After beating Alabama State, the No. 17 Auburn Tigers softball team (29-6) (7-5 SEC) stayed home in Jane B. Moore Field to take on the No. 7 Florida Gators (30-6) (7-5 SEC) in what was a heavyweight matchup, that ended in a series win for the Florida Gators who just beat the Tigers 2-1.
The series started on April 1, and although both the Gator’s Elizabeth Hightower and the Tiger’s Maddie Penta brought their A-game from the pitching circle, it was the Auburn Tigers who rode the home runs of Aspyn Godwin and Nelia Peralta to an Auburn win by the narrow margin of 3-1.
Florida’s pitcher Elizabeth Hightower would have a respectable day at the pitcher’s circle with nine strikeouts and only giving up six hits and three earned runs in six innings of work, but that would not be good enough to get her tenth win of the season. Instead, the win would go to Auburn’s pitcher Maddie Penta who through her six and a third innings of work got seven strikeouts, and only gave up five hits and one earned run.
Both these pitchers put in great game and that was shown In the fact that the game was tied at zero to zero until Aspyn Godwin hit a massive two-run homerun to left-center that scored her and Aubrie Lisenby who was walked on the previous at-bat. Nelia Peralta got a solo Homerun to centerfield in the top of the fifth, which would prove to be just enough to hold on to win even after Chyenne Lindsey hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that scored the Gators sole run.
The second game was played on April second and was almost the complete opposite of the low scoring game played the day before. As both teams totaled 17 hits Auburn would only have four of them and would fall just short in the seventh to lose by the narrow margin of seven to six.
Shelby Lowe would get the start for the Tigers who retired after the first inning in which she gave up one earned run, and head coach brought in KK Dismukes who pitched the other six innings and got one strikeout and gave up 11 hits and four earned runs, she also picked up the loss for the afternoon. Florida started Lexie Delbrey who pitched the first three innings and earned three strikeouts but gave up two earned runs on one hit.
However, she would not earn the win that would instead go to Natalie Lugo who in four innings got five strikeouts and gave up four earned runs on three hits. Both of the Florida pitchers had less earned runs than hits in part because of what this Auburn team does so well walks and home runs.
Makayla Packer was the first to hit a home run in the bottom. of third after Sydney Cox walked, then another one was hit by Nelia Peralta in the bottom of the sixth after Makayla Packer walked. Then in the bottom of the seventh after a sac fly from Carlee McCondichie and a triple from Makayla Packer each scored one to put the Tigers down by one, Nelia Peralta was walked, but unlike the previous times Kenadie Cooper grounded out to end the game 7-6 Florida and set up the rubber match the next day.
The Rubber match was played on April 3, and was a defensive battle dominated by two of the finest pitchers the SEC has to offer, but in the end it did not go Auburn’s way as they only got three hits in the 3-0 loss.
Pitching was the story of the game with both Maddie Penta and Elizabeth Hightower continuing their great games from Friday of which they both went the full seven innings, but Auburn’s Maddie Penta was handed the loss having five strikeouts and giving up seven hits with three earned runs. Florida’s Elizabeth Hightower grabbed her tenth win of the season with five strikeouts with three hits and no runs given up.
Auburn just could not get anything going offensively with only three singles on the day hit by Makayla Packer, Carlee McCondichie, and Bri Ellis, and furthering the struggles for the Tigers were unable to get a runner to third base.
Although Auburn lost the series, they have a lot to look over in a positive light especially from their pitchers highlighted by Maddie Penta who pitched two great games, only giving up 12 hits through 13 and a third innings. What Auburn must focus on is their contact hitting, despite their home runs they only got 13 hits through three games. The Tigers will have a short turnaround as they will be playing Georgia State on April 6 at 6 p.m. CST in Auburn.