Ole Miss Softball falls to No. 19 Auburn in pitcher’s duel

Published 12:00 pm Monday, April 3, 2023

AUBURN, Ala. –Brooke Vestal and Catelyn Riley were nearly unhittable in the circle Sunday afternoon, but an unearned run was all Auburn needed to come away with a 1-0 victory.

The Rebels (21-16, 2-7 SEC) kept the Auburn (28-10, 6-3 SEC) hitless for five innings of play and only allowed one the entire game. The defense was impressive despite committing two errors. Mikayla Allee and Tate Whitley were the only two Rebels to tally base hits, while Jalia Lassiter walked twice.

Brooke Vestal was spinning it through the first two innings, striking out three of her seven batters faced. Auburn did however manage to steal a run in the bottom of the third as a two-out walk came around to score unearned. The Tiger batter walked and got caught in a rundown between first and second, while the runner at third managed to score before the third out was recorded to give Auburn a 1-0 lead.

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Looking to answer in the fourth, Lassiter reached on a leadoff walk. The very next play, Smith doubled off the wall but after a discussion, the runner at first left early, offsetting the play. Smith was put back at the plate with one out at was retired along with Allee to end the wild inning.

The Tigers threatened again in the bottom half of the inning. With a runner on and one out, Ole Miss turned to Catelyn Riley in the circle. Auburn moved a pair of runners into scoring position with two outs after a fielding error, but Riley and the defense held strong to strand both and keep it a one-run game.

Ole Miss made an impressive defensive stand in the fifth and sixth innings to keep within striking distance. Savana Sikes read the Tigers perfectly and thwarted a sacrifice bunt attempt, cutting off the lead runner at second, and Jamie Mackay caught the Auburn runner stealing the following pitch to empty the bases.

Auburn got its first hit of the game, a single up the middle, in the sixth to break up the no-hitter, but Sikes snared a line drive the very next play and fired it over to first to double up the Tigers.

Still chasing a run down to final its three outs, Lassiter walked to lead off the seventh, but the freshman was caught on the basepaths for the first out of the inning. Smith and Allee followed suit, unable to rally, giving Auburn the series victory with a 1-0 win in the rubber match.

The Rebels are back in action with a midweek at home against UT Martin on April 4 at 6 p.m. CT. The Tuesday night tilt is slated to appear on SEC Network.