Backed into a corner, the Tigers roared their way off the brink — and into the regional finals out in Tucson.
The Auburn softball team survived Colorado State 8-0 in an elimination game late Saturday night at the NCAA Tournament’s Tucson Regional, and will advance to face host Arizona with a trip to Super Regionals on the line on Sunday.
The Tigers lost to Arizona in the teams’ first meeting earlier in the day Saturday, falling into an elimination game with Colorado State as the region’s double-elimination format continued.
But, facing the end of their season, the Tigers charged back against Colorado State, score four runs in a rally in the top of the second and another four runs in the top of the fifth before putting the Rams away early.
Auburn will meet Arizona in the regional finals at 6 p.m. Sunday. If the Tigers can hand the Wildcats their first loss of the regional, a winner-take-all final game would take place shortly after — to decide the region winner that’ll move on to the 16-team Super Regionals round ahead of the Women’s College World Series.
Chardonnay Harris pitched the complete-game shutout in five innings for Auburn in the win late Saturday night.
Auburn opened its play in Tucson with a 10-5 win over Colorado State on Friday, before Arizona beat Harvard on the other side of bracket. Arizona then beat Auburn 2-1 Saturday afternoon to drop Auburn into the losers’ side of activity, and into a rematch with Colorado State after the Rams beat Harvard 6-0.
Auburn scored four runs with two outs down in the second inning in the rematch with Colorado State, before Alyssa Rivera boosted a solo home run over the fence in the fifth to start the Tigers’ second big scoring rally of the game.
In the bottom of the fifth, Colorado State put runners on second and third with no outs down, threatening to extend the game and get inside the eight-run mercy rule window, but Harris fought out of the jam to end the game.
Arizona is the region’s host and the No. 6 overall seed in the tournament.
The region winner will be among the 16 teams left standing in the tournament going into Super Regionals, a round of best-of-three series finding the eight teams that will go to the Women’s College World Series.