Auburn's defense made some spectacular plays throughout the weekend series against Florida. Unfortunately, Florida was able to go yard when they needed it most.
Any of these games could have gone either way. The Gators just made the plays that they needed to more than Auburn did. The Tigers, who had previously only lost a single game, fell to 23-3 on the year. The loss in Monday's game was Florida's first loss of the 2016 season.
Saturday (3-6 Loss)
Two swings of the bat were the difference in Saturday's game. Florida took a 3-0 lead thanks to a 3 run home run in the 3rd inning. Auburn scored one back in the fourth and two more in the 6th to tie the game. Then Florida launched another 3 run home run to take the 6-3 lead into the final half inning. Auburn wasn't able to do anything, and the game was over.
For all of the runs scored, freshman Mikayla Martin did a good job in her first SEC outing. She pitched for 3.2 innings before being replaced by Lexi Davis. Davis was not touched in her three innings, though two of the runs were credited to her. Rachel Walters came in to finish it off and gave up the late game home run.
Both of Florida's home runs came on 1-2 counts.
Sunday (5-8 Loss)
Auburn jumped out to the lead early in Sunday's contest with a run in the first inning. Florida tied it up in the 2nd, then took a 2 run lead in the 3rd. Auburn came back with back-to-back home runs by Kasey Cooper and Carlee Wallace in the bottom half of the inning for the Tigers. Auburn would add 1 more in the 5th, but that wasn't enough to overcome Florida's 3 runs in the 4th, 1 in the 5th, and another in the 7th. The Gators came away with the 8-5 victory over the home team.
Monday (5-4 Victory)
Again Auburn took an early lead thanks to a Jade Rhodes 2-run shot in the 2nd inning. Florida added 1 in the 4th, but then hit yet another 1-2 count 3 run homer in the 5th. The Tigers would add another Emily Carosone home run in the 5th to cut the lead to 1.
Auburn went into the bottom of the 7th needing a run to extend the game and they picked it up on a walk by pinch hitter Emily Spain. Victoria Draper took her spot at 1st, was advanced on a passed ball, then a Tiffany Howard ground ball moved her to 3rd with Emily Carosone at the plate. Carosone hit a ground ball and Florida attempted to get the runner at home, but Draper crossed the plate to tie the game.
Kasey Cooper followed with a single of her own to put two on board with only one out. Carlee Wallace hit a ground ball that moved the runners again with Jade Rhodes to the plate. Rhodes hit another on the ground and the first baseman couldn't hold on (I think Rhodes was safe anyway), and the winning run crossed the plate for the Tigers!
Stories of the Series
Giving Up Home Runs. Florida is the #1 team in the country for a reason, but it's still disappointing to see how many home runs the Tigers' pitching gave up. The Tigers had previously only given up 3 home runs in the whole season. If Auburn can get those on the ground, then the excellent defense could have come into play and cut the damage.
Hitting Home Runs. This is the good side. Florida had not given up more than 2 runs in a game so far this year, but the Tigers stacked up 3, 5, and ___. A big reason for that was Auburn's ability to go yard. Emily Carosone, Jade Rhodes, Kasey Cooper, and Carlee Wallace all picked up home runs.
Lack Of Production From Bottom Of The Order. The top half of Auburn's batting order is as deadly as anyone's in the nation. Maybe even the best. Where Auburn really needs to get production is from the second half of the order.
What's A Strike? This is something I've noticed more than just in this series, but can we get some consistency in the strike zone in Softball?