The Auburn Tigers softball team picked up its first series win over the Alabama Crimson Tide since 2018 with a 3-1 victory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Sunday.
With the win over its in-state rival, Auburn knocked Alabama into a fifth-place tie in the SEC standings, while the Tigers remain tied for third with Arkansas.
In a battle between two of the top pitchers in the SEC, Auburn’s Maddie Penta and Alabama’s Montana Fouts, Penta came out victorious, improving to 21-5 on the season. Penta finished Sunday’s game with eight strikeouts and one walk while allowing one run.
Auburn’s Carlee McCondichie delivered from the ninth spot in the Tigers’ lineup, breaking a 12-game hitless streak with a home run that gave Auburn a 1-0 lead in the third inning. It was McCondichie’s second home run of the season and her first hit since March 27.
“It was a relief,” McCondichie said. “I’ve been struggling at the plate. My dad sent me a Mike Trout video this morning where he said if you go to the plate thinking you’re going to get out, you’ve got no shot. I played with a lot of confidence at the plate today.”
Penta started the afternoon off retiring nine consecutive batters and Alabama did not see its first hit until the bottom of the fourth inning.
With two runners in scoring position, Alabama claimed its first and only run of the game. Shutting down Alabama’s chance to take the lead, Penta secured her fifth strikeout of the game, leaving the go-ahead runner on third.
“I don’t think I have ever cried because of a softball game, but I did shed a singular tear when I gave Bri (Ellis) a hug at first base,” Penta said. “It is so hard to play here. This crowd is insane. Hitters were there for me. Defense was there for me. The defense has been fantastic the last few weeks. They’ve had my back.”
Tied 1-1 at the beginning of the sixth inning, the Tigers picked up momentum after a lead-off single from Nelia Peralta who secured her third straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 from the batter's box. Building off of Peralta’s momentum, Denver Bryant and Ellis gave Auburn the lead with a pair of two-out RBIs. Bryant’s hit accounted for her fifth RBI of the series.
“I was feeling really excited up there, I was facing one of the best pitchers in the nation. I had a lot going on up there,” Ellis said. “I knew I needed to go in with a blank mind and start swinging. It was so loud. I am so proud of everyone on this team. We fought so hard. There’s nothing we can’t do.”
Despite putting a runner on third base in three of the last four innings, Alabama was unable to score due to a locked-in performance from Penta on the mound.
After Alabama knocked a pinch-hit single to bring the winning run up to bat, Penta shut down the Crimson Tide’s seventh-inning comeback. Penta forced a ground ball back to the circle and fielded it to secure the game and the series for the Tigers.
With two series left to play, Auburn is back on the road for the final time in the regular season next weekend. The Tigers will face South Carolina in an SEC matchup. The series begins Friday, April 28 at 5:30 p.m. CST and will be televised on SEC Network+.
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Grace Heim is a sophomore from Enterprise, Alabama majoring in English Literature. She started with The Plainsman in January 2023.