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Starkville, Mississippi

Five-run second inning propels No. 18 Auburn to win

68 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Behind a complete-game effort from sophomore Maddie Penta and big offensive production at the plate, No. 18 Auburn softball (36-10, 9-9 SEC) clinched its first road Southeastern Conference road series on the season knocking off Mississippi State, 9-2, Sunday at Nusz Park.

"It was hot," said head coach Mickey Dean. "It was a long game. It was a crazy game. Every other inning, our offense was ready to explode. They did a really nice job. Maddie Penta really batted. I know she was tired. It's great to win a road series. It's been a while."

Penta gave up just one earned run to the Bulldogs (29-19, 8-9 SEC), scattering seven runs and walk over seven innings. The right-hander struck out 11, a season high in league action.

Penta brought her season strikeout total to 232, the seventh most in a single season on the Plains. She now stands 22-5 in the circle. Her 22 wins tied Lexi Davis (2014) for the sixth most in a season at Auburn.

"It's been a while since we've put these types of numbers up in conference play," said Penta. "It shows just what kind of team we are. I'm glad we were able to bring that to the table today and show what we are made of."

At the plate, freshman Nelia Peralta led the Tigers with a 3-for-3 performance. Peralta slugged two doubles and a home run. The blast was Peralta's 10th of the season, marking the first time in program history that Auburn has had two freshmen record double-digit home runs in the same season. Peralta also brought her doubles total up to 14, which ties Emily Carosone (2013) for the third most by an Auburn freshman.

"I was seeing the ball a lot better today," said Peralta. "I went up there looking for one pitch, and that's what I got. This team has brought out the best in me, and I am so thankful for them."

Sophomore Makayla Packer also turned in a multi-hit performance with a par of singles. Junior Lindsey Garcia turned in the lone multi-RBI performance as she drove in two.

In a little history, Bri Ellis knocked her 18th home run of the season, tying Kasey Cooper for Auburn's freshman record. Ellis now also stands tied for fifth with Cooper in Auburn single-season history for total home runs.

After retiring the Tigers in order, Mississippi State looked poised to score as they used a double, hit by pitch and an Auburn error to load the bases with one out. Penta battled back with a strike out and fly ball to left to leave the bags loaded.

Ellis answered immediately, leading off the second with a home run to straight away center. Peralta continued the momentum with a double down the line in left. Freshman Aubrie Lisenby pushed the Tiger lead to 2-0 with a single through the right side to score freshman pinch runner Rose Roach.

After senior Aspyn Godwin drew a walk, freshman Riley McNemar dropped a sacrifice bunt. The ball was overthrown at first, allowing McNemar to reach and the third Tiger run of the second inning to score. A second Tiger walk loaded the bases and forced a Mississippi State pitching change. Garcia welcomed new pitcher Matalasi Faapito with her fifth sacrifice fly of her junior season, pushing the lead to 4-0. Garcia now stands tied third in Auburn single-season history with Courtney Shea (2017) for sacrifice flies.

The Tigers also traded an out for the fifth run of the inning as freshman Jessie Blaine drove in a run on a fielder's choice to third base.

The Tigers were kept off the scoreboard again until the top of the fifth. Packer got on board with a two-out infield single. Packer scored from first as the Bulldogs drop a routine pop up at second. Peralta led off the fifth with a solo home run, her 10th of the season. Sophomore Paige Geraghty got on board with a one-out infield single before coming around to on a pinch-hit triple off the bat of sophomore Sydney Cox. Garcia made it a 10-0 Tiger lead with an RBI single up the middle.

With two on and down to their last strike, Mississippi State fought off the run rule as a Paige Cook singled to left was coupled with a Tiger error brought in a pair of runs. Penta slammed the doors in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win.

Up Next

Auburn wraps up the nonconference portion of the regular season with a midweek tilt at Alabama State. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.