Auburn and Alabama Stay Alive in Women’s College World Series


“Auburn and Alabama Stay Alive in Women's College World Series” Written By Bill Plummer

OKLAHOMA CITY — The field of eight teams in the 34th annual Women's College World Series was reduced to six with the elimination of Tennessee and Oregon on Elimination Saturday afternoon with the losing team in each case not taking advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position before 9,094 people at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

Tennessee lost to SEC rival Auburn, 4-2, with the Lady Vols stranding nine base runners to seven for Auburn, which was out-hit seven to nine. Tennessee became the first team eliminated from the original Elite Eight and finished the season 47-17 in its seventh appearance in the WCWS.

Auburn, making its debut in the WCWS under former ASU coach Clint Myers, improved to 55-10 and advanced to play UCLA later Saturday evening in another elimination game.

Auburn jumped out early, taking a 4-0 lead with all of the runs coming in the third inning on four hits with Haley Fagan's infield slow roller to third scoring the first run followed by a two-run double by catcher Carlee Wallace and an RBI single by Jade Rhodes. All of the runs came off losing pitcher Erin Gabriel (17-8) who went two and two-third innings, allowing six hits and the four runs while striking out one and walking two.

Nursing the 4-0 lead, Tennessee cut the deficit to the final margin with a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth innings. The Lady Vols' Shaliyah Geathers doubled home Rainey Gaffin with the run in the fourth inning and Cheyanne Tarango, who replaced Gabriel and hurled the last four and one-third innings, singled home Meghan Gregg in the fifth inning. Tarango gave up a hit and a walk.

But the Lady Vols should have had more than a single run in the fifth as they left three runners on and had four hits. The Lady Vols missed out on a golden opportunity in the second inning when Gaffin doubled with one out and Geathers followed with a single before Tory Lewis also singled. But Lewis was doubled off first base when Auburn shortstop Fagan caught a liner hit by Gregg and threw to first to complete the double play, thus ending the threat.

The Lady Vols refused to quit, however, loading the bases and scoring another run in the bottom of the fifth to pull to within to 4-2. Gregg reached on an error by the pitcher and Lexi Overstreet singled to right field to open the inning. After a double play on a flyout to right hit by Megan Geer with Overstreet getting picked off at first, catcher Aldrete hit a two-out single to center field. McSwain was hit by a pitch to load the bases and pinch hitter Tarango came through with an RBI single through the right side to score the run.

The Lady Vols went down in order in the sixth and got a runner on in the seventh against Auburn relief hurler Rachael Walters, but the missed opportunities earlier sealed their fate and ended the season.Walters fanned five of the seven batters she faced.

Walters said her forte was throwing to lefties. “So my curveball works to my advantage to them. Coming today Corey (Myers) told me you need to have your curve ball working and your rise ball working on the inside. So that's all I focused on in the bullpen. I think I am comfortable coming in as a closer and kind of helping us out of tough situations now, especially in the end of the season. That's what I like to do. That's what I'm good at. And I think my teammates see that as well.”

Lexi Davis (25-2) started and hurled four and two-third innings before Walters finished the game, striking out five batters including three batters in the seventh inning. She got Overstreet to open the inning before Geer got aboard on an error and Walters fanned Aldrete and Scarlet McSwain to end the game.

In the Oregon-Alabama game, which Alabama won 2-1, the Crimson Tide scored twice in the second inning on a two-run single by Chandler Dare to jump out to the lead before the Ducks reduced the game to its final margin with a run in the third inning on Janie Takeda's single off the outstretched glove of Alabama second baseman Demi Turner. The hit scored Lauren Lindvall who had walked with one out and was sacrificed to second before lead-off hitter Takeda hit her first of two singles.

In the fourth the Ducks had one of their best opportunities to score when Lilly singled to open the inning. She was sacrificed to second before winning pitcher Alexis Osorio got a strikeout followed by a walk to Geri Ann Glasco. Osorio then hit Koral Costa with a pitch to load the bases, but Osorio got Lauren Lindvall to ground out to end the threat.

Osorio, who has an outstanding rise ball, threw 111 pitches in getting her 22nd win of the season against nine losses,hurling a three-hitter. In the last two innings, she fanned five of the six batters she faced and finished with nine strikeouts and two walks.

Oregon coach Mike White said his Ducks had game plan against Osorio.”We had a game plan. And unfortunately we just didn't have the discipline at the plate. And we expanded the strike zone. I'am not sure if that was because of the umpire's strike zone. I think it was pretty inconsistent. And that's all I'll say on that. And kind of made it a little tough for us. Obviously we can't blame that person for that. That happens. We've got to be better than that. But we still chased some balls out of the strike zone, which is not going to do well against any pitcher the level of (Alexis) Osorio.”

Losing pitcher Cheridan Hawkins also allowed three hits, striking out seven and walking three to finish the year 30-5. She hurled 105 pitches.The Ducks concluded the year 51-8 in becoming the second team eliminated from the Elite Eight. Alabama (48-14) advanced to play LSU in another elimination game this evening at 8:30.

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Bill Plummer Bill Plummer A graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than four decades. For 30years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian. In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show Manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2009, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2014, ” A Series of Their Own. The History of the Women's College World Series.” He has been elected to five halls of fame, including the ASA National. In 1996, he served as the Information Manager for the debut of softball in the Olympics.

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