AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn's softball team was named the Plainsman Invite champion Sunday after splitting two games on the final day of the tournament. The Tigers suffered their first loss of the year at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 3-2 in eight innings, but bounced back with an 8-4 victory over Tennessee Tech, its fourth of the young season.
"The big thing for us was that Notre Dame game," assistant coach Corey Myers said. "Those teams are going to be big games, but we stayed close. All you can ask for is a chance to win those games. That is what we have been preaching to the girls, to stay close. At the end of the game we had a chance with the bases loaded, we just did not get the hit. Next time we play them, we get that hit and that hit falls it is a different outcome."
Against Notre Dame, Auburn led 2-0 in the third inning after solo home runs by sophomores Austyn West and Emily Carosone to take a 2-0 lead after the third inning. But, The Irish came back with a solo homer of their own from Emilee Koerner in the fourth and evened it up with an RBI double, again from Koerner, in the sixth.
No more runs crossed the plate through the seventh and the game was sent to extra innings. With the international tiebreaker rules, Notre Dame was able to advance Carly Piccinich from second on a fielder's choice and a wild pitch from Auburn starter Lexi Davis to take the one-run lead.
In Auburn's half of the eighth, sophomore Tiffany Howard was placed on second. She advanced to third on a fly ball to centerfield but went no further.
Davis still had a solid outing, going all eight innings and giving up two earned runs with four strikeouts. Through the first weekend of the season, Davis already has two wins with 11 strikeouts
In the second game, Auburn, again, jumped out the 2-0 lead, getting an RBI double from junior McKenzie Kilpatrick and a sacrifice fly from sophomore Kelsey Bogaards. But Tech cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth. The Tigers answered after getting two quick hits to start the bottom of the fourth and playing small ball to advance the runners around and score senior Maris Medina on a sacrifice fly from Carosone.
Auburn put the game away for good in the fifth and sixth innings, benefitting from solo home runs by Kilpatrick, freshman Kasey Cooper and redshirt junior Morgan Estell. Junior Branndi Melero smashed her third home run of the year in the sixth.
Sophomore Marcy Harper also went the distance, going seven innings and giving up four earned runs on five hits for her second win of the season.
Auburn returns to the field next Friday for its second tournament of early season, The Tiger Invitational, at Jane B. Moore Field. It will face Marshall and Loyola on Friday, Feb. 14 with first pitch against Marshall set for 5:30 p.m. The game with Loyola is schedule for a 7:30 p.m. start.
The Auburn games can be heard locally on WEGL 91.1 or online at AuburnTigers.com. Live video and live stats will also be available on AuburnTigers.com throughout the weekend for all games.