AU Softball Ends Season with Shutout Sweep … Ready to Face Tide in SEC Tournament
It’s just what the Tigers needed after getting swept in the last SEC series of the season. With the SEC tournament kicking off Wednesday against the Crimson Tide, an offensive breakout is exactly the medicine Auburn needs to go after another SEC crown.
The Texas A&M pitching and defense stifled the Tigers, who scored just two runs in three games in College Station. But the Tigers took down UT-Chattanooga in Chattanooga, outscoring the Mocs 16–0 in front of a sold-out crowd that had local Auburn fans in the area scrambling for tickets.
Victoria Draper was moved back to the leadoff spot and responded with two hits in the first game. Alyssa Rivera and Kendall Veach added two hits each. There were also four RBI’s scattered among the lineup; more importantly, there were no strikeouts for the Auburn hitters in what may be the sign of great things to come. Auburn’s watchful eyes led to eight walks.
Kaylee Carlson got the start and went four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and recording a single strikeout as she ended her last season with a 20–6 record. Ashlee Swindle and Kara Bilodeau also made appearances in the circle for Auburn.
The Tigers took things a step further in game two as Draper led the way in the box for Auburn with four hits on the afternoon. She scored two runs and added two RBIs. The senior is the sparkplug for an offense that has languished over the previous few year’s production. Alyssa Rivera added two hits and an RBI to bookend the top of the Auburn lineup, which did virtually all of the damage taking down the Mocs 9-0.
The Auburn defense was flawless for the second game in a row, and the Tiger bats came alive to the tune of 13 hits. Makayla Martin finished her season with a 15–5 record as she went five innings, leaving Swindle and Bilodeau to finish things off. Along the way, Martin allowed just two hits and added two Ks.
Auburn finished the regular season with a 40–14 record, the most losses since the 2013–2014 season. However, it’s postseason time, and while they won’t have a chance to match the 19 losses that season, they can still pad the win column as the SEC tournament starts this Wednesday against Alabama. The Tide is a team that Auburn has been able to control in recent years.
In their last meeting almost two months ago, the Tigers defeated the Tide twice to win the series. While Bama took game one 2–0, Auburn bounced back and won games two and three with scores of 3–1 and 2–1, respectively. It should be noted that the series win came after ace Alexis Osorio was taken out of the game with concussion-like symptoms after being struck in the face by a hit. She’s been back and healthy, though she hasn’t been nearly as good as in previous years. Can Auburn win and advance in Columbia, Missouri?
Alabama presents a unique struggle for the SEC as its lineup is built differently from most SEC clubs. Alabama has a lot of power hitters who hurt you hitting long balls and moving the faster players on multi-base hits. If Auburn’s pitchers can keep the ball on the ground, they will win. Of course, Auburn has to get the bats going also.
Auburn has great success when allowing speedy slappers to hit with runners on base, frequently with quality at-bats that end in walks. For example, Victoria Draper is three times the threat at the plate with a runner on the base path because of the pressure it puts on the infield when she bounces the ball. So far this season, Auburn has struggled when the mid-pack batters don’t force long at-bats. They did just that this past weekend.
The game is set for 6:30 Central, the match will surely be shown on TV, but the channel hasn’t been announced. The winner will take on the top-seeded Florida Gators on Thursday at 6:30 Central.