No. 19 Auburn blanks Troy for sixth straight shutout
TROY, Ala. - Behind a double-digit strikeout performance from junior Maddie Penta, No. 19 Auburn softball (16-1) recorded its sixth consecutive shutout, blanking Troy 11-0 Wednesday night at the Troy Softball Complex.
Perfect through the first three frames of the game, Penta (9-0) allowed a lone single in the fourth inning. The right-hander turned in her third double-digit strikeout performance of the season with 10 over her five innings of work.
"We really used the changeup tonight," said head coach Mickey Dean. "When you have a pitcher that throw with the velocity that Maddie does on top of a good changeup, it is difficult as a hitter. Her rise ball started really popping in the second inning."
Carlee McCondichie and Makayla Packer both turned in multi-hit performances Wednesday night. McCondichie went 2-for-4 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Packer went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run score.
The Tigers' bench was productive in the seventh inning as senior Maia Engelkes delivered a pinch-hit, bases clearing double to drive in a career-high three runs. Freshman Axe Milanowski also delivered a pinch-hit, three-run blast in the seventh, the first home run of her collegiate career.
"What I like is that half of our hits came off kids that were pinch hitting," Dean said. "That means we're ready. That means we're playing as a team. That's what is important to me. I want to look at the things that are gauges for us. I think we've had more pinch hits this year than all the last two years combined. We're playing really good defense right now. I love seeing those numbers."
"Going in as a pinch hitter, you're just looking for a pitch to square up," Engelkes said. "I'm looking for something low, down. I got my pitch, squared it up and got my job done. I love my role. You never know when you're going to go into a game, but you've got to stay consistently ready. There's a thrill to it."
Shelby Lowe tossed the final two frames of the game for the Tigers, giving up her first walk of the season and striking out three. Lowe faced a runners-on-the-corners jam in the bottom of the sixth, but the Tigers benefitted from official review to erase a hit and retire the side to preserve the shutout.
Extending her reached base streak to 17 consecutive games, Nelia Peralta led off the midweek tilt with a hit by pitch before scoring on the McCondichie double to left center. After Jessie Blaine took advantage of a dropped third strike to reach safely, Lindsey Garcia delivered the big hit of the first inning with a bases-clearing triple to give Auburn a 3-0 lead.
McCondichie led off the third inning causing chaos and forcing an errant throw to stand to second. After moving to third on a Blaine infield single, McCondichie tagged up on a fly ball to right. The Tigers extended their lead to 5-0 as Denver Bryant scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.
The Tigers added six runs of insurances in the seventh behind the pair of extra-base hits from Engelkes and Milanowski.
"I was a little nervous," Milanowski said. "I just trusted my process. I live an hour away. Everyone came out tonight. My high school team is here. It's great to see all of them."
Auburn returns to Auburn on Friday to open the Jane B. Moore Memorial Tournament. Bowling Green, South Alabama and Tennessee Tech trek to the Plains to participate in the final nonconference tournament at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers face Bowling Green and South Alabama on Friday in a doubleheader slate. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. ET.