It’s the bottom of the seventh in a tie ballgame. Last chance.
Bree Fornis steps up to the plate with over 2,000 fans on the edge of their seats. She pops one up to right field, an easy out, but then it hits the defenders glove and falls to the ground. Fornis cranks the burners and makes it to third. Morgan Podany walks up to the plate and, after a few pitches, launches a single to right field. The crowd goes wild. It’s a walk-off victory for Auburn.
The final inning of play was full of ups and downs for the Tigers, who led 4-2 at the end of the sixth. South Carolina put three runners on base with no outs, and then came Chardonnay Harris. Harris entered to relieve Ashlee Swindle and made an immediate impact striking out two straight batters.
With loaded bases and two outs the count was three balls to no strikes, but Harris battled to make the count 3-2. The next pitch was popped out to right field, but thanks to an outstanding defensive effort, South Carolina only scored two runs.
No. 11 Auburn (33-8, 9-4 SEC) was able to outlast No. 16 South Carolina’s comeback effort to win 5-6 off the walk-off single by Podany. The Tigers are now tied at 9-4 atop the SEC with Ole Miss.
Harris earned credit for the win and is now 8-1 on the season. Swindle, despite some struggles late, had a solid night starting in the circle with a career-high eight strikeouts.
“That’s the nice thing about this team,” said head coach Mickey Dean. “They don’t point fingers at each other and they give everyone credit. Char did her job, she came in and did her job.”
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Taylon Snow led the team in hits with two and now only needs two more to become the fifth Tiger to hit her 100th career hit this season. Five total Tigers ended the night with at least one hit, and Kendall Veach launched her 18th home-run of the season in the victory.
The big offensive highlights came from Fornis and Podany, who secured the walk-off victory.
“(Morgan Podany) battled,” Coach Dean said. “Bree, how many times have you seen a kid hit a pop-up and jog down first baseline. She got a triple out of it, we get a double maybe we don’t win that game.”
Podany entered the box with no outs but had already been struck out once by South Carolina’s Dixie Raley. The pressure was on and her confidence was high.
“I took a deep breath, entered the box and said, 'Game on.' There was no way she was striking me out again,” Podany said.
Auburn and South Carolina will play in the second game of the three-game series beginning at 11 a.m. CST on Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field.
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