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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn softball splits doubleheader in Plainsman Invite

<p>Annabelle Widra(#66) hits softball at Jane B. Moore Field on February 23, 2024.</p>

Annabelle Widra(#66) hits softball at Jane B. Moore Field on February 23, 2024.

Auburn hosted its second doubleheader of the Plainsman Invitational with games against Northern Iowa and Southeast Missouri State on Saturday as the Tigers lost to Northern Iowa 4-2 and run-ruled Southeast Missouri State 13-5.

“We came out flat in game one,” said head coach Mickey Dean. “You can’t expect to win a ball game when you come out flat right out of the gate. We got some good pitches to hit in the second contest. We were able to hit with runners in scoring position. We had a few home runs, and those always help.”

The first couple innings were relatively uneventful for both Auburn and Northern Iowa in the Tigers' first game with neither team scoring a run and each team failing to record a hit. Auburn put two runners on base during that time. However, poor baserunning and strikeouts prevented the Tigers from capitalizing. 

UNI opened up the scoring in the fourth inning with three runs. After a walk, the game’s first hit and a fielding error by Auburn shortstop Nelia Peralta, UNI’s Madison Parks scored the game’s first run. Throwing errors by third baseman Anna Wohlers and catcher Skylar Elkins allowed two more runners to score before the Tigers got out of the inning.

The score remained unchanged until the sixth inning, when Alexis Pupillo hit a solo home run to right field to stretch UNI’s lead to four. Auburn answered, finally getting on the board in the sixth after a hit by Icess Tresvik drove in Abbey Smith who was pinch running for KK McCrary. Another hit by Amelia Lech drove in Tresvik to give the Tigers theirr second run to cut the lead going into the seventh inning. 

Auburn was unable to mount a comeback, however, losing to Northern Iowa 4-2. Auburn recorded six hits in 25 at bats as a team, striking out seven times and leaving a total of four base runners stranded in the game.

Auburn pitcher Maddie Penta, despite the loss, recorded a solid start, allowing only two hits, striking out 10 batters and only giving up one earned run. Auburn's three infield errors and poor offensive outing let down a good start from Penta. 

In Auburn's second game of the day, it took on Southeast Missouri State – looking to bounce back from the loss earlier. The Tigers won by run rule 13-5 with a strong offensive performance. 

Both teams started off the game slow – going three-up, three-down each in the first inning. SEMO then got the scoring started in the second after a couple singles and a bunt brought in the first run of the game. A wild pitch brought home another runner for SEMO to put the Redhawks up 2-0. Auburn later answered with a solo home run by Lech to bring Auburn within one run. 

After a pitching change, Auburn shut out SEMO in the third and subsequently loaded the bases off three walks when the Tigers got up to bat. After an out at home, Auburn took the lead 3-2 after another two walks brought home McCrary and Tresvik. 

Peralta broke the game open when she cleared the bases with a grand slam to put Auburn up 7-2. Mariah Penta followed that up with her own two-run homer – giving the Tigers a monster eight-run inning to go up seven. 

After pitcher Malayna Tamborra gave up three doubles and a walk, SEMO scored three runs in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to four. Auburn responded with three runs of its own after two walks, two hits and savvy baserunning helped maintain its seven-run lead. 

After keeping SEMO scoreless in the fifth, Tresvik reached home off a fielding error to win the game for Auburn via run-rule. Auburn ended the second game with seven hits in 22 at bats, walking eight times and scoring 13 runs. 

Auburn made use of three pitchers, starting the game with Shelby Lowe and ending with Tamborra and Annabelle Widra. Wildra picked up the win for the day.

As a staff, they let up six runs, struck out two batters and allowed five earned runs. With Auburn's bats waking up it did enough to help the Tigers earn a bounce-back win. 

Auburn will wrap up the Plainsman Invite on Sunday as the Tigers take on Northern Iowa in a rematch at 2 p.m. CST at Jane B. Moore Field.

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Luke McClure | Sports Writer

Luke McClure is a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, majoring in sports production. He joined The Plainsman in fall 2023.

Twitter: @lukemcclure0

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