Homers Power No. 9 Auburn Past No. 12 Softball in Opener
AUBURN, Ala. - A two-run home run by Auburn sophomore Kasey Cooper in the first inning followed by a solo shot in the fifth inning by junior first baseman Jade Rhodes, paced the No. 9 Tigers to a series-opening 5-0 victory over No. 12 Kentucky on Friday night at Jane B. Moore Field.
The three-game Southeastern Conference series will continue with a doubleheader Saturday at Moore Field starting at 4 p.m. ET. The doubleheader was scheduled in anticipation of heavy rain moving into the Auburn area Sunday morning. Both games Saturday will be live on SEC Network+ through the WatchESPN app and live stats will be available online at UKathletics.com.
The loss for Kentucky (21-6, 1-3 Southeastern Conference) snapped a season-best eight-game winning streak for the Wildcats, which tied the third longest winning streak in program history.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley started in the circle and tossed five innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks. She received the loss in the game, moving to 9-3 on the season with a 1.83 earned run average in 76.1 innings pitched. Sophomore Shannon Smith came on to throw the sixth inning and allowed two earned runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Offensively, Kentucky was led by senior catcher Griffin Joiner, who went 2-for-3 in the game with two singles, while juniors Christian Stokes and Maisie Steed, and freshman Erin Rethlake each had hits in the game. Stokes has now reached base safely in eight straight games, while Steed has a 10-game reached base streak going.
Auburn (30-2, 4-0 SEC) had seven hits in the game, including home runs from Cooper and Rhodes. Cooper went 2-for-3 in the game with two runs scored and a two-run home run, while Rhodes was 1-for-3 with a solo home run and two RBI. Outfielder Tiffany Howard was 1-for-3 with a run scored, while Branndi Melero, Morgan Estell and Carlee Wallace each had hits.
Lexi Davis received the win to move to 13-0 on the season, tossing 6.2 scoreless innings with five hits allowed and five strikeouts. Rachael Walters came on to pitch to one batter to start the top of the seventh inning before Davis came back in to finish off the win.
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Kentucky - No. 13 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 12 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Auburn - No. 9 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 11 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Friday, March 19
Auburn def. Kentucky 5-0
Saturday, March 20
Kentucky at Auburn - 4 p.m. ET - Live Stats - SEC Network+
Kentucky at Auburn - 7 p.m. ET - Live Stats - SEC Network+