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No. 20 Tech Falls To Auburn 12-5 In ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge Finale

Feb. 19, 2012

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AUBURN, Ala. – In a slugfest, Auburn came out the victor as the No. 20 Georgia Tech Softball team fell to its SEC foe 12-5 in the final game of the ACC/SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Tech held a 5-4 lead after three and a half innings but let up eight unanswered runs in the loss.

Hope Rush earns the loss for Tech (7-3), pitching 3.2 innings for the Yellow Jackets allowing eight earned runs, all coming with two outs, and striking out two. Lauren Schmalz earns the win for Auburn who remained perfect on the year improving to 8-0.

Tech jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a rocket shot to the scoreboard by Caroline Hilton in the second inning. On a 3-1 count, Hilton just got a hold of one hanging over the plate and sent the ball flying to drive in both herself, and Kate Kuzma who was hit by a pitch one batter earlier.

Auburn earned their first lead of the game at the bottom half of the frame. With two outs on the board, Auburn recorded back-to-back hits and loaded the bases on a walk. Branndi Melero, who was on third, came across the plate after Rush hit Baylee Stephens and one batter later, Morgan Estell ripped a double down the leftfield line which cleared the bases and gave Auburn a 4-2 lead.

Tech regained the lead in the top of the fourth as Danielle Dike had yet another clutch hit for Tech blasting a pinch hit three-run homerun off of the scoreboard. It was the first homer of the season for Dike who almost went yard on Friday against Alabama, and gave Tech the 5-4 lead. Tech would load the bases later in the inning, but couldn’t get any more across as it was 5-4 after three and a half.

Auburn used the bottom half of the frame to respond once again, scoring another four runs with two outs on the board. On a 1-2 count with runners on second and third, Stephens roped one to right field, her second hit of the year, to bring in both runners and give Auburn the 6-5 advantage. One pitch later the lead was extended to three as Estell picked up her fourth and fifth RBIs of the game on a two-run shot over the leftfield wall. Auburn left the inning with an 8-5 lead.

The Tigers extended that lead in the sixth inning. After a pitching change, Kylie Kleinschmidt let up a back-to-back homeruns to the first two batters she faced. The homeruns were the first of the season for Melero and Brooke Lathan. Kleinschmidt allowed one more run in the inning, but also recorded her first two career strikeouts to end the inning.

Auburn added its 10th two-out run to the board and extended its lead to 12-5 plating a run on a double steal with runners on the corners.

The Jackets are back in action next weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic at its new home in Clearwater, Fla. Tech will begin the tournament facing off against some very tough teams in DePaul and Tennessee on Friday, Feb. 24. Saturday will see games against UMass and Mississippi State and the Jackets will wrap up the tournament with a Sunday afternoon game against Illinois State.

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