Late homers lift Auburn to sweep of Murray State

March 19, 2014

Auburn
Auburn
(25-4-1)
 March 19, 2014
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 Murray State Racers
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 Auburn Tigers
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9
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Murray St.
(11-11)
Auburn
Auburn
(24-4-1)
 March 19, 2014
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 Murray St. Racers
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Murray St.
(11-12)

AUBURN, Ala. – The Auburn University softball team started its Wednesday off perfectly with its sixth-straight run-rule victory, a 10-0 win over Murray State at Jane B. Moore Field, but needed late-inning homers from freshmen Kasey Cooper and Jenna Abbott to defeat the Racers in game two, 11-7, to move to 26-4-1 on the year.

The Tigers have won nine games in a row dating back to its 6-4 win in game two of its three-game series with LSU and has won 13 of its last 14 games. With the two losses, Murray State falls to 11-12 on the season.

“We’ve said it before,” Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. “This team has shown great character and has never stopped competing. We’re going to go until the fat lady sings and the final out is made. They showed it again today that it’s never over.”

After a shutout pitching performance from sophomore Lexi Davis in game one, Auburn had to provide a little more run support in game two, falling behind 7-4 going into the home half of the fifth inning. In the fifth with a runner on, Abbott hit her fourth home run of the year right over the right-center field wall to cut the MSU lead to 7-6. For Abbott, Wednesday’s home run was her first long ball since hitting one against Florida State, breaking a 12-game streak without a home run.

In the next inning, Auburn took the lead for good, scoring five runs in its final offensive frame. Redshirt junior Morgan Estell hit the game-tying RBI double with one out and then Cooper corked her ninth home run of the year to straight-away centerfield giving Auburn the 11-7 lead and the win. Cooper’s home run total continues to lead the team as she went 2-for-6 (.333) in Wednesday’s games and now has 46 RBI on the season to tie for the team-lead with junior Branndi Melero.

Much of the action from game one was like Auburn’s previous five games as the Tigers established an early lead with four runs in the first inning and three more in the second. Some timely hitting was all Auburn needed in those early innings as seven hits were tallied, only one being an extra-base hit, coming from Estell.

Estell had the best batting line out of game one, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI. One of her RBI was a big one as she hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning to push Auburn’s lead to 8-0. The long ball was her fourth of the year and first since hitting one against Loyola on Feb. 14.

Auburn added two more in the bottom of the fourth for the final tally of game one, but the pitching performance from Davis was spot-on, once again, as the Charlotte, N.C. native picked up her 12th win of the year, going 4.0 innings and giving up only three hits and two walks.

“Lexi’s been throwing the ball well all year,” Myers said. “She didn’t have her best stuff, but she managed the get the job done as winners do.”

In game two, Auburn struggled to get any base runners or even base hits as it did not record its first hit on Murray State starter CheyAnne Gaskey until the third inning. The Racers built up a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning before Auburn made its first of two comebacks in the game.

In the fourth, the Tigers loaded the bases on a MSU error and then a walk to Melero followed by a single up the middle by Jade Rhodes. Auburn finally got on the board after Abbott walked to bring in Cooper from third, making it 3-1 Murray State.

Gaskey continued to struggle to find the zone for Murray State as she walked the next batter in Austyn West, bringing home Melero to make it 3-2 Racer lead. With two outs and bases still juiced, sophomore Emily Carosone laced a double to right field that barely missed clearing the wall, scoring two more runs and giving the Orange and Blue the 4-3 lead. Carosone finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBI and one run scored.

The Racers answered back in the top half of the fifth with four more runs to re-take the lead at 7-4. The runs came off a couple of Murray State home runs, even after the Tigers made a pitching change, bring back Davis from game one.

Davis settled down in the final innings and got the run support she needed in Abbott’s and Cooper’s home runs to finish the game and earn her second victory of the night and 13th of the year.

Auburn will be back on the field Friday for its second SEC series of the 2014 season, facing Mississippi State for a three-game set. Friday’s game one will start at 6 p.m. at Jane B. Moore Field, while games two and three on Saturday and Sunday will be at 1 p.m.

All 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. Live stats for all games this weekend will also be available online.

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.