Carlee Wallace (above) celebrates after scoring the go-ahead run in the fourth inning.
Auburn, Ala.--Makayla Martin threw a complete game with a cut on her pitching hand and catcher Carlee Wallace led Auburn to a 5-4 SEC softball victory on Saturday night to even the series at 1-1 vs. Missouri.
The seventh-ranked Auburn team will go for the series win on Sunday with a 2 p.m. start in a contest that will be televised on ESPN.
Martin, a sophomore right-hander, allowed six hits and two earned runs on the way to improving her record to 15-5. Martin tried pitching with a band-aid, but when that didn’t work several applications of a liquid bandage were applied to allow her to throw without bleeding.
Wallace said she liked what she saw from Martin. “She was much better,” Wallace said. “I think her confidence wavered a little bit throughout the season, but I think it is back and she is better than ever. She is ready to fight again.
“She is just such a trooper because that umpire (home plate umpire Scott Thomas) was kind of interesting at times,” Wallace said of the ball and strike calls. “She took it like a champ and just kept pressing, and gave us a chance to win the game.”
Makayla Martin blows on her thumb to help her liquid bandage dry.
Missouri took a 2-0 lead without the help of a hit in the second inning with a leadoff walk and a fielder’s choice when Kasey Cooper’s throw to second base trying for a force play was late. With two outs a pair of runs scored when Kendall Veach dropped a perfectly thrown ball by Wallace allowing runners to score from third base and second base.
Missouri added another run in the fourth inning on two hits, including an RBI triple on a ball that glanced off Kasey Cooper’s glove at third base.
Auburn answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Carmyn Greenwood started the rally with a line drive single and Courtney Shea followed with a ground ball single up the middle off the shortstop.
Pinch-hitter Jenna Abbott walked to load the bases and then pinch-hitter Justus Perry popped up to third base for one out. That set the stage for Carlee Wallace to clear the bases with a line drive triple to right field to tie the game.
Jenna Abbott (left) is congratulated by Victoria Draper and Carlee Wallace (right) after drawing a pinch-hit walk.
“I had been seeing it good,” Wallace said of her trips to the plate. “I squared up every ball I hit last night so I knew they weren’t going to put anything by me. There is nothing that I can’t hit, nothing that I haven’t seen, so I was just trying to stay relaxed.”
It didn’t take long for Wallace to score as she raced home on a wild pitch to make the score 4-3.
Auburn added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Draper started the inning by reaching first on ground ball to shortstop that was misplayed for an error. She scored on a single to left field by Haley Fagan, but the Tigers left the bases loaded for a total of 10 runners stranded in the game.
There was late drama as Martin walked the opening two batters in the top of the seventh inning and faced the bases loaded with two outs after intentionally walking Missouri’s top home run threat with runners on second and third.
Chloe Rathbun hit a ground ball to shortstop and was ruled safe at first base scoring a run, but Veach noticed the runner that had been on second base was between third and home. The Tigers got her in a rundown and tag-out play to end the game.
Coach Clint Myers said he was impressed with Martin’s performance. “That’s Makayla,” he said. “That is the girl who pitched in the College World Series. That is the girl that goes out and competes and the scary thing is she can get still get better. She had a little cut on her thumb and that kind of hampered her a little bit, but that is the kind of girl she is--she is not coming out. She went out there and battled all night long.”
Auburn improved to 35-7 overall and 9-5 in the SEC. Missouri is 24-17 overall and 5-8 in the game.
AU finished with nine hits off four Missouri pitchers. Myers said despite the improved night at the plate compared to Friday’s loss that his squad can take it to a higher level. “I have been doing this a long time and I know we are a hell of a lot better than the way we are playing. That is the scary part. We are still winning, but we are not winning the way we are capable of winning.”