(Photo Courtesy of Auburn Athletics)
AUBURN, Ala. — Branndi Melero’s homer landed somewhere in the trees, probably in the creek and set the stage for Kasey Cooper to follow with a 3-run homer of her own.
Auburn is hoping the big hits and a 6-4 win over LSU on Saturday are a sign of things to come as the Tigers claimed their first SEC win of the season and the first conference win of the Clint Myers coaching era.
“It sets the foundation for us to start competing in the SEC. We want to make a statement: We’re here to play,” said Cooper.
The Tigers improved to 18-4-1 and 1-1 in the SEC. LSU fell to 16-7 overall and also 1-1 in the league. The two will finish their weekend series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s a long conference,” Myers aid. “It’s 24 games, and we’re in a position right now to win a series. You go into Sunday in a position to win says something.”
It says Auburn used homers to account for four of the runs, and it showed the Tigers can score with plate discipline, too. Auburn has only six hits in the 14 innings of the weekend series, but has walked 15 times. Myers said his team is still trying to understand the balance needed at the plate.
“We understand about half of it, maybe three-quarters,” Myers said, but he added “we’re really close.”
Auburn scored two in the first, but it was 2-2 in the third when Melero hit her homer.
“I was just in there thinking to myself to get a good pitch and drive it,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to hit it out. I was expecting to hit something hard on the ground.”
Instead, it went over the fence.
Cooper, who put Auburn ahead 6-2 in the fourth, had two of Auburn’s four hits, and she and Melero accounted for five RBIs. Jenna Abbott drove in the other run. The top four hitters scored all six runs.
The Tigers left eight on bases, but that was easier to handle after leaving eight on in Friday’s 4-1 loss.
“We looked back at how many runners we left on, and the situations we were in, and the chances we had to win the game, the emphasis was to execute Auburn softball,” Cooper said.
Auburn did it despite LSU’s Sahvanna hitting two home runs. Marcy Harper improved to 9-0. LSU starter Ashley Czechner fell to 5-5.
The game featured five homers, but it was a nice defensive play by shortstop Kelsey Bogaards that ended things when she made a nice diving catch for the final out, stranding LSU runners at first and third.