A seven-run first inning along with a no-hit pitching performance from Marcy Harper and Rachael Walters guided Auburn to its first win of 2016, 9-0 in five innings over Appalachian State Thursday night at Jane B. Moore Field.
"It was a good win, but we still have to loosen up a bit," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "There are things we did well tonight, but we have to keep improving. I'm smiling about a 9-0 win with a no-hitter. That's pretty easy coaching there."
Harper only allowed two runners on base the entire night, one by way of a walk in the very first at-bat, the other after an error by Whitney Jordan in the top of the fourth as the senior gathered her first victory of the year.
Walters finished out the fifth inning, taking on the closer role early in the season, but it was Harper's night in the circle that helped the Tigers to a huge opening win.
"I thought Marcy threw lights-out," Myers said. "She made pitches and hit the zone. She walked one batter and struck out a bunch. That's what we preach; get the ball in the zone and we're going to make you hit what we want. I thought she executed quite well. I was very pleased."
The no-hitter is Auburn's first since Harper tossed her own five-inning no-hitter back in 2013 against Savannah State. Tonight's combined no-hitter against the Mountaineers was the first of its kind since 1999 when Kenisse Montalvo and Mary Petrie blanked Alabama A&M.
Offensively, Auburn picked up where it left off 2015, scoring seven runs in the first frame along with triples from junior Kasey Cooper and sophomore Whitney Jordan. It's a far cry from the 10-run inning Auburn had in its opener last season, but it wasn't far off. The Tigers still batted around as 12 batters came to the plate.
After Emily Carosone walked to lead off the inning, Cooper laced one to the wall in right-center field, scoring Carosone easily and giving Auburn the early 1-0 lead. Senior Jade Rhodes followed with an RBI single before the big hit from Jordan.
With two on and only one out, Jordan roped a liner down the third-base line, scoring both Madi Gipson and Courtney Shea, breaking the game open for Auburn at a 5-0 lead. The triple spelled the end for Appalachian State's starting pitcher, Katherine Johnson, as she finished her night with not even a full inning pitched, but seven runs given up on only four hits with three walks.
"Whitney's a great athlete," Myers said. "You saw her versatility going up the hole. When you looked at the replay, she had a ball that almost hit the bag and she got right in front of it and got the runner at first, it wasn't even close."
Jordan finished the night 1-for-3 with the big two RBI triple to her name.
A sacrifice fly by Victoria Draper and then a wild pitch later to score Morgan Podany capped the seven-run first for the Tigers, a lead they would not relinquish.
Carosone ended up as the only Tiger with a multi-hit game as she went 2-for-2 with two singles. Jordan finished with the high RBI total as her three-bagger brought home the biggest amount of runs on the night.
Auburn gets back on the field Friday when it faces Western Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. at Jane B. Moore Field. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+ and fans can also listen to the live radio call on WEGL 91.1 FM and on AuburnTigers.com.
The Tigers host the Plainsman Invite all weekend at Jane B. Moore Field with the first game on Friday set for 10 a.m. between Furman and Butler.