Women's College World Series: Victoria Draper anchors stellar Auburn outfield
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Carlee Wallace thought "oh, no" when the ball left the bat and headed toward that empty spot in the outfield.
Then she remembered Victoria Draper plays centerfield.
"She's like a golden retriever out there," Wallace said. "It's ridiculous. You throw a ball, and she's like, 'ball, ball' and then she goes and gets the ball. Would you not agree?"
Everybody agreed after Draper's diving catch helped Auburn beat Florida State 8-7 Sunday night to send the Tigers to softball's best-of-three College World Series finals against Oklahoma.
ESPN’s SportsCenter made the catch the No. 1 Play of the Night for all the world to see.
Wallace, Auburn's catcher, says Draper's catch wasn't a shock.
"I swear, she tracks everything down, so to be honest with you, I really wasn't that surprised she caught it, because she's just that fast, and she makes me look like a snail," Wallace said. "No, I had no doubt in my mind that she was going to catch that ball."
Besides, Wallace said, Tiffany Howard was ready to back up the play.
"Tiff was literally two steps behind her ready to pick it up and throw somebody out," Wallace said. "Honestly, it was kind of routine for us because if you saw her at practice, she's doing the same junk at practice, laying out for things. Like, 'You're going to hurt yourself.'
"She did an awesome job, and from my view, it was really pretty."
So it is that defense is one of the names of Auburn’s game.
"That's what Auburn softball is," said third baseman Kasey Cooper, whose barehanded play to throw out a batter earned her the No. 9 spot on SportsCenter’s Play of the Night. "We make the good plays, and the great plays come along.
"That's what our coaches live by."