Another weekend series, another win for No. 17 Auburn (39-16, 15-9 SEC) as the Tigers continue to roll down the final stretch of the regular season.
Auburn beat Mississippi State 5-2 in game one with a sixth-inning comeback and dropped game two in nine innings 5-4. With the series tied, the Tigers sent Maddie Penta back to the circle to close out her historic season. Penta delivered again with another shutout, another win for the junior, beating the Bulldogs 3-0.
Penta celebrated the seniors on the team and performed the national anthem before the regular season and series finale.
"The national anthem definitely got my nerves worked up more than pitching did,” Penta said. “It was the biggest audience I have ever sung for. I was nervous, but really excited to do something I love for our seniors on their day."
The nerves vanished as Auburn’s ace secured her 25th win of the season and held the Bulldogs (28-24, 7-16 SEC) scoreless. After giving up a lead off hit for MSU, Penta only allowed base runners via walks in her second one-hit performance of SEC play and her sixth shutout during the conference slate, tying the record set by Kristen Keyes in 2004. She recorded eight strikeouts and retired the final 10 batters, giving her 279 on the season and putting her on track to record over 300, which would be
With Penta securing the series-opening win on Friday, she now has 12 SEC wins, tied for the most in program history.
While Penta handled the defense, a pair of home runs from Nelia Peralta and Lindsey Garcia provided the only scoring for the Tigers, but it was enough. Peralta broke the scoreless game with a solo home run in the bottom of the third.
"I was trying to get a pitch to drive, and I did,” Peralta said. “Credit to the centerfielder because she made a nice play on it, but I'm glad it got over."
Garcia wrapped the scoring up with a two-run shot of her own in the bottom of the fifth, giving Auburn the 3-0 lead for good.
With the win and the standings across the conference, the Tigers have clinched a first round bye in the SEC Tournament and will go straight to the quarterfinals. The entire tournament seeding and matchups will be announced on Sunday.
"We're going into the postseason trusting ourselves,” Garcia said. “We know what we're capable of. We know how good we are. We're staying calm, cool and collected and playing each game like it's our first game of a new season."
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