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Myers Wins 1500th, Auburn Drops Series to Florida

By on March 29th, 2017 in News, Other Sports 14 Comments »
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photo: Zach Bland/Auburn athletics

It took eight days and three games, but Auburn head softball coach Clint Myers accomplished what few have done. He notched his 1,500th win, and he did it the hardest way possible. Myers’ club got him that milestone last weekend with a road win over Florida, the number-one team in college softball.

It wasn’t easy, and Auburn had to fight off a Gators sweep threat. In the end, Kaylee Carlson pitched a shutout, and Kendall Veach’s solo shot in the second proved to be the game winner.

Just how did the weekend go for the Tigers? 

The series kicked off in a Saturday night prime-time matchup between the top-ranked Gators and the sixth-ranked Tigers. Florida benefited from a blown call at home plate in a bizarre sequence of events. Auburn catcher Carlee Wallace tagged Florida’s Ocasio short of home plate after a run-scoring infield single. The home plate umpire immediately called Ocasio out after the tag, but a protest by Florida coach Tim Walton caused the home plate umpire to consult with and ultimately defer to the 3rd base umpire. The latter ruled that Wallace juggled the ball after the tag, and a run was awarded the Gators. Replay clearly showed that Wallace had secured the ball, and the booth announcers all agree the call was blown.

After striking first, the Gators held the Tigers scoreless for three innings before Victoria Draper did what she does best: beating out infield hits. This time, the nine-hole hitter’s hustle scored 2nd baseman Casey McCrackin to cut the lead to one. In the fifth, designated hitter, Courtney Shea, doubled to score Haley Fagan, and McCrackin folllowed with a clutch bunt that scored speedy pinch runner Bree Fornis on the squeeze play, giving the Tigers the lead 3–2.

Auburn held that lead all the way to the last frame, and that’s where things went awry.  A costly error by Haley Fagan with two outs put the Gators in position to tie the game with runners on first and third. Then the Tigers did something they haven’t done in the Myers era: made back-to-back errors. 

On a fly ball hit to shallow center, Draper deferred to second baseman, Casey McCrakin, who was forced to make a very difficult catch. McCrackin was unable to catch the fly ball, which appeared to be routine for Draper. Both 
Florida runners scored for a walk off win on an error. Carlson took her first loss of the season although she allowed only two earned runs. 

The loss obviously hurt the Tigers, whose game two was one to forget. Auburn simply didn’t show up for game two, and Florida’s Barnhill notched an astounding sixteen strikeouts with only two hits allowed in a complete-game shutout. Auburn’s Wallace was the only Tiger not to strike out at least once, and the Tigers were trounced 7–0. Makayla Martin took the loss, and freshman Ashlee Swindle appeared in relief late in the game. Auburn’s uninspired play left the pitchers no chance. 

On Monday evening, Carlson was back in the circle, and the Tigers looked motivated to avoid the first sweep of the Myers’ era. Carlson was absolutely brilliant, allowing just three hits in a shutout win that included four strikeouts. Though Auburn had an error, an ill-advised no-look toss by Veach after a brilliant diving grab at a hard grounder, the Tigers stiffened in the field. Auburn notched another double play, extending their NCAA lead in double plays. 

In the circle, Florida’s Gourley pitched her own fantastic game, save for a single pitch that Kendall Veach blasted for her team-leading eighth home run. Like Carlson, Gourley allowed only three hits but picked up her second loss of the season, which was also Florida’s second loss.

Despite the milestone achieved by Myers, it wasn’t all celebration. Tempers flared immediately after the game when there was a clash between Auburn’s Haley Fagan and Florida’s head coach, Tim Walton. 

While shaking hands and expressing sportsmanship, Fagan decided to forego the sign of sportsmanship and refused to high-five or even acknowledge the Florida coaching staff. This slight may have stemmed from the dismissal of two of Fagan’s sisters from the Florida program several years before. Though it was clear that Fagan had no intention of exchanging pleasantries with the Florida staff, Walton pressed the issue by pushing Fagan on her right shoulder. In response, Fagan pushed Walton back and a series of words were exchanged.

Here’s the video of Fagan getting pushed when she didn’t shake hands with Walton. #WarEagle #Auburn pic.twitter.com/LVFFF2HUkw

— Zach Taylor (@Best5Zach) March 28, 2017

The sudden turn of events certainly cheapened Myers’ milestone win. However, Walton issued an apology for his part in the incident Tuesday. Afterwards, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said he had been reached by his counterpart at Florida, Scott Stricklin, and it was time to “move along.”

Auburn continues to struggle against Florida, which remains the only team the Tigers cannot consistently beat. In truth, while Auburn now has the talent and coaching, the winning pedigree just isn’t quite there, and it shows up in tough games. Last year it was senior Emily Carosone’s wild error in the finals. This series, it was multiple errors on fly balls. 

Auburn is set to take on a good Georgia team in Athens this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Saturday game is slated to be on ESPN. Make sure to follow me on Twitter as I live tweet in-game action @Best5Zach

14 Comments

  1. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    I’m unabashedly old school, and a grown man does not push a known volatile issue (i.e. he kicked her sisters off his team for contentious reasons) with a young woman whose team was just subjected to an extremely poor umpire call/deferral at home plate.

    We want our young women to play with passion. Her blood was up. Football players are often excused for these types of reactions, and more. Chalk it up to circumstances and move on.

    • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

      Well put Panda.

    • Tiger Tiger says:

      My respect rose a notch for Haley Fagan, for not letting another coach walk over her. I’m glad that it didn’t escalate beyond the “nudge/verbal exchange”, though.

      It was interesting to watch the facial expressions of the Auburn players in that lineup, too. Lots of personalities on display at that moment…Draper hiding behind a teammate and unsure of whether to laugh or not, Shea getting really shy and leaning away from Tim Walton, and Fagan starting to paw the dust. I like these ladies and am glad they won.

      Is there any good reason for not having instant replay in college softball, at least at home plate? Seems easy enough to do. What’s the excuse?

  2. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    The errors on Saturday night were painful to watch and Auburn should have won that game. True, the call at home plate was one of the worst I’ve seen but, to be brutally honest, did not lose us the game by itself.
    Sunday was simply hopeless as Auburn had absolutely nothing to offer and, geez, 16 strikeouts? Barnhill was masterful in the circle.
    There is a reason that Florida is ranked where they are.
    At least the girls were able to avoid the sweep and got a very deserving Coach Myers his 1500th win – Congrats to him.

  3. […] I think the Auburn softball team showed some grit by coming back and winning the last game of the Florida series. The Tigers previously choked a game away in the bottom of the last inning […]

  4. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    A nice read Zach. You can see my comments at AUTigerBloggin. There is usually a story behind these incidents. Haley Fagan and Tim Walton did not high five one another after the Saturday or Sunday games so why expect the two to high five one another after the game on Monday night. As you may have read, there is a history between the Fagan family and Tim Walton that goes back to the 2012 season when he dismissed her two sisters from the Gator Softball team for what was called “an altercation on the team”. I feel that Haley was just trying to avoid a confrontation with Tim Walton during this series.
    It is now time to move on to Georgia this weekend.

  5. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Breaking news: cody Myers resigns.

    Wow. Don’t know what to say.

  6. Randyc37 Randyc37 says:

    I was thinking that Corey Myers was destined to be the next head coach of the Auburn Softball team. Perhaps it was time for him to take a personal break. It may be time for Kaylee Carlson to serve as a player coach.

  7. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I won't repeat the speculations I've seen on various softball message boards here in this space, but they are pretty ugly.

  8. zotus zotus says:

    can’t love the smell of this scuttlebutt in the morning

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