CLEMSON, S.C. - A nearly two-hour rain delay halted Saturday's elimination game in the fourth inning, but Shelby Lowe returned to the diamond and tossed a gem to lead No. 17 Auburn softball (42-18) to a 5-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton (34-21) at McWhorter Stadium.
"It was a long day," said head coach Mickey Dean. "We did what we had to do to get to Sunday. We'll get an opportunity to see what happens tomorrow. I'm proud of Shelby (Lowe) for stepping up."
Lowe retired 15 consecutive Titans and carried her perfect game bid into the sixth inning before having it broken up with a leadoff double. All three hits allowed by Lowe came in the sixth and seventh innings as she earned Auburn's 24th shutout victory. She struck out seven in her sixth win of the season.
"I came in wanting to make a statement," Lowe said. "It wasn't only special to me, but also to my teammates. They haven't seen me pitch like that in a while. I was glad I was able to have their backs."
Rose Roach came up with a clutch two-run single in the fourth inning to give Auburn needed insurance after the lengthy delay. Denver Bryant turned in a 2-for-3 performance with a double, a walk and two runs scored.
"We knew we needed to bounce back," Roach said. "We couldn't let today's earlier loss keep us from making it into Sunday. We stayed locked in."
Loading the bases in the top of the first, Auburn plated the first run of the elimination contest with a bases-loaded walk drawn by Lindsey Garcia.
With one on and one out in the top of the fourth, the game was halted. Once the tarp was pulled, the Tiger offense brought the pressure. Pinch hitter Jessie Blaine drew a walk to put two on for the Tigers. Down to the final out of the inning, Roach cleared the bags with a base hit to right to push the lead to 3-0.
Drawing a pair of walks, Abbey Smith stepped to the plate with two outs. Smith beat out a bunt back to the circle for a base hit, but her speed forced a wild throw that allowed Bryant to score from second. Icess Tresvik pushed the lead to 5-0, scoring on a wild pitch.
Auburn will have a rematch with No. 10 Clemson on Sunday. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. CT. The game will be available on ESPN+. Any further television assignments will be announced. Auburn will need to beat Clemson twice on Sunday to advance to Super Regionals.