Kaylee Carlson (above) went the distance for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--Kaylee Carlee didn’t give up an earned run as she went the distance in the circle as Auburn opened its SEC softball series on Friday night with a 4-2 victory over Mississippi State.
Carlson overcame three errors by shortstop Whitney Jordan to improve her record to 23-3 for the season while her team boosted its record to 41-8 overall and 13-6 in the SEC.
Asked about dealing with adversity the junior right-handed pitcher said there was definitely some as her Tigers fell behind 2-0. “It is always a bummer when we get down early,” she said. “I don’t like getting behind.”
Commenting on what was working for her vs. the Bulldogs, “My change-up was definitely key,” Carlson said. “With hitters like this in the SEC you have to keep them off-balance. You can throw it hard and you can throw it up, but without a change-up it is more difficult on the pitcher.”
Coach Clint Myers said he was impressed with Carlson. “When she is in the circle you have a great chance to win. She is a hell of a pitcher.”
Kasey Cooper prepares to tag out a Mississippi State runner trying to steal third base.
The Tigers played without regular starting shortstop Haley Fagan, who is one of three players still suspended. Myers wouldn’t say if Fagan will be back for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game or if pitcher Makayla Martin, another suspended player, will be available on Saturday. Both were in uniform on Friday night.
Jordan, who is filling in at shortstop, committed all three of Auburn’s errors on ground balls. “She is a better athlete,” Myers said. “She played shortstop for us all last year and nobody feels worse about it than she does.”
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second with the help of an error by Jordan, who allowed the leadoff runner to reach base on a ground ball. Two outs later Caroline Seitz hit a fly ball off the left field foul pole for a home run.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs.
Jordan started the rally with a double that hit the left field fence on a bounce. With two outs she moved to third on a bunt single by Draper.
Victoria Draper races to first base for a bunt single, one of her two hits on Friday night.
Kasey Cooper then walked on four straight pitches to load the bases and Carlee Wallace got an RBI the easy way on four straight balls. Alyssa Rivera then got another run home on a slow roller to the third baseman with a lot of spin. An attempt to tag the bag at third base for out three was late.
The Bulldogs avoided further damage when Kendall Veach’s line drive to the shortstop ended the inning.
Auburn took the lead with two runs in the fourth. Courtney Shea started the inning with a single to right field. Walks to Whitney Jordan and Jenna Abbott loaded the bases for speedy Victoria Draper, who reached base on an infield single followed by a bad throw to first base that scored two runs.
Auburn finished the game with just four hits, but Myers wasn't complaining about the hitting because he noted the Tigers hit a lot of pitches very hard. He also liked the Tigers' effort. “There was pretty good energy in the dugout and there was great energy in the stands,” the coach said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Carlson’s pitching made that advantage hold up vs. the Bulldogs, who fell to 34-16 overall and 8-11 in the SEC.