COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Emma Barnes two-out RBI single in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference as Louisiana Tech defeated Auburn 1-0 in a classic pitchers duel in the first game of the College Station Regional Friday afternoon. Barnes lined a 1-2 pitch up the middle and into centerfield off Auburn's Anna Thompson, scoring pinch runner Sarah Offutt from third base and snapping the scoreless tie.
"Emma didn't let her lack of success in her earlier at bats affect her," said Tech head coach Sarah Dawson. "She took the positives out of them and kept that with her. That positive attitude paid off when we needed her the most."
Barnes, who struggled during the WAC Tournament last week in Honolulu, recorded outs in her first three at bats but came up with a single in the eighth and then the game-winner in the 12th. "I was just trying to put the ball in play," Barnes said. "Our confidence is high, and we are just riding on cloud nine. We aren't trying to prove anything to anybody. We aren't worried about pressure because the pressure is on everyone else. We are just having fun."
Freshman Wanda Malone allowed a leadoff double to Auburn's Alicia Hunolt in the bottom of the 12th but then retired the next three batters, including Tigers leftfielder Brittany Scott on a pop up to second base to end the game.
The 12-inning affair was the longest of the season for Tech and the extra inning win was the third in the past two weeks. It was also the fifth straight one-run win by the Lady Techsters, who are now 1-3 all-time against the Tigers.
Junior hurler Krissi Oliver got the start in the circle for Tech and held Auburn scoreless, working 9.0 innings while scattering seven hits and one walk and striking out four.
"I came out with a lot of confidence," Oliver said. "I just tried to hit my spots and work the batters."
Oliver worked out of a couple of jams in the game and was the recipient of an outstanding throw by leftfielder Danielle Sheridan in the bottom of the third inning nailing Star Dorsey at home and preserving the scoreless tie.
Both teams had few opportunities to score throughout the contest. Auburn loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Oliver induced a harmless groundout to second base by Tiger catcher Tatiana Fernandez to end the threat.
Tech started the top of the 12th inning off with a line drive single by Jessica Kirby to leftfield, snapping a 0-for-16 slump by the first team all-Western Athletic Conference honoree.
Offutt pinch ran and was sacrificed to second base by Summer Young and then reached third on a passed ball by Fernandez. However, with a runner on third and one out, freshman Heather Doiron struck out swinging setting the stage for Barnes heroics.
Malone (2-0) picked up the win in relief, allowing two hits in 3.0 innings of work while striking out one.
"Wanda did a good job," Dawson said. "It was another tough call because we wanted Krissi out there as long as possible, but I think we made the right decision at the right time. Wanda did what she needed to do."
Thompson (12-12) picked up the loss in relief, allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out 12.
"I was proud of the way we played and proud of the way we prepared," said Auburn head coach Tina Deese. "I'm extremely disappointed in the loss. We outhit Louisiana Tech, but we didn't get it done when it counted. They were better than us today. They got bunts down when they needed to, got the base hit when they needed it, and that was the difference in the game."
Tech advances to Saturday's noon contest against the winner of Texas A&M and Stephen F. Austin. The game will be aired live on ESPN 97.7 FM and www.espn977.com.
A win by Tech Saturday would advance it to Sunday's championship round while a loss would push it into a 5 p.m. Saturday contest.