The series began in controversial fashion and it ended in contentious fashion as Auburn dropped 2 of 3 against the #1 Gators in Gainesville this Saturday through Monday.
Game 1, 3-4 Florida
This is a game that Auburn should have won. The Tigers led going into the Bottom of the 7th. They were up 3-2 even though Florida was gifted a run early in the game on a contested call that replay clearly showed should have gone the Tigers' way. Even with that, the Tigers still should have won.
Unfortunately, there were some very uncharacteristic defensive errors at just the wrong time. First, Haley Fagan bobbled a normally routine ground ball that allowed a runner on base. Then, a few plays later, a routine pop fly that should have ended the game bounced out of the glove of the Auburn defender and fell to the ground. The Gators were able to get two runners across the plate and end up with the 4-3 victory.
Kaylee Carlson picked up her first loss of the season in this one. It stinks because she did everything right throughout the game. Both of the defensive errors were on plays that should have been made by the fielders behind her. Meanwhile, the Tigers' bats provided her with 3 runs as support, which is more than most teams have put up on the Gators this year. The three runs came in the 4th and 5th inning on a Victoria Draper RBI single in the 4th, a Courtney Shea double and Casey McCrackin sacrifice bunt in the 5th.
Game 2, 0-7 Florida
Looking to bounce back in Game 2, the Tigers just couldn't get the bats going with only Kasey Cooper scoring two hits against the Gators' ace. Makayla Martin held the Gators fairly well in check early on, allowing only a single run in the 1st and 4th innings before the Gators broke things open in the 5th, scoring 5 runs.
This was the first time all season Auburn has dropped 2 games in a row, and it marks the first series loss of the year, too. Looking to salvage a game and avoid the sweep, the Tigers looked to Monday's closing game.
Game 3, 1-0 Auburn
Kaylee Carlson came back to the mound for Game 3 and pitched a gem of a game, allowing only three hits. Florida's pitcher was on her game, as well, but the deciding factor was a Kendall Veach long ball in the 2nd Inning. It was the only run scored for the whole game.
After the game, there was a bit of an incident between Florida's coach Tim Walton and Haley Fagan. I don't know the story, but I did read that there is no love lost between Walton and the Fagan family. [UPDATE: Here's the story] Haley didn't have her hand up for a high-five and Walton brushed her shoulder with his. The reaction was, as you would suspect, quite negative.
Auburn shortstop Haley Fagan and Florida coach Tim Walton get into it afterwards. Fagan didn't have her hand up, Walton got her shoulder. pic.twitter.com/UJ1lH1b5Dc— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) March 28, 2017
It's frustrating that Auburn had to salvage one game in this series. It's even more frustrating that a call early in Game 1 had such a large impact. There's no guarantee that Auburn wins Game 1 if that call goes the Tigers' way, but at the least, we likely would have been in extra innings rather than the Gators getting a walk-off win.
The Tigers' next series is against the UGA Bulldogs in Athens. The Bulldogs have been doing fairly well themselves this season, with a current 26-7 record though they are only 2-4 in conference. Auburn needs to get the bats going again and bounce back from the series loss to the Gators and get back on track with this weekend's series.