Auburn softball headed to the Sunshine State for a five-game slate in the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational starting Feb. 17 and concluding Feb. 20.
Auburn took on Texas Tech for its first win in the tournament on Thursday, Feb. 17 with a final score of 7-1.
The first inning for both teams was uneventful, with Tech going three up, three down. Auburn managed to draw a two-out walk, but that runner was left stranded to end the inning.
Texas Tech struck first in the top of the second inning, scoring a run on a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. This run also counted as Auburn sophomore Shelby Lowe’s first earned run of the season.
The Tigers came storming back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead from the Red Raiders. The first run came off of a Denver Bryant RBI single up the middle. A pair of fielding errors by Texas Tech allowed another run for the Tigers to score, putting them on top after two completed innings.
More offensive action came in the bottom of the fourth inning for Auburn, with freshman Jessie Blaine launching her first collegiate home run with two outs. This gave the Tigers some cushion heading into the second half of the game with a score of 3-1.
The Tigers got on an offensive tear in the bottom of the fifth inning, recording three straight singles by sophomore Makayla Packer, sophomore Sydney Cox and freshman Nelia Peralta to score one run with one out.
With runners on the corner, the consecutive hits made the Tech coaching staff pull starting pitcher Kendall Fritz after four and a third innings pitched.
The pitching change didn’t matter to freshman Bri Ellis, who was the first batter faced by the new pitcher Olivia Rains. Ellis hit her second home run of the year, a three run shot, to put the Tigers up on the Red Raiders by a score of 7-1.
Shelby Lowe’s afternoon came to a close after five complete innings, pitching for one earned run with three strikeouts and one walk.
Lowe shut down the Red Raider offense after allowing the one earned run in the top of the second inning, earning her fourth win of the season to bring her record to 4-0 and her ERA to 0.61.
Sophomore Maddie Penta came on in relief of Lowe in the top of the sixth inning. After giving up a lead-off single to start the inning, Penta sat down the next three Texas Tech hitters to leave a runner stranded on second base.
Penta also pitched the top of the seventh to seal the Auburn win while also collecting three strikeouts to bring her ERA to 0.78.
The Tigers hit for a team batting average of .269, collecting seven hits and six RBIs.
Bryant led the team with two hits, one of them being her second triple of the season. The two home runs by the freshmen Ellis and Blaine added four security runs as well as four RBIs to Auburn’s team total to beat Texas Tech.
Auburn won both of its games against Wisconsin and No. 9 Texas Friday, bringing its Clearwater Invitational record to 3-0.
The Tigers faced Wisconsin for their first win of the day with a final score of 9-3.
Auburn started off the game with a bang by scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. With two runners on base with no outs, freshman Nelia Peralta hit a two-RBI single to put the Tigers up 2-0. Later in the inning, with two more runners on base and two outs, freshman Jessie Blaine plated two more Auburn runs with a single to bring the first-inning total to four.
Sophomore Shelby Lowe got the start for the second game in a row for the Tigers, and was rolling through the first two innings, collecting two strikeouts and stranding one runner in the bottom of the second. The only action for the Tigers at the plate in the second inning was a Makayla Packer home run. This was her third homer, which already matches her total from the 2021 season.
Lowe did run into some trouble in the bottom of the third inning, where she gave up her first home run of the season with one out to put the score at 5-1. However, she sat down the next two out of three batters to get out of the inning.
The Tiger offense became stagnant in the middle innings of the game, but Lowe kept rolling through the Wisconsin lineup after giving up the solo home run in the third inning. Through five innings, Lowe has collected eight strikeouts, two walks and has only given up two hits (home run and a single).
Auburn’s offense picked back up in the top of the sixth inning. Freshman Jessie Blaine started the inning off with a leadoff triple, putting a runner in scoring position with no outs. Junior Carlee McCondichie delivered with a two-run home run with one out to add to Auburn’s total to make the score 7-1.
More action came with two outs for the Tigers. With two runners on, Bri Ellis hit an RBI double to plate another run for the Tigers, bringing the game score to 8-1 after six complete innings.
Auburn had some late action in the top of the seventh inning. With two outs, sophomore Denver Bryant hit a solo home run to put the Tigers up 9-3 before the inning came to a close.
After five complete innings from Shelby Lowe, senior Samantha Yarbrough entered the circle for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth inning. Yarbrough collected two strikeouts, a walk and two earned runs before the Tigers got out of the inning. Yarbrough had a clean inning to end the game for the Tigers, bringing their Clearwater record to 2-0 to start the double-header.
Auburn next earned its biggest win of the season, taking down No. 9 Texas 6-2 to bring its season record to 8-0. This win is also the Tigers’ first ranked win of the season.
The Tigers struck early in the top of the first inning, scoring four runs on three hits to go up 4-0 early on the Longhorns. Packer started the game off with a leadoff home run, and a walk to Cox, a single for Peralta and a three-run home run by Ellis brought the run total to four for Auburn.
Sophomore pitcher Maddie Penta saw her first start in the tournament against Texas. She rolled through the first inning, but found some trouble in the bottom of the second inning when she gave up two runs and one hit to bring the game score 4-2.
The game became a pitchers’ duel between the Tigers and the Longhorns, with no action coming offensively from either team until the top of the sixth inning, when Auburn scored two more runs to bring the team total to 6-2. One run came from a Jessie Blaine RBI single and the other came from a Longhorn error.
Auburn also made several nice defensive plays in the game. Sydney Cox made a nice play to first from her knees for the third out in the bottom of the fourth inning. Freshman catcher Aubrey Lisenby made the next nice defensive play in the next inning, when she layed out for a pop-up behind the plate for the second out of the inning.
Maddie Penta earned her third win of the season with the win over Texas. She pitched seven complete innings, totalling two earned runs, nine strikeouts, three walks and two hits. She threw for 109 pitches, bringing her season ERA to 1.22.
Several players for the Tigers also stood out offensively. Bri Ellis led the way for Auburn, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Makayla Packer also had a memorable day for the Tigers, going 1-for-4 with a home run and an RBI.
Auburn experienced its first loss of the season in the Clearwater Invitational against No. 3 UCLA Saturday morning.
This game was a pitcher’s duel early on. Between Auburn sophomore Shelby Lowe and UCLA redshirt senior Holly Azevedo, the two pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts, no runs, two hits and only one walk through three complete innings.
The Bruins struck first in the top of the fourth inning, hitting a double and a single with one out to put the first run of the game on the board. After another run scored by the Bruins via a triple, Lowe was taken out after three and a third innings pitched with the 2-0 score favoring the Bruins. Through those innings, Lowe totalled four strikeouts, two earned runs, two hits and no walks.
Sophomore Maddie Penta took over in the circle for the Tigers. Penta, 3-0, was coming off her win over No. 9 Texas yesterday.
With a runner on third from Lowe, the first batter Penta faced hit a single up the middle, bringing the score to 3-0 and adding another earned run to Lowe’s total. Even with bases eventually loaded with two outs, Penta got out of the jam to keep the score at 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
UCLA added on to its team total in the top of the sixth inning, hitting three home runs and scoring six to put it up 9-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth against senior Samantha Yarbrough. The Bruins totalled five hits in the frame, and this was good enough to earn the run-rule win over Auburn, giving the Tigers their first loss of the season.
Auburn’s young roster began to show against UCLA’s senior pitcher Azevedo. The team collected only two hits throughout the entire game. Those hits were a triple for junior Lindsey Garcia and a double for freshman Nelia Peralta. The team totalled 11 strikeouts and only walked once. The Tigers also left three on base, two of those being from the aforementioned hits.
Auburn won its game against USF 5-1 to bring its final Clearwater Invitational record to 4-1.
Maddie Penta got the start for the Tigers in the circle, earning her fourth win of the season in the victory. Penta pitched for five innings, totaling five strikeouts, one walk, three hits and only gave up one earned run.
Auburn struck first in the game, scoring in the top of the second inning to put the Tigers up 1-0. A lead-off single by Lindsey Garcia was batted around and eventually scored by a ground ball hit by Carlee McCondichie.
More action came for the Tigers in the top of the fourth inning. A walk followed by a Jessie Blaine single and a Denver Bryant double plated two more runs for Auburn. The new score after the half inning was 3-0.
Auburn added on to its total in the top of the fifth inning, with a solo Nelia Peralta home run to bring the score to 4-0.
The Bulls got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. A lead-off double was cashed in by USF to bring the score to 4-1 after five complete innings.
Shelby Lowe entered the game in relief of Penta and earned her first save of the year by pitching the last two innings. In those innings, Lowe struck out five batters to shut down the Bull bats and any hope of catching up to the Tigers.
Auburn scored one more run in the top of the seventh inning to grow its lead over USF. After being hit by a pitch, Makayla Packer stole two bases and then scored on a sac-fly by Bri Ellis to reach the final game score of 5-1.
The Tigers play their next game on Wednesday, Feb. 23 against Jacksonville State on the road.