From Auburn Media Relations;
Auburn, Ala. - The Auburn softball team was unable to cap a seventh-inning rally, leaving the tying run on base in a 3-1 loss to Mississippi State in the series opener Friday night at Jane B. Moore Field.
Auburn dropped to 31-20 overall and 10-16 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State improved to 33-19 overall and 12-14 in the SEC. The teams continue their series with a 1 p.m. CT game Saturday.
"Mississippi State came out ready to play and played with energy all the way through the game," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "We didn't really show up until the seventh inning. We need to take the positives from that inning and take into tomorrow's game."
Jenee Loree took the loss to fall to 11-8 in a complete-game effort. Loree allowed three runs, all earned, on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Stephanie Becker started and earned the win to improve to 18-10. Becker allowed just one hit with one walk and one strikeout in five innings of work. Lindsey Dunlap earned her second save of the season, recording the final two outs of the game after entering with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Brittany Bell led off with a single to center and took second on a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, Sam Lenahan hit a slow roller to Caitlin Jordan half way down the first base line. Jordan turned and fired to Brooke Lathan covering first, but the throw was late. Bell raced home from second on the play, scoring without a throw home.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-0 with a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the third inning. After Bell reached on a one-out double, Loree fanned Jessica Cooley for the second out of the inning. But on a 2-2 pitch, Kaili Smith drilled a homer over the wall in center. It was Smith's fifth home run of the season and it gave Mississippi State a three run lead.
The Tigers had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Kristyn Richards reached on a fielding error by the second baseman. Jordan followed with a double off the wall in left that moved Richards to third. Baylee Stephens chopped a ground ball to Erin Nesbit at short, who fired home to nail Richards for the second out of the inning. With runners on the corners, Branndi Melero struck out swinging to end the scoring threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jordan laced a one-out single to left and took second when the left fielder booted the ball as she attempted to pick it up. Stephens was then hit by the first pitch of her at-bat to put runners at second and first with one out.
Melero then took ball four on a 3-1 pitch to load the bases. The walk chased Kylie Vry from the game, after she entered in the sixth inning in relief of Becker.
Lauren Guzman plated the first run of the game for Auburn with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Jordan, to cut the deficit to 3-1. With runners on the corners and two outs, a wild pitch to Harrison moved Melero from first to second. Dunlap, however, ended the Tigers' rally when she fanned Harrison on a swinging third strike to end the game.