Auburn, Ala. - The Tigers made a furious comeback in the final game of the Auburn Tiger Invitational on Sunday afternoon before dropping a heartbreaker to the hands of Indiana State. TSU was a step away from grabbing their first win of the season, only to see it slip away in extra innings. The Sycamores would score three runs in the top of the eighth inning to escape with a 9-6 win. TSU remains winless at 0-7, while ISU improved to 6-4.
The Sycamores looked to walk away with the game early as they used two hits, five base-on-balls, and a hit-by-pitch in the top of the first inning to compile a 5-0 lead. Junior pitcher Olivia Gamache would only allow two more free passes on the game after her struggles in the first inning. This would mark the second consecutive game Gamache would be charged with a loss in extra innings as she falls to 0-3.
TSU started to chip away at the Sycamores in the bottom of the first inning with a pair of runs. With one out, the youth movement of Jeff Dabney's team stepped up to load the bases. Freshmen Kiarra Freeman and Kacie Daugherty each picked up singles, while fellow first-year player, Audrey Sensing, earned a walk. Freeman would beat a play at home on a grounder to third off the bat of sophomore Kate Morris giving TSU their first run of the game.
Indiana State would try to turn an inning ending double play off the bat of Lindsey Burgess. The freshman reached safely as Daugherty crossed home plate to cut the lead to 5-2. Both teams had opportunities through the middle innings, but the score would remain the same until ISU scratched an unearned run in the top of the sixth.
The Tigers would answer the call as they trailed 6-2 heading into their final at bat. Senior Jennifer Givens drove a one-hopper to centerfield for a triple to open the bottom half of the inning. Freeman followed with a hard slap up the middle to plate Givens and begin the comeback. After a Daugherty single, Sensing would ground to third advancing her fellow classmates' one base giving the Tigers two runners in scoring position.
After a two out walk to Burgess, junior Ashley Haynes delivered a single through the right side of the infield scoring Freeman and Daugherty bringing TSU within one run.
The excitement would continue to build in the ballpark as freshman Jayna Hanawahine ripped a hard shot down the left field line. Burgess would score easily as the Sycamores tried to dig the ball out of the corner. Haynes was in full gear as she attempted to score all the way from first. ISU executed a perfect relay home allowing for a tag on Haynes just inches before touching the plate for the winning run. The clutch double by Hanawahine knotted the game at 6-6 and sent the Tigers into extra innings for the second time in three games.
TSU looked to be in good position in the extra frame when, with a runner on third and one out, Gamache enticed a grounder to Sensing at first. The Charlotte, Tenn., native seemed to get the ball to Daugherty covering first in time for the second out, not allowing the run to score. But a safe call gave ISU runners on the corner with just one out. The following batter lifted a fly to leftfield where Freeman was able to gather and deliver what seemed to be a strike to Burgess at home. The ball would glance off of the runner giving ISU the lead once again at 7-6.
Indiana State took full advantage of their extra inning as Megan Stone deposited her fourth hit of the game over the right field fence and gave ISU a 9-6 lead. The Tigers would not be able to generate the same magic as they did in the seventh and finished the tournament 0-4.
Daugherty collected her first three-hit game of her career, while Freeman, Burgess and Hanawahine all picked up two hits apiece.
TSU will open the home part of their schedule next weekend as they host their own Tiger Invitational. Tennessee State will host Morgan State, Bradley, IUPUI, and Butler for the two-day event. Each day will consist of five games beginning at 9:30 am on Saturday, Feb. 23. Both days will feature the Tigers playing two games with first pitch scheduled for 3:30 pm. Continue to follow tsutigers.com for more information.
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