Auburn softball suffers 5-2 loss to North Dakota State
From the Auburn University Athletics Department:
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Auburn struggled at the plate Friday afternoon in its NCAA Regional opener against North Dakota State, falling 5-2 to drop to the loser's bracket of the Minneapolis Regional. The Tigers will play the losers of the Minnesota/Green Bay matchup on Saturday at 4 p.m. and will need to win out the weekend to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals.
"We didn't play as well as we could and North Dakota State played well," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "They outplayed us and the result is what it is. We don't make any excuses. We have to play better in order to win."
The Tigers struggled to put the ball in play against North Dakota State's starting pitcher, Krista Menke, scattering only four hits and pushing across only the two runs.
One big run came off the bat of redshirt junior Morgan Estell, as she hit her sixth home run of the year back in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Estell finished the game with only the one hit along with two walks.
The Bison had the long ball working for them on Friday, notching two home runs off Auburn pitcher Lexi Davis. One inning after Estell gave the lead for the Tigers, the Bison tied it up at 2-2 on a solo home run by Maritza Lopez-Portillo in the fifth. It was Lopez-Portillo's fifth home run of the year and sailed well over the deep left field wall to take away any momentum that Auburn had with its slim lead.
Auburn had a chance to break the game wide open in the bottom of the fifth when it tallied two lead-off singles from sophomore Emily Carosone and freshman Kasey Cooper and later loaded the bases with a one-out walk by Estell. However, Auburn, again, couldn't get the ball on the ground and left the bases jammed and the score 2-2. Cooper finished the game 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI.
The Tigers left seven runners on base during the game, five coming in the fourth and fifth innings with it still a one-run game.
"We had people in scoring position several times," Myers said. "We simply couldn't get a ground ball. Do we have to do better at that? Do we have to do more than just talk about it? You bet. That's the plan for us tomorrow."
The game broke open the way Auburn didn't want in the sixth when North Dakota State hit their second home run of the game, a three-run homer by Amanda Grable to take a 5-2 lead.
Auburn tried to make a valiant comeback in the bottom of the seventh getting two two-out walks, but it was no good as Menke finished the complete game for the victory.
The Tigers will now play in the loser's bracket of the Minneapolis Regional and will find out their opponent at the conclusion of the Minnesota/Green Bay game occurring later today. Auburn will need to win four-straight games to advance out of regionals and into the supers. Tomorrow's game with the opponent to be named later is set for 4 p.m. at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium in Minneapolis.
"You just have to play a lot of softball… a lot of softball," Myers said. "You have to play two tomorrow and two on Sunday. The great thing about it is if you win two on Saturday and two on Sunday, you get to play the following weekend. It has been done many, many times. Can we do it? We have the capability to do it without question. I don't think there is a single person with Auburn across their chests that doesn't think we can do it. Now, we just have to do it. We can't just talk about it. There are no excuses, actions right now. That is what we are after."