Auburn, Ala. — The 24th-ranked Auburn softball team used the long ball to defeat Connecticut and Florida State, hitting a combined four home runs in two games Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers defeated Connecticut 8-0 in six innings and Florida State 5-3 in seven.
Auburn improved to 19-2 with the wins. The Tigers victory over UConn gave the Tigers an 18-2 record and set the mark for the program's best start to a season through the first 20 games.
Connecticut fell to 2-4, while Florida State dropped to 12-9.
"Coming off four games this weekend, three against ranked teams, these were two good wins for us today," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "We are playing with a lot of confidence and finding ways to win games. We won with the bats in the first game and won with pitching and defense in the second game. These games have been good preparation for us before conference play begins this weekend."
Auburn is scheduled to play Penn State at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Tigers travel to Fayetteville this weekend to open Southeastern Conference play with a three-game series against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Against Florida State, Kelsey Cartwright hit her first career grand slam and the Tigers held off a seventh-inning rally to defeat the Seminoles 5-3.
Jenee Loree started and earned the win to improve to 5-1. Loree pitched six and one-third innings, allowing three runs, all earned, on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Angel Bunner earned her second save of the season by recording the final two outs of the game, allowing two infield singles.
Sarah Hamilton started and took the loss to fall to 5-6.
Hamilton allowed five runs, all earned, on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts in four innings of work.
Auburn took advantage of an erratic Hamilton to take the lead in the bottom of the third inning. The Tigers loaded the bases with no outs as Morgan Estell was hit by a pitch, Kyndall White followed with a slap single up the middle and Lauren Guzman was hit by a pitch.
Amber Harrison then drew a four-pitch walk to force Estell home and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. After a pop-up to third produced the first out of the inning, Kelsey Cartwright lofted a home run over the wall in left for a grand slam to push the Auburn lead to 5-0. It was Cartwright's team-best fifth home run of the season, eighth of her career and first career grand slam.
Loree would make the five run lead hold as she kept the Seminoles off the scoreboard. Florid State threatened in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. The Seminoles put two on in the fifth and sixth, but both times with two outs and Loree was able to force a pair of ground outs to end each inning.
In the seventh, the Seminoles finally broke through. FSU got two singles and a walk to load the bases and chase Loree from the game.
Bunner entered the game with tying run on deck and gave up an infield single to Ashley Stager in the hole at short to score Tiffani Brown
(single) and cut the Auburn lead to 5-1.
The next batter, Jen Lapicki, slapped a hard single off first baseman Morgan Estell that plated Courtney Senas (single) to make it a
5-2 game. Briana Hamilton followed with a fielder's choice that forced Amber Bryant home to cut the Auburn lead to two runs at 5-3 with two outs.
Bunner, however, would regroup and force Shayla Jackson to fly out to left for the final out of the game. The Seminoles stranded 10 runners on base, with six of those coming in the final three innings.
In the first game of the day, the Tigers got home runs from Elizabeth Eisterhold, Amber Harrison and Morgan Murphy to cruise to an 8-0 victory over Connecticut. The game marked the third time this season the Tigers have hit at least three home runs in a game.
Lauren Schmalz remained unbeaten this season, improving to 9-0 with the complete-game victory. Schmalz scattered three hits, did not issue a walk and fanned seven in the win. Schmalz is the first pitcher in Auburn history to begin a season 9-0.
Kiki Saveriano (1-3) started and took the loss after allowing seven runs, six earned, on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Ali Adelman allowed the game-ending run and went just
one-third of an inning, allowing one run, earned, on one hit.
The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out, three-run home run from Eisterhold. It was Eisterhold's third home run of the season and the 21st of her career.
The home run moved Eisterhold into a tie for tie for eighth in the Auburn career record books. The home run came with Kyndall White
(double) and Lauren Guzman (single) aboard.
The Tigers made it 4-0 two batters later. After a walk to Kelsey Cartwright, Katie Colton reached on an infield single but the throw from Saveriano was high and rolled into foul territory allowing Cartwright to score from first.
Harrison made it a 5-0 lead for Auburn with a two-out, solo home run off the scoreboard in left center in the third inning. It was Harrison's fourth home run of the season and the 11th of her career.
It was also the 20th home run the Tigers have hit and the fifth multi-home run game of the season.
Harrison picked up her second RBI of the day with a two-out double off the wall in left center that drove home White for a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning. Eisterhold followed with a double to the wall in center to score Harrison and push the Auburn lead to 7-0. It was Eisterhold's fourth RBI of the day, tying her single-game career best.
Morgan Murphy ended the game with a pinch-hit, solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. It was Murphy's first home run of the season and the third of her career and ended the game at 8-0.