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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn downs South Alabama 6-5 in collective effort

<p>Nate LaRue (#24) catches foul all against SEL batter on March 11th 2023.</p>

Nate LaRue (#24) catches foul all against SEL batter on March 11th 2023.

After an unsuccessful road trip to Arkansas, Auburn hoped to secure a win against South Alabama in Montgomery, Alabama. Auburn claimed a 6-5 win over South Alabama in a collective effort from its veterans and freshmen.  

“It was fun to play in this atmosphere. I love playing in Montgomery,” said fifth-year Kason Howell. “It felt good to get a win tonight.”

After a scoreless two innings, Auburn found some momentum late in the third with Howell leading its offense, but South Alabama found its way onto the scoreboard late in the game. 

In the third inning, Howell hit a home run to left field, sending Brody Wortham and Carter Wright home. This was Howell’s third home run of the season. 

“I’m kind of simplifying things and just trying to get a good pitch to hit, be on time and let the results take care of themself,” Howell said. “That’s really where I’m at right now, and it’s working out. Hopefully, I can just be consistent with it and keep it going.”

The veteran Howell had a great night with two runs, three hits and four RBIs. Following Howell’s lead, graduate transfer Justin Kirby and Wright had one run and two hits each, while Wright added one RBI. 

The Tigers’ freshmen pitchers took the mound first at Riverwalk Stadium and prevented the Jaguars from scoring in the first six innings with Drew Nelson starting on the mound.

“I just like how a young player hangs in there and gets better over five weeks. It’s nice to see growth,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “(Drew Nelson) got us off to a great start. All the way into the seventh, we had all freshmen on the mound and three more out there in the field. We’re growing. We’re still having moments, but that was really good for Drew to get us in the ballgame.”

Making his second start of his career, Nelson had his first collegiate win, recording two strikeouts and allowing no runs with one walk in four innings. Nelson’s strong performance kept South Alabama off the scoreboard for his four innings. 

“I felt good,” Nelson said. “I finally got to extend a little bit, so it felt good to be able to do that and put the team in a position to win… It’s all about being able to adjust. I’ve been able to do just that. I’ve had help from (Coach Thompson) and (Coach Schoenrock) and everybody around, really. It’s gotten me to where I am now. I’m comfortable, and I feel good.”

Hayden Murphy stepped onto the mound in the fifth. The Georgia native recorded no strikeouts and had two earned runs with one walk in two innings.

Sophomore John Armstrong took over for Murphy in the seventh. Armstrong had one strikeout, one walk and three earned runs in two innings. Senior Chase Isbell finished the game and protected the Tigers' lead with one strikeout and no walks or earned runs in the ninth.  

Auburn returns to SEC play on Thursday at 6 p.m. CST with a three-game series against the Georgia Bulldogs at Plainsman Park. 

Caitlyn Griffin | Sports Writer

Caitlyn Griffin is a freshman from Huntsville, Ala. majoring in journalism. She started with The Plainsman in fall 2022. 

Twitter: @caitlyngrif99

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