CLEMSON, S.C. - Battling from the loser's bracket, No. 17 Auburn softball (43-19) forced the if necessary game at the Clemson Regional, but No. 10 Clemson (49-10) held on to clinch the final game of the doubleheader slate at McWhorter Stadium on Sunday.
Finishing the season one win away from Super Regionals, Auburn tallied its most wins in a season under head coach Mickey Dean and its highest win total since 2017. It was Auburn's first appearance in a NCAA Regional final since 2019.
"After playing through the bracket and having a late night, I am so proud of the fight our team had to force a game seven," Dean said. "We just didn't have enough in the tank at the end. Congrats to Clemson. They are a talented team. We've been building something the last several years, and we're on the doorstep of something big. This was a special season. It's something we can continue to build off."
Auburn wasted no time jumping out early on Clemson's Valerie Cagle. Nelia Peralta drew a walk before Rose Roach beat out an infield single to set up an RBI opportunity for Bri Ellis, and she did not miss. She drove a home run to straightaway center to put Auburn up 3-0.
Clemson answered in the top of the fourth with a solo home from Alia Logoleo, but Auburn responded in the home half of the inning. Aubrie Lisenby singled to left and was lifted for pinch runner Skylar Elkins. With Elkins standing at second with two outs, Peralta doubled down the line in left to push the lead back to three.
The host Tigers used a single and a pair of walks to load the bases with two outs, a bases-loaded walk push across a run to cut Auburn's lead to 4-2. Maddie Penta limited the damage, battling back from a three-ball count to record a strikeout.
Auburn perfected situational offense in the bottom of the sixth to plate a clutch insurance run. Lindsey Garcia led off with a single up the middle and was lifted for pinch runner Abbey Smith Lisenby dropped the sacrifice bunt to move Smith into scoring position before pinch hitter Jessie Blaine drove her home with a single through the left side.
Penta opened the seventh with back-to-back strikeouts, picking up her 300th of the season to become just the second player in school history to reach the milestone as she joined Kristen Keyes (2004). Cagle singled up the middle to keep the game alive, but Penta forced a fly out to right field to send Auburn into the if necessary game. The win was Penta's 27th of the year, which tied the program record for wins a season. She closed the game with seven strikeouts.
Clemson jumped out the first inning lead in the second game of the twin billing, scoring on a wild pitch. A walk and RBI single put the host Tigers up 2-0 before Clemson loaded the bases in the frame, forcing Penta out of the game. A bases-loaded walk put Clemson up 3-0.
Auburn manufactured a run in the top of the third as Makayla Packer drove a double to right before taking third on an error. An excellent slide at the plate on a fielder's choice allowed Packer to score. Clemson answered in the fourth, plating a pair of runs off three hits to secure the win.