Amanda Grable lined a three-run home run over the left field fence as North Dakota State University upset No. 21/22-ranked Auburn University 5-2 in the first game of the NCAA Division I Softball Minneapolis Regional played Friday, May 16, at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. The Bison (36-16) are scheduled to play the winner of No. 14/16 Minnesota (41-9) and Green Bay (27-12) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17.
North Dakota State improved to 5-8 in NCAA Division I softball tournament play with the win. The Bison posted their second win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season, the other coming at Stanford, and the program's sixth in its Division I softball history. NDSU has won five of its last 14 meetings with nationally-ranked teams.
Grable, a 5-foot-8 junior from Santee, Calif., drilled the first pitch she saw over the fence in left with one out.Logan Moreland led off the inning with a bunt single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scooted third on Cheyenne Garcia's infield single to shortstop. It was Grable's 10th home run of the season and NDSU's second long ball of the game.
The Bison tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning when sophomore Maritza Lopez-Portillo launched a 1-2 pitch for a home run to left. It was the fourth home run of the season for Lopez-Portillo.
Auburn (39-18-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Emily Carosone walked and scored on Kasey Cooper's double down the left field line. However, Cooper was cut down at third base when the throw from Lopez-Portillo was cut off by Grable, who threw to shortstop Moreland covering the bag.
North Dakota State tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the third. Brandi Enriquez reached on a walk following an illegal pitch, moved to second on Jenna Isbel's sacrifice bunt and sprinted to third on Alex Sobrero's single up the middle. Moreland stroked a two-out RBI single to right to score Enriquez. Sobrero and Moreland combined for four of NDSU's seven hits.
The Tigers regained the lead at 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when clean-up hitter Morgan Estell lined a home run to center. It was Estell's sixth home run of the season.
Krista Menke (29-7) benefitted from the offense. Menke scattered four hits, walked eight and struck out five as Auburn stranded nine baserunners. She also had help on defense. Bison catcher Jenina Ortega picked off a runner at first in the second inning, her fourth of the season. Ortega also made a diving catch of a foul bunt attempt and blocked pitches in the dirt on several occasions.
Lexi Davis (20-11) took the loss for Auburn. Davis struck out two and issued no walks.