Makayla Martin throws first no-hitter as No. 13 Auburn softball improves to 13-0 with weekend sweep

AUBURN, Ala. — For the second weekend in a row, Auburn softball’s pitchers were dominant, and the hitters picked up steam to continue the Tigers’ perfect start to the season.

No. 13 Auburn softball went 6-0 in the Tiger Invitational this weekend, sweeping three straight home doubleheaders against a combination of Delaware, Saint Francis, Maryland and Georgia State.

The Tigers outscored their opponents 49-4 and added four more shutouts to their season total of 10. Auburn is now 13-0 heading into its first road trip, which will take the Tigers to California for six games.

Here are SEC Country’s recaps of all six games, along with box scores, quotes and analysis from the action.

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Auburn pitcher Kaylee Carlson improved to 6-0 on the season Sunday. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 2 (Sunday): Auburn 5, Georgia State 0

Auburn softball had to change a lot in its weekend finale Sunday afternoon against Georgia State. Two injuries made the Tigers shift their lineup drastically. But they still had Kaylee Carlson in the circle, so a lot of the game became business as usual.

Carlson allowed just one hit in five innings of shutout work as Auburn improved to 13-0 with a 5-0 win over Georgia State. In total, Auburn gave up just one hit in two games Sunday and four hits over its final four games of the weekend.

“We gave up one? We’ve got to get better,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean joked. “It’s impressive. It’s nice to be able to go out there and attack as a pitcher and knowing that your defense can make plays like that behind you. I thought our defense played exceptionally well today. We communicated well.”

At the plate, senior catcher Courtney Shea — batting in the second spot in place of the injured KK Crocker — stayed hot with a sacrifice fly to open the scoring in the 3rd and an RBI single in the 4th. Designated player Tannon Snow continued her strong weekend with a pair of singles, once of which brought home a run in the 3rd.

“Our heads could’ve been all kinds of places, because we lose a No. 2 and No. 3 batter in the lineup, we lose the middle infield, and we’ve got to shuffle the batting lineup,” Dean said. “And they didn’t lose a beat. I was proud of them.”

Crocker jammed her right thumb on a double steal in Game 1 against Maryland. The Tigers were also forced to start freshman Makenna Dowell at shortstop for Taylon Snow, the 3-hole hitter who suffered a sprained ankle rounding the bases against Maryland earlier in the day. Dowell drew a walk in her second career start.

With the run support, Carlson (6-0) stayed perfect until the top of the 5th inning, when a hard-hit ball turned into an infield single.

But Carlson got the next batter to roll over into a 1-6-3 double play, which ensured she faced the minimum in her five innings.

Freshman reliever Chardonnay Harris closed out the game for Auburn with a pair of scoreless innings. The young lefty still has not allowed a hit and has struck out 13 in the first 8 innings of her college career.

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Auburn pitcher Makayla Martin hasn’t allowed a run in the first two weeks of the season. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 1 (Sunday): Auburn 8, Maryland 0 (5)

It’s safe to say Auburn softball hasn’t seen this level of dominance from Makayla Martin.

The junior pitcher from San Diego extended her streak of shutout innings to start the season to 32 on Sunday as she tossed a 5-inning no-hitter in No. 13 Auburn’s 8-0 win over Maryland.

Martin (6-0) struck out five batters — giving her an even 30 through eight appearances this season — and was just a two-out walk in the 4th from a perfect game. She kept the ball down as well, forcing 9 groundouts to just a single flyout.

“It felt like any other game, but without any hits,” Martin said with a laugh. “I was feeling good. My stuff was really working today. I was confident with every pitch that I was throwing.”

Offensively, Auburn overcame a rare 3-up, 3-down 1st to put up two runs in each of the final four innings. Alyssa Rivera and Courtney Shea each had two hits, with Rivera’s both being doubles. Freshman catcher Abby Tissier knocked home the game-ending RBI on a single into left field. Shea, Tannon Snow and Victoria Draper joined Tissier with the RBI for the Tigers.

The only negatives for the Tigers in Game 1 came on the basepaths. Middle infielders Tannon Snow and KK Crocker both left the game with injuries. Snow twisted her ankle while rounding a base, while Crocker jammed her thumb after pulling off part of a rare double steal on a walk.

Draper scored on the double steal. She stole a pair of bases in the victory, giving her 12 on the season.

“We practice that,” Dean said. “It’s no different than having runners on first and third and a pitch being made. Except, instead of the ball being in the catcher’s hand, the ball is in the pitcher’s hand, and she’s looking down at the ground and she’s mad because she just walked a batter. We just took second base and scored a run.”

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Auburn designated player Tannon Snow (9) smashed her second home run of the season Saturday. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 2 (Saturday): Auburn 5, Saint Francis 0

Auburn softball’s rematch against Saint Francis on Saturday evening went a lot like its first. The Tigers struggled to get consistent offense against the Red Flash’s Abby Trahan, but Makayla Martin countered with even better pitching.

Martin’s excellence in the circle and timely hitting from the Snow sisters and Justus Perry gave Auburn a 5-0 victory over Saint Francis on Saturday.

Taylon Snow had two hits — including an early RBI single — while Tannon Snow and Perry hit home runs in back-to-back innings. Tannon Snow added a single in the 6th to give Auburn (11-0) 5 hits for the game.

“[Taylon] just doesn’t get excited. She’s one of the most even-keeled players I think I’ve ever coached,” Dean said. “She’s right in her zone all the time. … And that’s what we want to see [from Tannon]. That’s what we want to see.”

Martin (4-0) struck out 9 batters, surrendered zero walks and allowed just 2 hits in the shutout victory. That came off the heels of her relief appearance against Saint Francis on Friday, when she struck out five batters in two perfect innings.

“Honestly, looking back on my past, I was never this far improved at this time in the year,” Martin said. “Everything I’ve been working on in the offseason is really showing now. It’s really exciting.”

Offensively, the Snows were assisted by senior center fielder Victoria Draper, who was hit by two pitches and stole a pair of bases. Taylon Snow knocked Draper home in the 1st inning. The speedy Draper now has a career-high 10 stolen bases this season — and they’ve come in just 11 games.

“I’m not going to lose a ball game with great speed standing on first base,” Dean said. “We get a base hit and then an error and win the ball game [on Friday]. When we have our speed, we’ve got to use it. Are we going to be perfect at it? But as long as we can keep pressure on that defense, that defense is going to make mistakes, I promise you.”

Auburn couldn’t carry over a lot of its offensive fireworks from Game 1 into Game 2. Trahan forced a lot of flyball outs and limited her mistakes most of the way.

Tannon Snow changed that in the bottom of the 5th by blasting a solo shot over the left field wall for her second home run of the season.

“I’m just getting my timing down,” Snow said. “I have my teammates behind me. It felt good. … I got beat on my first at-bat inside. I knew she wasn’t going to beat me again. My approach changed, and I knew I was going to get an inside pitch again. Then I did what I do.”

In the next inning, Taylon Snow got back on the basepaths with a single, and Perry delivered a nearly identical home run for her 16th and 17th RBI of the season.

That was more than enough insurance for Martin, who only allowed one baserunner in the final two innings. Auburn now has shutout eight of its first 11 opponents of the season, and Martin hasn’t allowed a single run yet.

“I know this was there,” Dean said of Martin. “It’s completely up to her. I think she’s got a lot of confidence. I think all of our pitchers do right now, and that’s a good thing. You just let them do their thing and not get in their way. Keep them on par, keep them on course, make sure they’re doing the things they need to do… but let them do their thing.”

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Auburn right fielder Alyssa Rivera sparked the Tigers to another blowout win Saturday. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 1 (Saturday): Auburn 12, Maryland 1 (5)

For the second straight game, Auburn softball trailed to open its doubleheader Saturday. That didn’t last long, though.

The Tigers bashed a dozen runs in three innings to defeat Maryland, 12-1, in five. Sophomore right fielder Alyssa Rivera led the Auburn (10-0) offense with a 2-for-2 game that featured a home run, a double, a walk and three runs.

Senior Kaylee Carlson (5-0) bounced back from a shaky outing against Saint Francis on Friday and allowed only one run on a single hit and one walk. The lone run came off a manufactured walk in the 2nd. Freshman Chardonnay Harris slammed the door on the visiting Terrapins in the 5th with three strikeouts.

“Put the ball back in their hands and let them go,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said of his pitchers. “That’s just what they do.”

Auburn had a pair of 5-run innings around Rivera’s 3rd inning, 2-run homer — her first of the season — to set up the run-rule victory.

Victoria Draper and KK Crocker joined Rivera with multiple hits and at least a single RBI, while Courtney Shea and Kendall Veach each knocked in runs with their base knocks.

In total, Auburn had nine different players record RBI in the victory. The Tigers outscored their opponents 74-5 through the first 10 games of the season.

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Auburn left fielder Morgan Podany hit a crucial home run in Game 2 on Friday. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 2 (Friday): Auburn 4, Saint Francis 3

After routing Delaware in Game 1, Auburn softball faced its first major adversity of the season in Game 2. Saint Francis hit homers off Auburn ace Kaylee Carlson to take the lead on two separate occasions, but the Tigers rallied back to win 4-3 on a botched throw in the bottom of the 7th.

“It’s important, because you’re not always going to be up,” first baseman Justus Perry said. “Sometimes you have to fight. That’s something that I knew we had in us, but I wasn’t sure where it was. I’m really glad that it showed. That second game was better for us, because you could see people’s true colors.”

Left fielder Morgan Podany and pitcher Makayla Martin were the heroes for Auburn, which improved to 9-0 on the season with the win. Podany launched a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 5th — the second of her career and her first since 2016 — to tie the game.

“I was just trying to get on base and help my pitcher out,” Podany said. “Pitchers aren’t going to throw their best every single game, and when it’s a good matchup, we as hitters really need to be able to get on base and score for them. And we weren’t doing that at the beginning of the game.”

Auburn didn’t record a single hit until the 4th inning, when shortstop Taylon Snow tripled and Perry drilled her team-leading 15th RBI of the season on a single. After Carlson surrendered a two-run home run to SFU’s Madison Cabell in the 5th, Podany sent a shot over the left field wall.

Martin (4-0) stole the show in the 6th and 7th innings, getting a quick groundout and then striking out the next five batters she faced. The Auburn junior only pitched three innings in a Game 1 shutout, so she was fresh for the clutch innings in Game 2.

“I think when Mak throws well, that drop ball is so nasty,” Auburn assistant coach Annie Smith said. “And she was throwing hard. She did a great job.”

In the bottom of the 7th, Auburn got a leadoff walk from Tannon Snow and a stolen base from pinch runner Brittany Maresette. The Tigers walked off when leadoff hitter Victoria Draper dropped a bunt and forced a bad throw at first. Maresette scored to keep Auburn’s undefeated record intact.

“That’s going to pay off dividends down the road,” Smith said. “You’re always going to have a target on your back when you have a ranking, when you’re Auburn, when you’re in the SEC. To be able to fight and battle and for everybody to contribute… you only win as a team. It takes everybody. It was great to see that and learn from that as they pulled together.”

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Auburn first baseman Justus Perry had 5 RBI on Friday. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Game 1 (Friday): Auburn 15, Delaware 0 (5)

Auburn gave Delaware an unwelcome greeting to the season, as it took full advantage of shaky pitching in a 15-0 rout in five innings. Delaware, which was playing its season opener, gave out 10 free passes and committed five errors.

Justus Perry led the way for Auburn’s offense with a 3-for-3 day and 4 RBI. Kendall Veach, who has struggled at the plate early this season, added 3 RBI on a sacrifice fly and a 2-run home run.

The Tigers opened the action with a bang, scoring three runs in the 1st inning. The opening frame, which featured a 2-RBI double from Perry, marked the fourth straight game in which the Tigers scored in the 1st.

That couldn’t compare to what happened in the second, though. Auburn sent 16 batters to the plate, batting around after the second out was made. The Tigers scored 10 runs on six hits, one Delaware error and six walks. Perry added two more RBI in the inning, along with a sacrifice fly from Kendall Veach on a diving catch in left field.

“I’m really just trying to show [Auburn coach Mickey Dean] and show this team that I deserve to be here and I’m going to give them my all no matter what,” Perry said.

That tough break for Veach didn’t drag her down, though. On her next plate appearance in the 4th inning, she launched a two-run shot over the wall in right field to give Auburn its 14th and 15th runs.

In the circle, Makayla Martin (3-0) threw three clean innings before handing the ball to Auburn’s freshmen relievers. Chardonnay Harris and Kara Bilodeau — the latter making her first career appearance — combined for three strikeouts in back-to-back perfect innings.

“It’s good experience, and they need that,” Martin said. “If they don’t see the field and they get put in SEC games, they’re not going to know what to do. So I just like when they’re coming out there and dominating. They’re doing great so far.”

Auburn only allowed three hits in the win, which marked its seventh shutout in eight games to start the season.

The post Makayla Martin throws first no-hitter as No. 13 Auburn softball improves to 13-0 with weekend sweep appeared first on SEC Country.

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