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    Ladyjacks Fall To Auburn
    Sophomore Kendal Harper had two hits in SFA's loss to Auburn Saturday in the NCAA Championships
    Sophomore Kendal Harper had two hits in SFA's loss to Auburn Saturday in the NCAA Championships

    May 17, 2008

    Box Score

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Auburn banged out nine hits, and Stephen F. Austin left eight runners on base as the Tigers knocked SFA from NCAA Championship play with a 2-0 verdict Saturday on Day 2 of the College Station Regional.

    Auburn put up a run each in the third and fifth innings, and SFA couldn't capitalize on any of its four hits. SFA also notched four base hits in Friday's opener against No. 5 Texas A&M, when the Ladyjacks lost by an identical 2-0 final margin.

    With the loss, SFA moves to 36-25 on the season. Auburn (38-21) advanced to meet Louisiana Tech (36-28) in Game 5 of the regional, scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday night.

    SFA got out to a promising start, as Kendal Harper and Benet Higgs hit back-to-back, one-out singles to give SFA a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the first. But Auburn's Lauren Schmalz got the next two batters on strikes to end the inning.

    An inning and a half later, Auburn plated the game's first run. SFA starter Monika Covington had stranded three Auburn runners in scoring position in the first two innings, and was one out away from doing it again in the third. But Myesha Finney scored from second on a two-out chopper up the middle by Tatiana Fernandez. The ball bounced off the glove of second baseman Ashley Struchtemeyer and into center field, allowing Finney to cross the plate. Finney had reached base after being hit by a pitch.

    Hirsch and Harper again reached base with one out in the bottom of the third -- Hirsch on an error and Harper on her second hit of the game. Higgs moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt that she nearly beat out for a hit, but they were stranded when senior Jessica Tullos lined out to left field. Following Harper's base hit, Auburn pulled Schmalz in favor of Angel Bunner.

    The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Covington escaped further damage when she got a strikeout and foul pop-out behind the plate to end the inning.

    The Ladyjacks put two runners in scoring position in the bottom half, when Candise Juarez and Moriah Davis moved to third and second, respectively, on a ground-out by Kari Hugie. Juarez was running for Briana Bishop, who had led off with a walk. Davis reached on a fielding error. Both runners were stranded when Kim Daley grounded out to end the inning.

    Auburn padded its lead in the fifth inning when Fernandez lifted a solo home run over the right-field wall, and SFA was unable to answer in its last three at-bats.

    Covington (20-14) allowed two earned runs as Auburn's nine hits tied for the second-best single-game total off Covington this season. She didn't allow a walk for the second straight game and recorded five strikeouts.

    Schmalz (8-3) got the win for Auburn after working 2 1/3 innings. She gave up three hits and struck out four.

    Saturday's loss concluded one of the best seasons for SFA since joining the Division I ranks in 1988. The Ladyjacks' 36 wins are the third-most in the program's Division I tenure. The 2008 campaign marks SFA's first 30-win season since going 31-31 in 1994. The Ladyjacks finish the year 11 games over .500, the first time an SFA team has finished the season with a winning record since 2000.

    This weekend's NCAA Regional qualification was the program's first at the Division I level. SFA earned its way into the NCAA Championships by winning the Southland Conference Tournament. The Ladyjacks finished fourth in the conference's regular season, reaching the SLC Tourney for the first time since 1990.

    -- SFA --