The No. 8 Tennessee softball team traveled to Alabama this past weekend for a three-game conference series against the No. 11 Auburn Tigers, in need of a series win after losing its last two to South Carolina and Georgia.
The Lady Vols came up short of that goal on Sunday, dropping game three to the Tigers, 6-0, to lose their third straight conference series.
In a defensive struggle, Tennessee got off to a good start in game one, topping Auburn 2-1 in extra innings on Friday.
Both teams were held scoreless in the first five innings, but in the top half of the sixth, the Lady Vols saw their offense kick started thanks to leadoff hitter junior Aubrey Leach, who doubled into left field to get into scoring position.
Two at-bats later, senior Meghan Gregg drove in Leach with a groundout to short, making it a 1-0 Tennessee advantage. Auburn would answer back in the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer from Courtney Shea to tie the game up at 1-1.
Tennessee’s leading run was on second in the top of the eighth thanks to another double from Leach. Senior Scarlet McSwain grounded out at short to advance Leach to third.
Sophomore Chelsea Seggern, facing two outs, sent an RBI into center field to score Leach, making a 2-1 game. Junior Matty Moss (15-3) then shut the door on any attempt by the Tigers to tie or win the game in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win.
Moss closed out the game with four strikeouts in over two innings of action.
Game two of the series on Saturday saw another contest dominated by defense between the two teams, but this time it was Auburn that came out on top, blanking Tennessee 2-0.
The story of the day was pitching, as Tennessee’s Moss and Auburn’s Makayla Martin dominated batters in the circle. Both pitchers combined to give up just three hits in the game, but it was Martin who came out on top.
Tennessee’s only hit of the game came from Leach, who reached first on a single into left field in the top of the sixth inning.
It wasn’t enough for the Lady Vols, however, as a two-run homer from Auburn’s Casey McCrakin proved to be the difference.
Moss followed up her impressive performance on Friday night with five strikeouts and just two hits in six innings in the loss.
In the series finale on Sunday, Auburn used strong pitching and a five-run fifth inning to shut out Tennessee. Auburn right-hander Kaylee Carlson held Tennessee’s batters scoreless while only giving up three hits in the contest in seven innings of play.
The Tigers scored a run in the bottom half of the second to take an early 1-0 lead.
The game appeared to be another pitchers’ duel over the course of the next two innings, but Auburn plated five more runs in the bottom of the sixth to run away with a 6-0 conference victory.
Junior Aubrey Leach, freshman Amanda Ayala and junior Katie Weimer were the only Lady Vols to get a hit in the loss.
Sophomore pitcher Caylan Arnold (14-4) had four strikeouts, allowing four hits and two runs in five innings.
Next up for Tennessee will be a mid-week instate showdown with the Memphis Tigers on Tuesday. The game will be played in Columbia, TN.
The Lady Vols will resume SEC play on Friday when they host No. 14 LSU (32-7, 7-4) in the first of a three-game series at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.