Two Auburn stars made history Saturday: one at the plate, one in the circle.
Kasey Cooper became the second SEC player all-time to amass 250 hits and 250 RBI in a career in the first victory of the day for Auburn, a 6-2 win over Illinois. In game two of the afternoon for the Tigers, junior Kaylee Carlson threw the second perfect game in program history as Auburn rolled over Ohio State 8-0.
“I thought Kaylee pitched awesome,” said head coach Clint Myers. “To pitch a perfect game, that’s just something that doesn’t happen. She got great support from the defense and we needed it.
“To bounce back and play a great game of Auburn softball with her taking charge and leading, I thought it was a great job – both with her leadership and with her performance pitching.”
Carlson’s perfect game was the second of its kind by a Tiger as Holly Currie accomplished the feat versus the College of Charleston, Feb. 11, 2005. The Garden Grove, Calif. native also tallied the 23rd no-hitter in program history.
Cooper joined Charlotte Morgan of Alabama (2007-10) as the only two softball players to ever achieve 250 hits and 250 RBI during their collegiate careers.
“Cooper is a phenomenal player,” stated Myers. “She’s got a lot of softball left and there’s going to be other milestones that she’ll have, but it’s quite an honor to be the second player to reach 250 in two different areas.
“That just sums up her ability to produce with those kind of numbers. I’m very excited for her and very honored that she’s an Auburn Tiger. It’s a great honor for the university, as well as Kasey.”
Four players led the Tigers (26-3) at the plate as Madi Gipson, Courtney Shea, Carlee Wallace and Cooper each contributed multiple hits. Cooper did most of the damage with four RBI, while Wallace and Shea added three and two RBI, respectively.
The trio of Jenna Abbott, Makayla Martin and Carlson combined to go the distance in the circle and surrendered just five hits while totaling nine strikeouts on the afternoon.
Cooper opened the scoring in the first game against the Illini (14-8) when she drilled her 250th career hit – a run-scoring double – to plate Victoria Draper and give Auburn a 1-0 lead.
After the Tigers added another run in the fourth, Cooper belted a three-run shot to right field to score Draper and Wallace and made it 5-0.
Auburn capped its scoring in the top of the fifth when Whitney Jordan raced home on a ball hit to the shortstop, but was enough for the junior to cross the plate.
Illinois registered runs in the fifth and sixth, but it was not enough as Abbott and Martin combined for six strikeouts and thwarted the Illini offense in the final frame to take the 6-2 decision.
In the second game of the day, it was all about Carlson in the circle.
The junior sent down all 18 of the Buckeyes (14-7) she faced by way of 10 pop flies, five groundouts and three strikeouts in the six-inning affair.
The Tigers did a majority of their scoring in the third inning with a five-run frame, highlighted by a bases loaded walk and back-to-back RBI doubles from Madi Gipson and Shea.
Auburn tacked on three more runs when Bree Fornis beat out a play at the plate and Wallace drilled a two-single to right to make it 8-0.
That was more than enough as Carlson went on to guide the Tigers to victory and complete the perfect game.
“I was just trying to go out there and execute my pitches and my defense made a lot of great plays, so I could not have done it without them,” Carlson said.
Auburn closes its run in the USF Tournament Sunday morning at 8 a.m. CST vs. LIU Brooklyn.