Timely hitting leads Auburn softball to victory over Tennessee
AUBURN, Ala. – For the 19th time this season, Auburn tallied 10 or more hits in a game. On Thursday night against the No. 11 Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the Tigers notched 13 timely hits in its 6-2 win at Jane B. Moore Field. It's the 11th time Auburn has reached 13 or more hits in a game, but that total is only the fifth-highest this season.
The win over the Lady Vols is Auburn's first since 2011 and its sixth win when both teams are ranked in their histories. Auburn also stays undefeated at home, now 21-0 at the friendly confines of Jane B. Moore Field.
Seven different players in the Auburn lineup had at least one hit tonight, four had two or more. Both sophomore Jenna Abbott and redshirt sophomore Haley Fagan had three hits in the game to lead the team. Abbott had her first career three-hit game and also hit her first career triple in the second inning.
In the circle, the Tigers, once again, got a solid pitching performance from junior Lexi Davis, who garnered her 17th win of the year in five innings pitched, scattering six hits and only giving up two runs.
Junior Rachael Walters pitched the final two innings, striking out the side in the final inning and finishing with five K's, facing just eight batters in the process.
Auburn ups its overall record with the win to 36-4 and stays atop the Southeastern Conference with a now 9-1 record. Tennessee falls to 26-8 and 6-4 in the SEC. The loss breaks a six-game winning streak the Lady Vols had coming into Thursday night's contest.
Auburn's defense was on point as well, as it has been all season long. With the Lady Vols threatening multiple times throughout the game, the Tigers turned two double plays and continues to lead the SEC with 18 double plays.
The Tigers never trailed in Thursday's game scoring twice in the first frame on Fagan's first hit of the night, bringing home Emily Carosone and Tiffany Howard. Both Howard and Carosone had reached earlier in the inning on walks as Fagan was able to bring them around with two outs.
Tennessee cut the lead in half in the top of the second off a Scarlet McSwain solo home run, her sixth of the year. But, Auburn was able to put another on the board in the bottom half after Abbott hit her first career triple with one out. She easily scored two batters later on a Howard single through the left side, also with two outs.
As Davis continued to mow through the Tennessee lineup, Abbott came through with her second hit of the night, an RBI single in the bottom of the third to give her team some insurance in the form of a 4-1 lead.
Earlier in the inning, Auburn had the bases loaded after three-straight singles by Branndi Melero, Fagan and Jade Rhodes. Rhodes had reached on a beautiful bunt right back to the pitcher when no one on the Tennessee defense was expecting the bunt.
The next batter, Morgan Estell lined into what looked like a momentum-killing double play, but Abbott's perfectly placed single into left field scored Fagan from second as it was Auburn's fourth run of the game with two outs.
Tennessee played long ball again in the top of the fourth as Gretchen Aucoin hit her sixth homer of the year, but, luckily, there was no one on base for the Lady Vols and the damage was minimal, cutting Auburn's lead to 4-2.
Auburn got the final two runs it needed in the bottom of the fourth inning, which all started with an error by the Tennessee pitcher, Erin Gabriel, allowing Howard to reach base to start the half inning.
The Lady Vols paid for that error as Carosone just missed her 16th home run in the next at-bat, bouncing a 2-2 pitch off the centerfield wall, easily scoring Howard and running safely into third. Carosone finished the game 2-for-2 with two runs scored and the lone RBI, giving her 57 RBI this season.
Carosone scored just one batter later as Kasey Cooper hit a deep sacrifice fly to center, pushing Auburn ahead for the final score of 6-2.
Auburn and Tennessee will be back on the field for game two of the series on Friday, facing off at Jane B. Moore Field at 6 p.m. Friday's game can be seen on WatchESPN.com. Live stats will also be provided on AuburnTigers.com.