Auburn Softball Review: Tigers Sweep Kentucky, Take Down Ole Miss
Alyssa Rivera homered to lead Auburn to a 3-1 win over Ole Miss in game two of their weekend series. (photo: Cat Wofford, Auburn Athletics)
After suffering the sweep by LSU, Auburn softball bounced back to win the series against Alabama. Up next was Kentucky, which swept LSU, the team that swept Auburn just two weeks before. Sweeps are something new to softball fans who just started following the Tigers in the last few years.
Auburn swept the Wildcats 3–1, 1–0, and 6–4. Truly, game three wasn’t nearly as close as it might appear as Auburn never trailed the Wildcats and enjoyed a multiple-run lead for most of the game. Casey McCrackin did a lot of damage for the Tigers with her two hits and two RBIs. Her first inning solo moon shot set the tone for Auburn. Her team-leading six homers is already more than she’s had in her entire career as an Auburn Tiger, and she’s just three hits away from meeting her career numbers. In addition, Alyssa Rivera added some insurance with a lead-off homer in the last frame.
Although Makayla Martin earned the win, she was pulled after four innings for Chardonnay Harris. The freshman pitched the remaining three innings, matching Martin’s two hits and two earned runs. Harris has cemented herself well ahead of sophomore Ashlee Swindle as Auburn’s third pitcher. Swindle came to Auburn as one of the top prospects in the country but has been extremely hittable by other teams. That’s not to say she’s not had a decent start to her career, it’s just that Martin and Kaylee Carlson form the best duo in the country. Statistically, the pitching staff is behind Oklahoma, but the rest of the Big 12 is incredibly weak, and the SEC is by far the best conference in the nation.
The story over the week for the Tigers is the rise of freshman shortstop Makenna Dowel, who has played second fiddle to freshman Taylon Snow. Although Coach Mickey Dean gave Dowel some playing time early in the season, Snow seemed a lock for shortstop. But after Snow was injured on a dive into second base, she hasn’t been on the field, and Dowel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors following the Kentucky series. Her highlights included a gloveside, no-hands flip to second baseman McCrackin to start a crucial double play. Dowel has had some hits, but she needs to improve on her batting average, which stands at .200. Still, with three doubles among her eight hits, the power is there.
Following the sweep at home against Kentucky, the Tigers traveled to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels, the reigning SEC Champs. Auburn struck first as Justus Perry’s single in the second scored Alyssa Rivera. The Rebels tied the score in the same inning, and that held until the sixth inning when Rivera blasted a homer to score Kendall Veach. Rivera and Casey McCrackin teamed up for four hits on the day. Kaylee Carlson got the win, allowing just one earned run. The Rebels have had success against Carlson in the past,which showed again as she was had only one strikeout.
The Tigers won the series the next day in 5–1 fashion. Martin (13–1) went the distance, scattering eight hits as her defense backed her up time and again. The top of Auburn’s lineup did the most damage. Victoria Draper had two hits and scored both times. Casey McCrackin also had two hits, but it was Rivera whose single hit scored two runs for the Tigers.
Swindle got the call for Sunday’s game, but she only made it four innings, giving up eight hits and two earned runs. Harris stepped in and finished the game, allowing four hits and one run, but Auburn wasn’t able to get one more run to force extra innings and dropped game three, 3–2.
The Tigers welcome Kennesaw State Wednesday night at Jane B. Moore field at 6:00 PM. Hopefully, the contest will be closer than Auburn’s last out-of-conference game against Alabama State, which was simply unwatchable as the Tigers pounded ASU 22–0.
Auburn has a critical home series with Tennessee this weekend. The Tigers sit at 5th with a 7–5 conference record while the Vols are 4–4 and falling behind. A series win will be huge for either team. Action begins at 5:30 on Friday on ESPNU. This will be one of the rare times you can catch the softball Tigers on television, so be sure to tune in.