Auburn, Ala. – The Auburn softball team got a no-hitter from pitcher Angel Bunner to defeat Virginia Tech 1-0 and then scored 10 runs with two outs in a 12-5 win over No. 23 Georgia Tech to complete a perfect weekend at the SEC/ACC/Big 12 Challenge.
Auburn improved to 8-0 with the two wins Sunday. Virginia Tech's record fell to 7-3 and Georgia Tech's moved to 7-3 with the losses. The Tigers went 3-0 in the SEC/ACC/Big 12 Challenge after defeating No. 15 Oklahoma State 8-0 on Friday.
"I am really proud of the way we played today and this weekend," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "We hit the ball extremely well today against Georgia Tech. We stayed aggressive from start to finish and did a great job responding when Georgia Tech scored and then took the lead again. Lauren Schmalz did a nice job preventing them from rallying after we took the lead for good."
Against Georgia Tech, Morgan Estell drove in a career-high five runs while Baylee Stephens drove in a career high three runs as the Tigers overcame two deficits to cruise to a 12-5 win.
Lauren Schmalz improved to 4-0, earning the win in relief. Schmalz held Tech scoreless, allowing just two hits and two walks in three and two-thirds innings. Jenee Loree started and went three and one-third innings, allowing five runs, all earned, on four hits with two walks, two hit-by-pitches and two strikeouts.
Hope Rush started and took the loss for Georgia Tech to fall to 3-2. Rush allowed eight runs, all earned, on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Caroline Hilton gave Georgia Tech a 2-0 lead in the top of the second with a one-out, two-run home run that hit off the top of the scoreboard in left field. Hilton's home run came on a 3-1 pitch and was her first home run of the season. The homer came with Kate Kuzma aboard, who reached on a hit-by-pitch.
The Tigers answered in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Baylee Stephens was hit on the leg on a 1-2 pitch which forced home Branndi Melero (single) to make it a 2-1 game. Morgan Estell followed with a double to left on the first pitch of the at-bat that cleared the bases scoring Brooke Lathan (single), Caitlin Schultze (walk) and Stephens to give Auburn a 4-2 lead.
Georgia Tech regained the lead in the top of the fourth when pinch-hitter Daniel Dike cranked a three-run home run to left. Dike's homer came with one out and Kuzma (walk) and Chelsie Thomas (single) aboard. Dike's home run chased Loree from the game and brought in Schmalz.
Auburn answered once again, putting up four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take an 8-5 lead. With two on, two outs and a 1-2 count, Stephens went opposite field with a single through the right side to score pinch-runner Maris Medina and Lathan (single). With Stephens at first and two runs in, Estell took the first pitch of her at-bat over the wall in left for a two-run home run.
Melero gave Auburn a 9-5 lead with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the fifth. The homer was Melero's first of the season and cleared the wall in right-center. Lathan made it back-to-back homers to right-center when she cranked a 2-1 pitch over the wall for a 10-5 lead. It was Lathan's first home run of the season.
Still in the fifth, Schultze reached on an error and stole second to move into scoring position. With two outs, Lauren Guzman laced a single to left-center that scored Shultze and gave the Tigers an 11-5 lead.
The Tigers tacked on a run in the sixth, again with two outs. Melero drew a two-out walk and moved to third when Lathan's ground ball to short was booted and rolled into center. On the next pitch, Lathan stole second and Melero stole home on the throw down. Melero's run made it the final of 12-5.
Against Virginia Tech, Auburn pitcher Angel Bunner threw her first-career no-hitter as the Tigers blanked the Hokies 1-0. Bunner faced 23 batters, two over the minimum, with one walk and one batter reaching via an error.
Bunner improved to 2-0 on the season and struck out a season-high seven batters. Bunner retired the first seven batters of the game, striking out four, before Kat Banks reached on a one-out error in the top of the third inning. Banks was gunned down by catcher Elizabeth Eisterhold and Bunner fanned Bkaye Smith to end the inning having faced the minimum through three complete innings.
Lauren Gaskill opened the top of the fourth by reaching on a throwing error by Eisterhold, who fielded Gaskill's bunt cleanly but threw high to first. Dani Anderson followed with a walk to move Gaskill to second. After a fly out to left and a strikeout, Bunner ended the only Hokies' scoring threat by forcing Kelsey Mericka into a fielder's choice, with Anderson out at second.
After both pitchers dominated the first three and half innings, the Tigers were able to push across a run in the bottom of the fourth. Lauren Guzman laced a one-out single past the shortstop for the first hit of the game and the stole second. A ground out to second by Caitlin Jordan moved Guzman to third with two outs.
Eisterhold hit a slow roller down the third base line that Kelsey Mericka did not field, thinking the ball would roll foul. The ball stayed fair, allowing Eisterhold to reach first and Guzman to score for a 1-0 Auburn lead.
That would be the only run of the game for either team. Bunner shut the Hokies out over the final three innings, allowing just one ball to be batted out of the infield. Six of the final nine outs were ground outs with the last out of the game coming on a soft pop up to Guzman at shortstop.