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Auburn softball coach Mickey Dean resigns effective at season's end

Other than giving up a three-run homer in the third inning, senior left-hander Shelby Lowe had been dominant.  Auburn, which led 2-0 after Nelia Peralta’s two-run single in the second, had tied it in the fifth on Annabelle Widra’s run-scoring single.

But then came the sixth inning, and what unfolded was more about fate than about Lowe losing it. Florida State scored seven runs to take a 10-3 lead and went on to win 10-4, ending Mickey Dean’s tenure as Auburn’s head coach.

Dean wanted to focus on his players and not on his departure after seven seasons.

“I am very proud of our team, very proud of our effort and the work they’ve put in,” Dean said. “Really, it’s the work they’ve put into being great people and people of high moral character. I think that is going to make our program so much better moving forward. Florida State played a great game. I wish them the best of luck”

Michaela Edenfield started the pivotal sixth inning with a walk. Devyn Flaherty hit a popup to between second baseman Rose Roach and centerfielder Makayla Packer. It fell the only place it could, inches away from Packer’s dive. Jahni Kerr put down a sacrifice bunt. Lowe fielded it and had no play at first. The bases were loaded.

Dean went to ace Maddie Penta, who had thrown 222 pitches in a 2-1 win over Central Florida in 12 innings. Penta looked as sharp as ever, striking out the first two batters she faced. She and her teammates and her coaches were convinced she had struck out Kaley Mudge to end the inning, but a sizzling fastball on which catcher Anna Wohlers never moved her mitt was called a ball. Dean protested vociferously, saying his piece to any umpire who would listen. It was to no avail. Mudge walked and drove in the go-ahead run.

His only comment after the game was “It should have been three straight strikeouts.”

After Jaysoni Beachem’s soft grounder on the infield grass found a stopping spot and resulted in an infield hit, Penta seemed to lose her command. Two straight singles and Isa Torres’ three-run homer made it 10-3. Emmah Rolfe got the final out.

Still, the Tigers fought. KK McCreary led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run to centerfield, her 11th of the season. Wohlers walked, but Amelia Lech hit a smash back through the middle that the pitcher snared and turned into a double play.

After Rolfe held the Seminoles scoreless in the top of the seventh, Auburn had no more answers. The Tigers finished Dean’s final season 29-21-1. Florida State improved to 46-14 and will play at Oklahoma in a super regional.

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