Big Innings Lift No. 3 Auburn Past No. 12 Kentucky in Series Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. – In front of a season-high 1,231 fans at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, the No. 12 Kentucky softball team suffered a 9-0 defeat at the hands of the No. 3 Auburn Tigers after three runs in the first inning and five runs in the third inning, which propelled Auburn to the series opener on Friday night.
Meagan Prince fell victim to her first loss in the circle this season on Friday, throwing the first 2.1 innings of the game. Kelsey Nunley then came in to throw 0.2 innings of action before Shannon Smith closed out the game for Kentucky with a great outing, allowing just one run in two full innings.
Kentucky drops just its second Southeastern Conference game of the season and falls to 8-2 in SEC play, but remains in a tie with No. 1 Florida for the top spot in the SEC standings after the Gators lost to Alabama on Friday night in Gainesville.
UK and No. 3 Auburn will play again on Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday’s game slated for a 3 p.m. ET first pitch at John Cropp Stadium. Limited tickets are still available for purchase, but the game is extremely close to selling out. Sunday’s series finale will be at 1 p.m. ET with all remaining games of the series shown live on the SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Two. Friday night was just the second time this season that an opposing SEC team has scored first against Kentucky in 10 league games. The Wildcats are 28-0 this season overall and 7-0 in the SEC when scoring the game’s first run. Last week in Fayetteville, Arkansas scored four times in the top of the first, but UK responded with 12 unanswered to cap off a series sweep of the Razorbacks.
After Auburn put two runners on with no outs to start the game, Meagan Prince got three-hole hitter Kasey Cooper to strikeout for the first out in the inning. After a fielder’s choice failed to score a run, and put runners on the corners with two outs, the Tigers’ Jade Rhodes hit a three-run home run to rightcenter field to give Auburn the early 3-0 lead.
Shannon Smith was the key player for Kentucky on Friday night, allowing just one run on two hits and striking out five of the six batters she got out in the game. Smith pitched the entirety of the fourth and fifth innings on Friday night.
In the top of the first inning, Kentucky gave up three runs to hand the Tigers an early 3-0 lead on a Jade Rhodes three-run homer to centerfield, which scored Carlee Wallace and Tiffany Howard who led off the game with a single to left and a walk. AUB 3, UK 0
Auburn would extend its lead to 8-0 in the top of the third inning after scoring another five runs off three hits and one Kentucky error. With the bases loaded, Wallace plated the first run of the inning on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to put runners on first and second with one out and one in. Two more runs came in to score on a two-base error by the Kentucky defense and a walk with the bases loaded made it 8-0 Tigers after the top of the third was complete. AU 8, UK 0
The Tigers would score their ninth run in the top of the fourth inning as Wallace had a one-out double in the inning off the wall in right center. Rhodes notched her fourth RBI of the game on a single to center to plate the ninth run of the game for AU. FINAL – No. 3 Auburn 9, No. 12 Kentucky 0
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