College softball: Auburn's Rivera scores walk-off victory over Cal
AUBURN, Ala. – Alyssa Rivera came up clutch as she drilled a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning to elevate the No. 8 Auburn softball team over Cal, 4-3, Saturday afternoon. The Tigers (48-10) earned their eighth-straight victory in the NCAA Regional round.
“It was a great win,” said head coach Clint Myers. “Situationally, we’ve got to do a little better, but we had the intangibles of very good pitching. We played pretty good defense and we definitely had some timely hitting and we had some people coming through at the right times. So, we’re very excited about where we are. That was a very good Cal club, well-coached and good athletes. They’re a good Pac-12 team.”
Auburn totaled 15 hits in the contest from seven players, including multiple hits from five Tiger batters. For the game, Auburn hit .429 (6-for-14) with two outs and .350 (7-for-20) with runners on base.
Haley Fagan paced the offense and tied a career-high with four hits, while Rivera finished the tilt by also matching a career-best with three base knocks. Kasey Cooper and Victoria Draper each finished with two hits, while Casey McCrackin launched a home run to go along with a single in the nine-inning affair.
In the circle, Makayla Martin tallied her second victory of the regional after tossing three scoreless innings of relief with two strikeouts. Kaylee Carlson started the game and worked the first six innings, scattering five hits and three runs while striking out three.
Cal (31-23) opened the scoring in the top of the third by plating a run on a wild pitch and a single to take a 2-0 lead.
However, Auburn matched the production in the home half.
McCrackin led off the frame with a solo homer after battling a seven-pitch at-bat. Following a single by Draper and a stolen base, Fagan ripped a single to left to score Draper and knot the game up at 2-2.
The Bears regained the lead in the top of the fifth with an RBI single, 3-2.
One inning later, the Tigers responded. Whitney Jordan drew a walk and then Morgan Podany came in to run. Draper followed that up with a single to put runners on first and second with two outs.
Cooper then laced a single to left, which was enough to score Podany on a close play at the plate to tie the game at 3-3.
Auburn and Cal combined to put three runners on base in the seventh and eighth innings, but were unable to secure the advantage.
In the ninth with runners on the corners, Wallace made a key play by catching the runner on third leaning and getting her in a rundown. Following an exchange between Wallace and Fagan, the Tigers got the out and then Martin sent down the next batter to get out of the stanza unscathed.
Wallace and Fagan then stepped up and delivered at the dish with consecutive singles with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Brittany Maresette came in to run for Wallace at second, setting up the winning play.
Rivera fought off a two-strike count and took an outside pitch the other way for a single down the line in left. Maresette showed her speed and beat the throw at home, sending Auburn to the 4-3 win.
The Tigers advance to the regional final and will await one of either Cal, East Tennessee State or Notre Dame Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. with television designation to be determined. Brit Bowen and Brad Law will have the call from the radio booth on 95.9 FM and the official Auburn app.