March 29, 2013
Starkville, Miss. - In game one, the Tigers overcame a two-run deficit with a five-run fifth inning and cruised to an 8-3 win over the Bulldogs.
Marcy Harper improved to 12-5 with a complete-game effort. Harper allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
Stephanie Becker (6-4) started and took the loss. Becker allowed five runs, all earned, on two hits with three walks and four strikeouts in four and two-third innings.
Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, taking advantage of two walks issued by Harper. Sam Lenahan led off with a walk and took second on a one-out walk to Logan Foulks. After a foul out for the second out, Heidi Shape dropped a bloop single into shallow right field to score Lenahan and give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
An Auburn two-out error gave the Bulldogs their second run of the game. Lenahan led off with another walk and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a pop-up for the second out, Briana Bell hit a ground ball to Emily Carosone at shortstop who booted the routine grounder. The ball rolled into center, allowing Lenahan to score easily for a 2-0 Mississippi State lead.
Auburn rallied for five runs in the top of the fifth. The Tigers put the leadoff hitter on for the first time in the game when Caitlin Schultze drew a walk. Kristyn Richards was put in to run for Schultze. Caitlin Jordan followed with a pop-up to shortstop for the first out of the inning. Baylee Stephens then picked up Auburn's first hit of the game with a single through the left side, which moved Richards to second.
Jade Rhodes was put in to hit for Maris Medina and on a 1-0 count, Richards and Stephens pulled off a double steal to put runners at third and second with one out. Rhodes got the Tigers a run with a ground out to second base, which plated Richards to cut the deficit to 2-1. After falling behind in the count 1-2, Tiffany Howard fouled off three straight pitches before lacing a single back up the middle to score Stephens and tie the game 2-2.
After Howard stole second base, Morgan Estell was hit by a pitch and Carosone took ball four on a 3-2 pitch to walk and load the bases. The walk chased Becker and brought Allison Owen into the game. Brooke Lathan pushed home the go-ahead run after taking ball four in a 14 pitch at-bat. Lathan's walk plated Howard, giving Auburn a 3-2 lead. Branndi Melero followed with a two-run single to center, scoring Estell and Carosone which gave the Tigers a 5-2 lead. That would cap the rally as Melero was called out for leaving first base early on a steal attempt.
Mississippi State cut into the Auburn lead when Bell crushed a one-out, solo home run over the fence in left-center in the bottom of the sixth. It was Bell's sixth home run of the season and it made it a 5-3 game. Harper, however, would get a fly foul out and a fly out to right to end the inning with just one MSU run scoring.
Leading by two in the top of the seventh, the Tigers added three insurance runs. Medina led off with an infield single and advanced to third on a throwing error by Foulks on a sac bunt by Howard, who took second on the play. An intentional walk to Estell loaded the bases. After a fielder's choice forced Medina out at home, Lathan plated Howard and Estell with a double to center. A RBI ground out by Melero pushed Carosone (fielder's choice) home to give the Tigers an 8-3 lead.
Despite allowing a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh, Harper shut the door on the Bulldogs to seal the victory for the Tigers.