Murfreesboro, Tenn. - Kelsey Bogaards drove in a pair of runs while Marcy Harper earned her 10th win of the season as the Auburn softball team defeated Middle Tennessee 6-2 Wednesday afternoon in a game that featured sustained winds of 18 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
Auburn improved to 20-7 with the win. Middle Tennessee dropped to 1-20. The Tigers return home to host the Georgia Bulldogs in a weekend series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
"We got some big hits from the top and bottom half of our lineup today," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "I thought for the most part we handled the wind well, it was certainly playing havoc with the pop-ups and fly balls. I thought Marcy did a good job in the circle. Now we have to go back to work and get ready for a really good Georgia team this weekend."
Marcy Harper improved to 10-2 with the complete-game effort. Harper allowed two runs, both earned, on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Jordyn Fisherback started and took the loss to fall to 1-10. Fisherback allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings of work. Shelby Stinnett allowed three runs, one earned, on three walks without recording an out in the sixth inning.The Blue Raiders mounted the first scoring threat when Samantha Nieves opened the bottom half of the second with a double to center. After a sacrifice bunt moved Nieves to third, LaRi Mitchell put down a bunt that second baseman Brooke Lathan fielded and fired to Caitlin Schultze at home who put the tag on Nieves before she crossed the plate.
Middle Tennessee returned the favor in the top of the third as the Tigers put two on with one out. Baylee Stephens drew a one-out walk and took second on a single by Morgan Estell. After a strikeout, Branndi Melero singled to center and Stephens was waived home, but centerfielder Nina Dever fired a strike to catcher Laure Dukes who tagged Stephens for the third out.
The Tigers took advantage of a Middle Tennessee error to plate the first run of the day. Emily Carosone opened the fourth with a double to left. Caitlin Schultze put down a sacrifice bunt that third baseman Kristi Marquez fielded, but threw wildly to first. Carosone scored on the play while Schultze advanced to second.
Lathan followed Schultze with a single through the left side, moving Schultze to third. Lathan took second on the throw. MTSU picked up the first out when Caitlin Jordan hit a chopper to Nieves at shortstop. Nieves fired home in time to get Schultze at the plate.
Jade Rhodes was put in to run for Jordan and quickly stole second. Kelsey Bogaards then hit a ground ball to Nieves at short who fired home in time for the out on Lathan. On the play, Bogaards broke for second. Dukes fired to second base, allowing Rhodes to score to give Auburn a 2-0 lead. Bogaards was tagged out in a rundown, however, to end the inning.
Auburn added to its lead in the top of the fifth. Estell tripled to left with one out and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Tiffany Howard, making it a 3-0 game.
Schultze led off the sixth with a walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Kristyn Richards. Lathan reached on a fielding error by Marquez at third, which also allowed Richards to advance to second. Stinnett was then put in for Fisherback. A walk to Jordan loaded the bases with no outs. The third walk of the inning, this time to Bogaards, forced Richards home for a 4-0 Auburn lead.
Fisherback re-entered the game for Stinnett following the walk to Bogaards and picked up the first out when she caught Stephens' soft line drive. Another walk, this time to Estell scored Lathan to give Auburn a 5-0 lead. The Tigers would plate another run when Jordan scored on a dropped fly ball by Nina Davenport in left, which would cap the scoring for the inning.
Middle Tennessee ended the shutout bid with a one-out, two-run home run from Nieves in the bottom of the sixth. It was Nieves' first home run of the season and it came after a double to right by Dukes.Despite putting the leadoff batter on in the bottom of the seventh, Middle Tennessee was unable to mount a rally as Harper retired the next three MTSU hitters to end the game.