AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn
(33-20, 12-16 SEC) scored twice in the final three innings Sunday afternoon to squeak
out a 2-1 victory against Mississippi State (33-21, 12-16 SEC) at Jane B. Moore
Field. As a result, MSU clinched the eighth seed in the 2012 SEC Tournament and
will battle No. 1 seed Alabama on the Tide's home field, Rhoads Stadium,
Thursday at 7 p.m. on ESPN in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"Coach Deese did a great job coaching her offense," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "She put them in motion a lot and was able to capitalize on that motion. She worked our defense and made them think, so credit a great Auburn Tiger softball squad and a veteran coach who has been in the league since its inception."
For the fifth time in her career, sophomore third baseman Sam Lenahan tallied three hits in three at-bats, scoring once and recording a double. Fellow sophomore Heidi Shape registered an RBI single, while junior first baseman Shelby Fisher also collected a base hit.
Junior left-handed pitcher Stephanie Becker started the contest and threw 2.2 scoreless innings, finishing her weekend with 8.2 scoreless stanzas. Fellow junior southpaw Kylie Vry fell to 9-7 on the 2012 campaign after yielding two runs on one hit in 3.0 innings of work. Senior Lindsey Dunlap recorded the final out for the Maroon and White pitching staff.
Just like Saturday, both teams failed to score a run until the Bulldogs plated one in the top of the fourth. After two quick outs, Lenahan stepped to the dish and roped a standup double to the wall in center field. With her childhood best friend on second, Shape connected on the barrel, rifling the ball to third. The ball ricocheted off the glove of the third baseman and rolled into left, as Lenahan touched home safely for the 1-0 lead.
Auburn evened things up in the fifth on a solo shot by eight-hole hitter Hilary Mavromat and scored the game-winning run in next inning. Tigers' first baseman Caitlin Jordan drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the sixth. Teammate Kristyn Richards pinch ran for Jordan and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Elizabeth Eisterhold. Following a popup for the first out, Richards sprinted to third on a passed ball. Caitlin Schultze then walked to put runners on the corners.
Before the next at-bat, Vry was replaced by Dunlap in the circle and Maris Medina pinch ran for Schultze. Deese called a double steal, as Medina broke for second and Richards took off for home. MSU's Shape cut off the throw to second from Smith and fired home, but Smith was called for obstruction at the plate to give Auburn the winning run.
Starkville's team enters the postseason as the No. 8 seed in the 2012 SEC Tournament, and will face No. 1 seed Alabama at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The quarterfinal matchup will be broadcast live on ESPN, while free audio streaming will be available through HailStateTV at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive. For more information regarding MSU softball and their postseason push for success, follow the team on Twitter at @MStateSB and like the team at Facebook.com/MStateSB.
SEC TOURNAMENT NOTES
MSU All-Time In SEC Tournament
Overall Record: 11-19
In First Game: 3-8
Vs. Ranked Teams: 2-13
Vs. Alabama: 1-5
In Tuscaloosa: 1-2
On May 10: 3-2
As 8th Seed: 0-3
Vs. 1: 0-2
Vs. 4: 0-1
History vs. Alabama in SEC Tournament
Year Score Location Date MSU's Seed
1998 L 4-5 (9) Columbus, Ga. May 10 4
1999 W 6-3 Columbus, Ga. May 13 6
2000 L 3-4 Columbus, Ga. May 13 5
2005 L 0-5 Gainesville, Fla. May 12 7
2008 L 0-1 Auburn, Ala. May 8 7
2011 L 1-5 Oxford, Miss. May 12 8