Auburn Softball splits with LSU

Baton Rouge, La.  –  Auburn pitcher Angel Bunner tossed a one-hit shutout to lead No. 20/19 Auburn softball to a 2-0 game two win and a double-header split with LSU. Auburn lost game one 4-1.

Auburn improved to 22-4 overall and moved to 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU's record dropped to 16-8 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.

"Angel did a great job for us tonight," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "She did a great job against their hitters, especially after they won the first game and had some momentum. Obviously we would have liked to come out of here with a sweep, but LSU is a good team and this is a tough place to play."

In game two, Bunner threw her fifth shutout and her third one-hitter of the season in a 2-0 victory. Bunner improved to 9-0 with the win. Bunner walked two and struck out two.

Rachele Fico took the loss, falling to 7-4. Fico went the distance, allowing two runs, both earned, on six hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.

Pitching dominated the game. Bunner entered the game with a 0.85 ERA while Fico brought a 0.53 ERA into the game.

In a repeat of game one, Auburn put the first two batters of the game on base. Lauren Guzman singled and took second on a throwing error by Fico on a fielder's choice ground ball from Lathan. With Guzman at second and Lathan at first, Fico registered three consecutive outs to leave the runners stranded.

In the top of the third, Branndi Melero capped a 14-pitch at-bat with a single down the right field line and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Guzman. Fico was able to work out of the jam with a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the inning.

Bunner was equally as tough, retiring the side in order in the first and third innings. Bunner would strand a runner on base in the second inning and a pair of runners in the fourth inning.

Entering the sixth inning, Fico had retired nine straight Auburn hitters. Guzman broke that string with a single in the hole at shortstop. Lathan then reached on a fielder's choice that did not result in an out as Guzman beat the throw to second. Elizabeth Eisterhold put down a bunt that LSU chose to let roll foul, which it did not, resulting in a bunt single that loaded the bases with no outs.

Fico picked up the first out on a swinging strike three of Caitlin Jordan. On a 1-0 pitch, Amber Harrison hit a ground ball single that bounced off the third baseman's glove as she dove for the ball and into the hole at short, scoring Guzman and Lathan for a 2-0 Auburn lead. Fico would hold Auburn to two runs, however, as she struck out Caitlin Schultze and forced Baylee Stephens to fly out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Bunner fanned pinch-hitter Cassie Trosclair for the first out and forced McCasland to ground out to Schultze at third for the second out. Bunner ended the game, needing just six pitches in the seventh inning, when Morgan Russell grounded out to Schultze.

In game one, LSU broke open a one-run game with a three-run fifth inning to come away with a 4-1 win over Auburn.

Lauren Schmalz started and took the loss to fall to 6-3. Schmalz allowed four runs, all earned, on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings. Angel Bunner relieved Schmalz in the fifth and threw the final one and one-third innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.

Brittany Mack improved to 7-4 with the complete-game effort. Mack allowed one run, earned, on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings.

LSU jumped on top in the bottom of the first inning. Ashley Applegate reached on a leadoff single and moved to second on a one-out walk to Ashley Langoni. On a 2-2 pitch, Juliana Santos singled through the right side to score Applegate and give LSU a 1-0 lead.

Through the four innings of play, Mack had the Tigers stymied. Auburn put runners at second and third with no outs in the top of the first inning, but Mack retired three consecutive batters to leave the runners stranded. Auburn put the leadoff hitter on in the top of the second inning when Baylee Stephens reached on an error, but were unable to manufacture a run.

LSU broke the game open with a string of two-out RBI's in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, A.J. Andrews dribbled a ball down the first base line and was able to beat out the throw for an infield single. After Andrews stole second, Allison Falcon blooped a two-out single into right field that scored Andrews.

Langoni made it 3-0 with a sharp double to center that scored Falcon. Bunner relieved Schmalz and moved Langoni to third on an illegal pitch. Santos then took a 2-0 pitch back up the middle for a single to score Langoni and push the LSU lead to 4-0.

Elizabeth Eisterhold put Auburn on the board with a one-out, solo home run to center in the top of the sixth inning to make it a 4-1 game. Eisterhold's homer was her eighth of the season and the 30th of her career.

Mack closed the door on the Tigers in the top of the seventh to clinch the game one victory for LSU.