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Monday, Oct 2, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Auburn smashes Cal State Fullerton in first regional game

<p>Bri Ellis (#77) at bat against NDSU on February 26th 2023</p>

Bri Ellis (#77) at bat against NDSU on February 26th 2023

Auburn returned to the place where its 2022 season ended and took the first game of the 2023 NCAA Regionals, defeating the Cal State Fullerton Titans, 12-2. This was the fourth all-time meeting between these two programs. Their last meeting was in 2015, which the Titans won, 3-2. This game would be much different than their last meeting over eight years ago.

Auburn was able to get out to a hot start, thanks in part to the bats of KK McCrary and Lindsey Garcia. With two outs, they were able to get two RBIs for Auburn. This first-inning lead was all Auburn needed as it never trailed.

Maddie Penta did not have her best performance in last week's SEC Tournament. However, she looked like her normal self against the Titans, as she only allowed three hits and one earned run. 

Cal State Fullerton's pitcher was Myka Sutherlin, whose ERA was 1.34 with 227 strikeouts on the year and a 19-9 record. The Titans were no fluke this year, with a 33-19-1 record including notable wins over Florida, Tennessee and Oregon. But on Friday, Auburn was able to put up a number of runs on her early in the game. Sutherlin's day ended in the bottom of the third.

Cal State Fullerton didn't quit, as the Titans were able to get a run back on the board at the top of the second.

Bri Ellis had other plans, as she sent a ball into the nearby lake for a grand slam, giving Auburn a comfortable 6-1 lead, however, it was only the bottom of the second inning. The Titans still had plenty of time to come back and upset the Tigers. 

The Titans were able to make opportunities, but the experience of Auburn's team was able to help them out of any potential big-run moments. Auburn didn't have another big moment but was solid and consistent throughout the rest of the game.

Cal State Fullerton began to decline once Sutherlin was pulled, as they went through three more pitchers in the span of just an inning and a half. Auburn began to pour it on in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs to put the score at 12-2. This was too much for the Big West runner-up, as the Titans were not able to rally back from such a large deficit and extend the game. 

The Titans' pitching collapsed and the offense was unable to get anything going. What started as a competitive matchup became a runaway train. Auburn was able to put it on cruise control from there and was able to secure to rematch they had been waiting for since last year.

It will be nearly a year to the date that Auburn came into Clemson and lost a heartbreaker, 1-0. Auburn will look for its revenge against the team that helped to put them out of the 2022 tournament. The Tigers get the chance to do so in the same building as before, McWhorter Stadium. This season, Clemson posted an impressive 47-9 record. 

The win put Auburn at 41-17 on the season — officially a game higher than last year's 40-win total. Auburn will play Clemson tomorrow at 11 a.m. CST. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

TP Hammock | Sports Writer

TP is a junior from Montgomery, Ala., majoring in journalism. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.

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