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A spirit that is not afraid

UCF fends off Auburn after coming back from four-run deficit

Auburn Softball loses second game of the series against Alabama at Jane B. Moore Field with extra innings on May 3rd 2024
Auburn Softball loses second game of the series against Alabama at Jane B. Moore Field with extra innings on May 3rd 2024

Starting their NCAA journey, head coach Mickey Dean and his Auburn Tigers (27-20-1) were eager to start the weekend off with a win over the UCF Knights (31-23) in the first round of the Tallahassee, FL regionals. However, the Knights shut down the Tigers’ hope on Friday, dominating 11-6. 

Auburn claimed an early four-run lead over UCF, until the Knights gained offensive momentum in the sixth, scoring six runs to secure the win. 

“Both teams battled,” said head coach Mickey Dean. “We didn’t do what we wanted to do throughout the whole entire seven innings. We had opportunities to add some runs.”

Thanks to right fielder Chloe Evans’ double and shortstop Jasmine Williams’ single in the first gave the Knights a 2-0 lead, but the Tigers matched UCF’s two runs with their own at the bottom of the second. 

Auburn’s offense struck again, this time in the third, to score four runs. With bases loaded, right fielder Icess Tresvik and pinch runner Riley McNemar scored, making it a 4-2 game. 

The Tigers scored two additional runs, thanks to the Knight’s fielding error and left fielder Kaitlyn McCrary’s sacrifice fly to left field, and held this lead till the fifth. 

In the final three innings, UCF showcased its offensive strength by scoring nine runs. 

The Knights dominated the offensive front, logging 11 runs, 15 hits – two doubles and three home runs – and 11 RBIs in 34 at-bats. Comparatively, the Tigers recorded six runs, eight hits – three doubles – and five RBIs in 29 at-bats. 

Auburn’s pitching staff started strong in the pitching circle, keeping UCF to two runs and three scoreless frames, but the Tigers’ bullpen fell apart after giving up two runs in the fifth then seven subsequent runs. 

“Our defense played well,” Dean said. “Our pitchers struggled to put their hitters away. We gave up eight two-strike hits. That’s a lot. Putting it in play is one thing, but giving up those doubles, home runs with two strikes is hard. We know our pitchers are better than that.”

RHP Maddie Penta started for the Tigers and pitched 4.2 innings. Penta showcased her defensive talent, logging six strikeouts with no walks, four allowed runs and eight hits. 

Coming to Penta’s relief, LHP Shelby Lowe earned her sixth loss after allowing five hits and six runs in 1.2 innings pitched.  

RHP Annabelle Widra relieved Lowe at the top of the seventh. However, her appearance was brief as she pitched one inning where she had one allowed run and two hits. 

Entering the loser bracket, the Tigers return to JoAnne Graf Field to face either the Florida State Seminoles or the Chattanooga Mocs on Saturday.

Caitlyn Griffin | Sports Reporter

Caitlyn Griffin is a sophomore from Huntsville, Alabama, majoring in journalism. She started with The Plainsman in fall 2022. 

Twitter: @caitlyngrif99

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