AUBURN, Ala. - Behind a one-hit effort in the circle from junior Maddie Penta, No. 17 Auburn softball (39-16, 15-9 SEC) shut out Mississippi State (28-24, 7-16 SEC) for a 3-0 victory Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field, ending the regular season with four straight SEC series wins.
"It's always good to end the regular season on a high note, especially in a big game," head coach Mickey Dean said. "We know that we're playing for a lot at stake on championship Sundays. We did a nice job all around and scored enough runs to get the win."
After performing the national anthem, Penta allowed a single to lead off the game, but that was the lone base hit for the Tiger ace. It was Penta's second one-hit effort in conference play this season. Penta's only other base runners all reached via walks. She closed the game retiring 10 straight Bulldogs. Penta struck out eight in the appearance and improved to 25-5.
"The national anthem definitely got my nerves worked up more than pitching did," Penta said. "It was the biggest audience I have ever sung for. I was nervous, but really excited to do something I love for our seniors on their day."
The shutout effort was Penta's sixth in conference play, tying the program record set by Kristen Keyes in 2004. Her 12 wins in league action are tied for the second most recorded by a Tiger in an SEC season. Penta will enter the postseason with 279 strikeouts and is on pace to become just the second Tiger in school history to record 300 in a single season.
Continuing her hot streak against the Bulldogs with a 2-for-2 effort at the plate. Nelia Peralta and Lindsey Garcia delivered the offense with a pair of home runs.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third, Peralta lined a ball that ricocheted off State's centerfielder and over the fence for her ninth home run of the season. Garcia added a two-run blast in the fourth, scoring fellow senior Carlee McCondichie.
"I was trying to get a pitch to drive, and I did," Peralta said. "Credit to the centerfielder because she made a nice play on it, but I'm glad it got over."
Clinching a bye into Thursday's quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament, Auburn will await final seedings and matchups, which will be announced Sunday afternoon with the conclusion on the regular season slate.
"We're going into the postseason trusting ourselves," Garcia said. "We know what we're capable of. We know how good we are. We're staying calm, cool and collected and playing each game like it's our first game of a new season."