OKLAHOMA CITY -- No. 4 Auburn softball is heading to the Women's College World Series Championship after a thrilling 8-7 walk-off victory in the eighth inning over Florida State on Sunday evening.
"I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of ladies that sit to the right and ones that are not here," head coach Clint Myers said. "They did a phenomenal job. It wasn't as pretty as we would have liked. It wasn't as easy as we would have liked. But I think you saw the fight. I think you saw the heart. They beat a very talented, very good Florida State team with great talent and great coaching. I am extremely proud of the Auburn softball team, and I think I'll stop there."
Long balls carried the regulation portion of the game as as the two teams combined for four home runs with the Tigers dealing three, including two three-run shots. Florida State added their own three-run homer sending the game into extra innings tied at 7-7.
A leadoff single by Madi Gipson in the bottom of the eighth was misplayed by the Seminoles left fielder allowing Gipson to reach third base. Pinch runner Morgan Podany entered the game and slid around the tag at home on Whitney Jordan's fielder's choice to give the Tigers the dramatic victory.
After Auburn fell behind by a run in the top of first inning, Carlee Wallace gave Auburn a 3-1 lead lifting a home run to center field. The homer was Wallace's fourth of the year and scored Tiffany Howard and Emily Carosone, who reached base on a single and walk respectively.
Florida State went back on top scoring two runs in the second inning and another in the third to hold a 4-3 advantage over Auburn.
The back-and-forth contest continued as Jade Rhodes gave Auburn the lead for the next four innings connecting on her 17th home run of the season. The three-run bomb put the Tigers ahead 6-4.
Kasey Cooper broke the school record shared with Rhodes connecting on her 20th home run of the year to make it 7-4 in the fourth. The solo shot to right field also tied Carosone's season RBI record at 80 set last season.
Sophomore Kaylee Carlson started inside the circle for Auburn and went 2.0 innings before the Tigers went to their bullpen. Freshman Makayla Martin went the next 3.1 innings allowing one unearned run before Auburn relied on Rachael Walters for the next 1.2 frames. Carlson (19-2) returned to the circle in the eighth to pick up the victory pitching the eighth.
The Tigers set a new program mark for wins in a season (57) while improving to 4-1 in extra inning games this year. Auburn improved to 2-1 against No. 8 Florida State (55-10) on the year.
The win was Auburn's eighth during the 2016 NCAA tournament, one more than the Tigers total in the previous 17 years before Myers' arrival to Auburn.
Auburn advances to the WCWS Championship in a best-of-three series against the winner of LSU/Oklahoma. The Championship series will take place on June 6/7 at 7 p.m. on ESPN, with the date depending on the other game. A watch party will be held at Jane B. Moore Field for the championship series. Parking will open two hours prior to first pitch and gates will open 45 minutes prior with free admission for all fans.