After a 5-0 record in the Tiger Invite last weekend, Auburn faced off against in-state adversary Troy to kick off the Auburn Invitational on Thursday night. Behind an eight-run outing and another strong pitching performance from Auburn’s freshman duo, the Tigers defeated Troy 8-1.
“I’d say whole team-wise, absolutely,” said head coach Mickey Dean on if this was one of Auburn’s better games. “Everybody got to contribute and not by just being a good teammate, but by actually getting into the game and contributing in the game. The people we rolled in did a great job.”
Makenna Dowell had a team-high three RBI in the win while crushing her first home run of the season. The Tigers tied a season-high in runs scored while getting 11 hits from nine different players.
“I think everyone really came together in this game,” Dowell said. “We had people off the bench come in and do their job. It’s really awesome to see all of us work together offensively.”
Fresh off her second no-hitter of the season and a 17 strikeout performance, Maddie Penta was back in the circle for the Tigers.
Troy's back-to-back base hits to start the game put some pressure on Penta early. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with one out, the freshman struck out the next two batters to end the scoring threat.
In the top of the third, Penta allowed just her fifth run of the season on Kelly Horne’s home run to left field.
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The solo blast put the Trojans on the board first, giving them a 1-0 lead. It didn’t last long as Auburn answered in the bottom frame of the inning.
Tyler King lined a one-out triple down the right-field line, bringing Makenna Dowell to the plate for the Tigers' first scoring opportunity. On a full-count pitch, Dowell gave the Tigers the lead with one swing of the bat, sending one over the right-field fence for her first home run of the season.
“[Troy’s Brianna Bailey] got me out on a change up the first at-bat,” Dowell said. “I knew it was coming again, so I was ready for it.”
The two-run shot gave Auburn a 2-1 lead.
Penta gave up back-to-back singles to start the fourth, and a stolen base later saw the Trojans with runners on second and third. The freshman was able to force the first two outs, but with a handful of lefties coming up, Dean made the call to the bullpen.
Penta finished the day with five strikeouts, allowing five hits and just one run.
Dean brought in another freshman phenom, Shelby Lowe, to get the final out of the fourth. Lowe forced a groundout which ended the scoring threat, and sent the game to the bottom of the fourth.
“[Troy] had the top of their lineup coming up with runners on,” Dean said. “You got Shelby in the bullpen. With all those lefties in a row, to leave Shelby in the bullpen, it made no sense.”
In the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers added two more runs.
Alyssa Rivera scored off Justus Perry’s infield single, and Dowell batted in her third run of the game off a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 4-1.
“We did have a bunch of good hits tonight,” Lowe said. “It’s a lot easier to throw when you have runs behind you.”
Lowe finished out the game in the circle for the Tigers, not allowing a hit the rest of the way. The freshman was the winning pitcher, striking out seven over her 3.1 innings of work.
“[Penta] was obviously getting hit,” Lowe said. “So it’s my job to pick her up and be able to go out there and win the game.”
In the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers pushed four runs across.
The first run scored when Paige Geraghty stole home on a double steal, moving Perry to second on the throw. It wasn’t long until Perry scored off Bryant’s double down the left-field line. Freshman Sydney Cox and sophomore Maddie Majors almost had their first-career home runs in back-to-back at-bats.
Both players had doubles bounce off the top of the wall, a mere foot or two from going over. Regardless, each hit scored a run pushing the lead to the eventual final, 8-1.
Auburn is back in action on Friday when they face Southern Mississippi in a doubleheader. Game one is set for 2:30 p.m. CST from Jane B. Moore Field. The game will air on SEC Network-plus.
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