Pitching sparks Auburn sweep in Tiger Invitational

Feb. 15, 2014

Auburn
Auburn
(7-1-1)
 Feb. 15, 2014
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 Auburn Tigers
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4
 Neb.-Omaha
2
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2

UNO
(4-3)
Auburn
Auburn
(8-1-1)
 Feb. 15, 2014
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 Western Illinois
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 Auburn Tigers
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WIU
(5-2)

AUBURN, Ala. – Sophomore pitchers Marcy Harper and Lexi Davis both set new career-highs for strikeouts in a game Saturday, helping the Auburn University softball team score wins over Nebraska-Omaha, 4-2, and Western Illinois, 6-0. The Tigers have won four games in a row during this weekend’s Tiger Invitational and five-straight dating back to their win over Tennessee Tech last week at the Plainsman Invite.

"We talked about it before the game, we have to work on our consistency," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "If you had to put two games in a row, that's the best our pitchers have looked. They now understand if they hit their spots and do the things that we talk about in practice, some good things can really happen."

Harper tallied 11 strikeouts in her outing against Nebraska-Omaha, scattering only three hits to go with the two earned runs given up. Her previous career-high came when she fanned 10 batters against Tennessee State on March 12 of last season.

As for Davis, she matched her teammate with a career-high nine strikeouts of her own against the Leathernecks and also went the distance for her third complete game of the year. The Charlotte, N.C. native's nine strikeouts was three better than her previous high set against Ole Miss on April 7 of last year. Combined, 20 strikeouts were recorded by the Auburn pitching staff on Saturday, 29 have been totaled by Tiger pitchers in both days of tournament play.

Offensively, unlike their previous two games this weekend, the Tigers only combined for seven hits in both contests. Junior Branndi Melero notched the only multi-hit game on Saturday, going 2-for-2 with two RBI against Nebraska-Omaha. Her hit in the fifth against the Mavericks proved to be the game winner as she brought in sophomore Emily Carosone and freshman Kasey Cooper to give Auburn the lead for good.

Auburn went on to score one more on UNO in the seventh after redshirt junior Morgan Estell doubled in sophomore Kelsey Bogaards for her one of two hits on the night.

"We've said all along that this was going to be a good defensive club," Myers said. "We've got some things we have to work on, we're not there yet. Every day, you either get better or worse. Today we got better."

In game two, the Western Illinois-Auburn matchup was a pitcher's duel through the first three and a half innings as only one hit was tallied between the two clubs. However, the Tigers broke through in the bottom half of the fourth when Cooper double to left-center field scoring Estell and Carosone. Cooper later scored on a sacrifice fly by junior McKenzie Kilpatrick. For Cooper, she finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBI.

The Orange and Blue got some insurance in the bottom of the sixth as it plated three more runs on the backs of a two RBI single by sophomore Jade Rhodes to push the lead to 6-0 for the final score. The shutout by Davis, is her first of the season and second shutout by Auburn in 2014.

Auburn returns to the field tomorrow for its final day of the Tiger Invitational at Jane B. Moore Field. It will face Winthrop at 3 p.m. and will be looking for its sixth-straight victory. The first game of day three of the Tiger Invitational will feature Loyola against Nebraska-Omaha, starting at 9 a.m.

The Auburn games can be heard locally on WEGL 91.1 or online at AuburnTigers.com. Live video and live stats will also be available on AuburnTigers.com throughout the weekend for all games.

All home games at Jane B. Moore Field this year will require a purchased ticket unless otherwise specified. All ticket information can be found here on AuburnTigers.com.

For more information on Auburn softball, visit AuburnTigers.com, follow the team on Twitter @AuburnTigersSB or follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuburnSB.