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<p>Auburn Softball at Florida Gators. Photo taken 04-06-23. Cat Wofford/Photographer</p>
Auburn Softball at Florida Gators. Photo taken 04-06-23. Cat Wofford/Photographer

Auburn grabs series win over LSU for first time since 2017

The No. 21 Auburn Tigers (32-13 SEC: 9-6), faced off against the No.13 LSU Tigers (34-10 SEC 7-8), Auburn looked to and succeeded in winning their first series over LSU since 2017 after an exciting 1-0 win in extra innings. 

Lindsey Garcia got the weekend started hot with a two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Garcia would be the first of two home run hitters along with Nelia Peralta who had a two-run shot to left in the same vain as Garcia in the fifth inning, ending the fifth inning with the Tigers up 5-0.

"I don't care where I am at in the lineup," Garcia said. "I'm just trying to score runs, come up big for my team, and make things happen. For me, 0-2 means nothing. I approach every pitch like the count is 0-0. I'm locked in and trying to find a strike to hit hard."

KK McCray was the other RBI scorer who had a single to the right side, helping pitcher Maddie Penta cement a winning seven-inning performance giving up six hits, three earned runs, and having a five-strikeout night. 

"Scoring early gives everyone confidence," said head coach Mickey Dean. "I thought we did a nice job of not letting up and continuing to score throughout the game. We had some good at-bats, both hits and walks, that allowed us to build up a big enough cushion to finish them off."

The only blemish on Penta’s record was the top of the seventh inning with two home runs starting with Ali Newland who got a two-run shot, and Karli Petty with a single-shot to left. Despite the flash, LSU was not able to come back from the five-run deficit, as Auburn won 5-3.

Auburn would have a night’s rest before their annual Alumni Game, but LSU would set up the rubbermatch with a 3-2 win. 

"In these games, it always comes down to the small stuff," said head coach Mickey Dean. "The things that you don't recognize like a leadoff walk or a bobble on relay all in one inning. That's the difference in the game. We also had some base running miscues, so it is the little things. As long as our kids keep bringing the energy and keep playing hard, we're going to be fine." 

Garcia would again be a difference maker for Auburn scoring both of Auburn’s runs first with a single in the bottom of the third and a home run in the bottom of the sixth. 

"Lindsey is doing a great job making adjustments," Dean added. "You just hope the younger players on our team follow along and notice the adjustments that Lindsey has been able to make in game. That's part of the process."

LSU would gain their lead from two hits, including a two-run home run in the fourth by Georgia Clark, and a double from McKenzie Redoutey that gave the LSU their three runs and their win, over Auburn 3-2.

Pitching for Auburn was Shelby Lowe and Annabelle Widra, with Lowe pitching the first four innings and earning the loss after giving up two earned runs, with Widra coming in and giving up the other earned run.

"Our pitchers did a nice job," Dean said. "I thought Shelby had a great outing. Anabelle did a nice job. It's always the small things. It's tough as a pitcher. One batter, one pitch can change the outcome of a game. They gave us an opportunity to win the game. There's no doubt about that."

The rubbermatch was set for Sunday, April 16th, Auburn would grab its first series win over LSU since 2017 in an extra inning low-scoring affair after Makayla Parker ended the game with a walk-off single as Auburn rode off with a 1-0 win.

 "Right now, I am very excited I pulled through for my team," Packer said. "Penta was working her butt off, so we knew someone had to step up and have her back. I was just trying to stay focused, stay behind the ball and stay in my legs. It worked out, and we got a huge win that is going to set us up for a successful postseason down the road." 

Both teams took part in a pitching duel, as Maddie Penta held her own for Auburn pitching the first 8.2 innings and only giving up four hits and getting seven strikeouts in the process.

 "That's the kind of game where you're just cheering for the kid in the box because the pitchers on both sides this weekend were lights out," said Dean. "It wasn't like it was bad hitting. It was just phenomenal pitching and defense on both ends. There were a lot of clutch plays from both teams. If you're not coming to these games, you're missing out." 

Shelby Lowe would get the win with one strikeout to end the top of the ninth, her 62nd of the season.

Roelin Chaffin would get the start giving up three hits in the first three innings of the game, Sydney Berzon pitched the last 5.2 innings giving up four hits and the eventual walk-off single to Penta.

"I'm tired but very excited my team pulled through at the end of the game." Penta said. "You don't get many pitching duels anymore. My defense really had my back and made some great plays. I wasn't expecting to get as many strikeouts today because they just don't strike out, but my defense was right there every time." 

Outside of the walk-off, Auburn had a total of seven hits with Aubrie Lisenby going 2-4 with two singles, along with KK McCrary also going 2-4 with a pair of singles.

Auburn finished the series with their first series win over LSU since 2017 and will be sure to help Auburn in the rankings in the run-up to the SEC tournament and NCAA tournament. Auburn will be in competition again this Wednesday against Jacksonville State, before taking a road trip to Tuscaloosa to face off with the Crimson Tide from April 21-23. 

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