Tigers ended their season with a new program record of 58 wins, an SEC Tournament championship, and the team’s first trip to the Women’s College World Series.

“I’m very proud of these young ladies that play softball at Auburn University,” said Auburn head coach Clint Myers. “They gave their heart, their soul. They gave their commitment, they battled, they were relentless. They lost to an outstanding Oklahoma team. Well-coached, great athletes.”

Auburn’s regular season featured a number of incredible plays and victories, and had huge wins against Mississippi State, Georgia, Florida, and Texas A&M. The Tigers ruled the SEC Tournament, including a 6-4 victory in the Iron Bowl of softball against Alabama.

After winning their second SEC Tournament in a row, Auburn went into the World Series ready for the challenge. After defeating UCLA 10-3 in their opening game, the Tigers faced off against SEC rival Georgia. The Bulldogs had just knocked off No. 1 seed Florida and took a 3-1 lead over Auburn going into the seventh inning. But the Tigers responded with two RBIs from Kasey Cooper and Emily Carosone and a go-ahead run by Jade Rhodes, putting Auburn ahead 4-3. After beating Georgia, the Tigers edged out Florida State in the semifinals.

Then came the wild championship series against Oklahoma. The Sooners won the first game 3-2, but Auburn was not going down without a fight. Game 2 of the series is already being called one of the greatest games in WCWS history. The Tigers came back from a 7-run deficit to tie the game in the fourth inning. Then Auburn senior Tiffany Howard robbed Oklahoma’s Shay Knighten of a home run with a spectacular catch over the left field wall.

At the bottom of the eighth, Auburn senior Emily Carosone blasted off a grand slam to give Auburn an 11-7 win. The Tigers’ Game 2 victory ended Oklahoma’s 31-game win streak and forced a championship-deciding Game 3.

Unfortunately, Game 3 did not go as well for Auburn. Oklahoma went up 2-0 in the first inning and Auburn was never able to get back on top. The Sooners walked away with their third national championship, but the Tigers returned to the Plains with a new sense of determination. Even though they lost the championship, the team can relish this year’s victories and fight to go all the way in 2017.

“I’m so proud of us for what we did,” Howard said. “And I guarantee you they’re going to be back next year to finish it off.”

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