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Texas got a pair of home runs from Nadia Taylor and one from Lexy Bennett as the Longhorns defeated Auburn softball 6-1 to oust the Tigers from the NCAA Austin Regional. Auburn ends its season with a 33-23 record. Texas improved to 43-11.
"This isn't how we wanted to end our season, obviously," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "Texas' bats got hot today and we couldn't match them. I'm really proud of our seniors. They have all earned their degrees and have represented Auburn as well as anyone could."
Lauren Schmalz started and took the loss to fall to 9-10. Schmalz allowed four runs, all earned, on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in two and two-thirds innings. Jenee Loree relived Schmalz and pitched the final three and one-third innings. Loree allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Rachel Fox started and earned the win to improve to 14-1. Fox allowed one run, earned, on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in a complete-game effort. Lexy Bennett gave Texas a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. It was Bennett's 11th homer of the season and it cleared the fence in centerfield.
Through the first three innings, Fox held the Tigers to one hit. Brooke Lathan reached on a one-out single in the top of the second inning. Lathan, however, was stranded as at first as Fox retired the next two Auburn hitters to end the inning. Fox forced the Tigers into eight fly outs through three innings, with one strikeout.
The Longhorns struck again, this time getting a two-out, three-run home run from Nadia Taylor in the bottom of the third inning. It was Taylor's eighth home run of the season and it came with Taylor Hoagland and Bennett aboard. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Schmalz gave up a double to Hoagland and walked Bennett to set up Taylor's homer.
Branndi Melero put the Tigers on the board with a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. It was Melero's fourth home run of the season, second of the Regional, and it cut the Auburn deficit to 4-1.
Texas went to small ball to score its next run of the game. Torie Schmidt singled to open the bottom of the fourth and moved to second on a sac bunt. With two outs, Kim Bruins hit a slow rolling single up the middle that Lauren Guzman fielded at the edge of the grass. Guzman fired to first but the throw was not in time. Schmidt, running on contact, scored just ahead of the throw home to give Texas a 5-1 lead.
Taylor connected for her second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to open the bottom of the sixth, to give Texas a 6-1 lead. It was Taylor's ninth homer of the season and it came on a 3-1 count from Loree.
In the top of the seventh, Texas centerfielder Courtney Craig made a diving catch of a ball off the bat of Elizabeth Eisterhold for the first out of the inning. Fox then forced Lathan to ground out to shortstop for the second out of the inning. Fox ended the game when pinch-hitter Morgan Murphy flied out to center for the third out.