CLEARWATER, Fla. - Pitching ruled the day as the No. 3 Auburn softball team opened the Michele Smith PC Invitational with wins over Oklahoma State and USF Friday afternoon at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex. Auburn defeated the Cowgirls, 6-1, and then the Bulls later, 6-0, to stay at a perfect 8-0 on the season.
Sophomore Kaylee Carlson (3-0) got the start against Oklahoma State (2-5) and pitched a solid 3.1 innings, giving up only one run, which wasn't earned. That quality start gave way to senior Rachael Walters, who finished out the contest with 3.2 innings pitched of scoreless softball, scattering four hits and allowing one walk with four strikeouts.
Sophomore Whitney Jordan and redshirt sophomore Madi Gipson led Auburn at the plate against Oklahoma State, getting some key extra base hits late in the game to pad the Tigers' lead into a sizeable one. Both Jordan and Gipson finished with two hits and two RBI.
In game two, freshman Makayla Martin (2-0) got the call in the circle and was lights out from first pitch, throwing her first complete game shutout of her career and picking up her second victory of the season.
Over the seven innings, Martin gave up just five hits to the Bulls (2-5), striking out four and getting out of multiple jams with the help of her defense. USF left seven runners on base throughout the game, many in scoring position.
After three appearances this season, Martin has generated a sub-1.00 ERA and has allowed just nine base hits over 12.0 innings pitched. She joins teammate Marcy Harper as the only two Auburn pitchers with complete game shutouts this season. Harper's coming earlier this week in Auburn's 2-0 win over No. 15 UCF.
At the plate, Auburn seemed more comfortable with the bats from the top to the bottom of the lineup. Junior Kasey Cooper and senior Jade Rhodes came through with two RBI ball games, while Jordan and redshirt sophomore Victoria Draper finished with two hits each.
For Draper, it was her second multi-hit game of the season and for Jordan, the Athens, Ala.-native continues to have the hot bat through the season's first eight games as she went a combined 4-for-7 on Friday with three RBI and a triple.
Jordan continues the lead the team some major offensive categories this season with eight of her 10 hits going for extra bases, coupled with two triples, two home runs and a team-high 14 RBI.
Looking to get the bats going a little better than what they showed on Wednesday, the Tigers manufactured some good runs against the Cowgirls, but the runs didn't come until the late innings. After Auburn plated two in the first inning on some walks and a wild pitch by OSU starter Kacy Freeze. Jordan provided the lone RBI on her single through the right side.
Auburn didn't score again until the fourth inning after Gipson delivered the two RBI triple, Auburn's first of two triples in the game. Jordan later hit her triple in the top of the seventh, which was preceded by a big RBI double by Jenna Abbott, giving Auburn the final insurance runs it needed to put away Oklahoma State.
In game two, it looked as if both starters were settling in for a pitcher's duel. Both Martin and USF starter, Erica Nunn, tossed two-straight scoreless frames to open the contest.
Auburn finally got on the board in the third as Jordan came up with the clutch RBI again with a bases loaded single to right field. It was nearly two RBI that came home, but Tiffany Howard was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play to end the inning.
In the fourth inning, Auburn's lineup went right to work on the extra base hits. Four-straight doubles were tallied by the Tigers in the inning, bringing three runs in to break open Auburn's lead to 4-0 over USF. Gipson, Draper, Rhodes and Cooper all hit two baggers in the inning to score the three runs and force Nunn to be pulled for Sarah Wysocki.
USF never recovered from Auburn's big fourth inning as the Orange and Blue added two more in the fifth to reach the final score of 6-0.
Auburn will play two more games tomorrow here in Clearwater, Fla., coming against No. 19 James Madison at 11:15 a.m. CT and then DePaul right after at 1:45 p.m. CT. The Tigers' game against the Dukes of James Madison will be their second ranked opponent of the season.
All games this weekend will have live audio streamed online on AuburnTigers.com and on the radio on WEGL 91.1 FM.