Softball Ends March at 6–3 In the SEC
Alyssa Rivera (21) hits the ball during Auburn’s SEC game against Georgia. (photo:Marie Lipski/Auburn Plainsman)
After an extensive nonconference slate, Auburn softball hosted Texas A&M to open the ever daunting SEC schedule. The Tigers’ bats were hot, and they scored at least seven runs in each game for a sweep of the Aggies. After a 6–7 loss to start the series in Starkville against Mississippi State, the Tigers won the series in convincing fashion before entering a battle of top-20 teams against Georgia.
At stake was an 18-game home winning streak for the Tigers as well as an eight-game winning streak against the Bulldogs going back to 2014. They had to face the Dawgs without ace pitcher Makayla Martin, who has a broken hand.
Both teams came out with hot bats. With UGA leading 4–1 in game 1, Kendall Veach, closed the gap to one run with a moonshot that scored the Snow Sisters, Tannon and Taylon. But UGA’s Alyssa DiCarlo hit a homer that put UGA on top 5–3. Auburn tried to crawl back in the game with a Tannon Snow sacrifice grounder to score Casey McCrackin. Justus Perry added a solo shot to get Auburn close, but the Tigers couldn’t do anything in the final frame, and UGA took a 7–6 win.
Saturday’s matchup was a much lower scoring affair with the ‘Dogs taking the series with a 3–2 win. Justus Perry drove in Alyssa Rivera, thanks to a fielding error, with two outs. That was the only run scored by either team until the fifth inning. UGA’s DiCarlo struck as Auburn’s McCrackin decided to go to first on a grounder instead of at Savana Sikes, who was on base. CJ Landrum advanced to third on the play and scored moments later on wild pitch by Auburn hurler, Lexi Handley.
Auburn had zero hits in the game until pinch-runner Brittany Maresette came to the plate in the seventh for a rare at-bat. She put a ball deep into the corner, and her speed allowed her a rare inside-the-park homer. But it was Ciara Bryan’s second homer of the series in the sixth inning that put Auburn away.
“We got beat on two pitches tonight, over and over and over, and didn’t make any adjustments,” Auburn head coach Mickey Dean said. “You have to make adjustments, and we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that. Tonight, we were stubborn.”
Auburn was able to extract some retribution on Sunday as Ashlee Swindle got the win for the Tigers. Thirteen hits by Auburn was the difference, something sorely lacking in the prior contest. Maresette led the Tigers with three hits and scored two runs, a surprising performance for the little-used but speedy player. The Snow Sisters, Rivera, and Morgan Podany each had two hits apiece.
MoPo led Auburn with four RBI’s, but the Tigers still stranded 13 players on base. Coach Dean said, “We put up nine runs and hit a solo shot, but that’s just not who we are. We’ll take them when they come, but that’s not who we are.”
No. 14 Auburn ended the weekend with a 30–7 record, 6–3 in the SEC, and the Tigers take on a very good Tennessee Volunteer team in Knoxville this weekend.
Auburn’s lineup isn’t hitting terribly as only Justus Perry and Bree Fornis are under .300. The Tigers seem to be getting back to the Clint Myers’ teams that had much success with the long ball. Auburn has tallied 50 homers so far this season, seven more than Auburn hit all of last season, and Kendall Veach leads the way with 16 dingers.
Without Martin, Auburn’s pitching staff has done an admirable job of taking up the slack, especially with Handley stepping into the role vacated by Martin. Her 72-MPH fastball is one of the fastest in softball, but control has been a big issue as she leads the team in wild pitches by a wide margin . Despite having the fewest appearances, she has 13 of Auburn’s 20 total wild pitches on the season.
Auburn takes on the Vols Saturday at 1:00 PM CT on the SEC Network.