Tigers Down Owls Despite Cooper's Absence from Lineup
Kasey Cooper missed her first start in 135 games on Wednesday night vs Kennesaw State
(Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)
In a game that saw a massive shift in the lineup, Auburn Softball adjusted well by defeating Kennesaw State 7-3 at Jane B. Moore Field on Wednesday night. With just under an hour until first pitch, the lineups for both teams were announced. There were no surprises, everyone was placed in their normal position. That was until Auburn took the field for pregame warmups. Senior third baseman Kasey Cooper was scratched from the lineup just minutes prior to first pitch after she took a softball to the face, prompting a major change to the starting nine. Kendall Veach, who has started every game this season to this point at first base, moved to third base to cover the hole. Jenna Abbott was then penciled in at first base. Victoria Draper moved to the leadoff role offensively. For Veach, the shakeup was a surprise but welcomed. “I was ready. I go and play third a lot at practice.” Veach said of the move to third base against Kennesaw State. “I like the corners, that’s where I live.” Cooper did enter the game, however, and did what she was asked to do as a pinch hitter. She scored the game’s final run on a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Kennesaw State game was the first time in 135 games that Cooper did not start at the hot corner. Is there a possibility of her missing more time? “I’m not worried about her missing practice, the doctor says that we will get it checked out tomorrow morning, and see where we stand,” says Coach Clint Myers. “No indication that anything is broken. It’s the face, so we always take precaution.” The game with Kennesaw State was not originally planned. With the losses of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State, and Samford on the schedule due to inclement weather, a game was needed to keep Auburn’s ranking high in the RPI. The Owls’ ranking ahead of the match with Auburn was #43, which puts them in prime position to score a NCAA Tournament bid. Kennesaw State played as expected, seeming to match Auburn step-for-step until the final inning. Two RBI doubles by Carlee Wallace and Alyssa Rivera began scoring for Auburn in the bottom of the first inning, but the lead was quickly erased when Kira Czyrklis singled with two on in the top half of the second inning, scoring two runs. The Tigers grabbed the lead for good on a two-run blast by Courtney Shea in the bottom half of the fourth inning to make the score 4-2. Czyrklis struck again by plating her third run of the game on an infield single to shortstop, scoring Noelle Winkles in the sixth inning, cutting Auburn’s lead to one run, 4-3. Auburn scored their final three runs in the bottom half of the inning on an Abbott double, a Casey McCrackin single, and the sacrifice fly from Cooper. Auburn moves to 37-7 on the season. The Tigers hit the road for a three-game set at South Carolina beginning Friday at 5 P.M.