Montgomery, Ala. - The Auburn softball team used a sixth-run rally in the sixth inning to overcome an early deficit and seven errors to defeat the Alabama State Hornets 9-6 Wednesday afternoon.
Auburn improved to 17-5 with the win and will next host the No. 4 Florida Gators in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Alabama State fell to 1-15 with the loss.
"I'm proud of the young leadership on the team that stood up and didn't let this get away from us," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said.
Marcy Harper earned the win in relief to improve to 7-2. Harper allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. Hilary Mavromat started and gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Bailey Patt took the loss in relief to fall to 0-6. Patt allowed five runs, none earned, on five hits with one walk and one strikeout. Melissa Christmann started but did not earn a decision. Christmann allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits with four walks and one strikeout in five innings of work.
Alabama State swarmed the Tigers, pushing four runs across in the bottom of the first inning. Brehanna Rodrigues singled to open the frame and moved into scoring position when catcher McKenzie Kilpatrick threw wildly to first on an attempted pickoff. With one out, Alabama State reeled off three consecutive singles. Meagan Dixon and Stephanie Hernandez each singled, with Hernandez's loading the bases. Aleesa Yanez gave ASU a 1-0 lead with a single up the middle, scoring Rodrigues.Kimberly Ross followed with a fielder's choice, which forced Yanez out at second, but pushed Dixon home for a 2-0 ASU lead. An error gave the Hornets two more runs. Bailey Patt lofted a fly ball to centerfield that Morgan Estell was under, caught and dropped for an error. Hernandez and Ross scored on the play, giving Alabama State a 4-0 lead.
The Tigers cut into the deficit in the top of the second inning. Caitlin Schultze drew a one-out walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Kristyn Richards. A single by Caitlin Jordan put runners on second and first. Richards then took third on a fielder's choice off the bat of Kilpatrick which forced Jordan out at second. A wild pitch to Baylee Stephens brought Richards home to make it a 4-1 game, but ASU would end the rally with a swinging strikeout of Kelsey Bogaards.
Alabama State took advantage of two Auburn errors in the bottom of the second to plate a run. Rodriques reached on a throwing error by Bogaards at shortstop. Tamara Williams followed with a sac bunt that Jordan fielded, but threw wildly to first for Auburn's fifth error of the game. Rodrigues, running on the play, scored easily to make it 5-1.
Brooke Lathan picked up an RBI for the Tigers in the top of the third inning. With Estell (HBP) at third and Branndi Melero (walk) at second, Lathan hit a slow ground out to second that pushed Estell home to make it a 5-2 game. The Hornets, however, would hold the Tigers to one run in the inning.
The Tigers continued to chip away at the deficit in the top of the fourth inning. Consecutive singles by Jordan and Kilpatrick put runners at second and first. After Tiffany Howard was put in to run for Jordan, Baylee Stephens put down a sac bunt to the runners to third and second. Bogaards followed with a ground ball to Rodrigues at shortstop, who fired home in time to get Howard out. Bogaards broke for second on the play and on the throw down, Kilpatrick raced home, sliding in just ahead of the tag to make it a 5-3 game.
Alabama State increased its lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Rodrigues led off with a single and took second on a sac bunt. Dixon then hit a fly ball to shallow center that Estell allowed to hit off the heel of her glove for an error. A single to right by Hernandez plated Rodrigues to give ASU a three-run cushion.
The Tigers rallied in the top of the sixth. After allowing a single to Kilpatrick and a walk to Stephens to open the inning, Christmann was lifted for Patt, who loaded the bases when she walked the first batter she faced, Bogaards. Estell then laced a single to center that scored Kilpatrick to make it a 6-4 game, but Stephens was caught off the bag after advancing to third for the first out of the inning.
With runners at second and first, Patt picked up the second out on a called third strike on Melero. The Tigers loaded the bases when Emily Carosone was hit by a pitch. Lathan then hit what appeared to be an inning-ending ground ball to Brittnei Price at second. Price made a backhanded flip that sailed wide of second base, allowing Bogaards to score to make it a 6-5 game.
Schultze continued the inning with a single to right that plated Estell and Carosone to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead. On the play, right fielder Kimberly Ross misplayed the ball which allowed Lathan to score from first and extend Auburn's lead to 8-6. Jordan followed with a single to left that plated Schultze to give the Tigers a 9-6 lead and cap the rally.Harper took the momentum from the top of the sixth to strikeout the side in the bottom half of the sixth and set the Hornets down in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory.