AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn softball could have at least one more weekend at Jane B. Moore Field this season, but this series against Arkansas was the last one on the schedule right now.
The No. 11 Tigers (38-11, 11-9 SEC) hosted the No. 16 Razorbacks (34-11, 9-9 SEC) for three games in two days, thanks to a rescheduling of Games 2 and 3.
SEC Country had live updates from Jane B. Moore Field this weekend. Stay right here and relive all the action with full recaps and analysis of the SEC softball series.
Game 2: Arkansas 4, Auburn 2 (10)
Game 3: Auburn 4, Arkansas 2
After the 2nd inning of Auburn’s second game against Arkansas on Saturday, Mickey Dean was getting nervous. He saw the frustration on the face of his Tigers.
Auburn dropped Game 1 of the doubleheader in 10 innings. It was down 2-0 after two innings. Senior Day on the Plains was on the verge of turning into a bad night.
“I just pulled them in there after the 2nd inning, because it just looked like they were playing holding their breath,” Dean said. “I told them, ‘Don’t forget to breathe a little bit. It’s a 7-inning ball game, not a 2-inning ball game. We’re OK.'”
Dean’s words resonated. Auburn rallied behind a 2-run homer from senior catcher Courtney Shea and a 2-out, 2-RBI single from junior infielder Kendall Veach to put up a series-clinching 4-2 win over Arkansas.
Auburn lost Game 1 in 10 innings by the same score, 4-2. Senior pitcher Kaylee Carlson, who allowed a 2-run home run in the top of the 10th, bounced back from another allowed homer in the 2nd inning of Game 2 to pick up her 19th win of the season.
“We had to tell each other some stuff, between the pitching coach and me and Courtney,” Carlson said. “We started mixing in changeups, and I think that was the key difference. From then on, it was like night and day.”
The Tigers’ struggles Saturday started with poor defense. Auburn allowed a tying run in the 4th of Game 1 on a throwing error. The Tigers had 4 errors in Game 1 and 2 more in Game 2.
Yet Auburn was able to make up for it at the plate with Shea and Veach. Shea followed up Casey McCrackin’s triple with a 2-run homer, her fifth of the season.
“It’s always fun to hit a home run, but it’s more special when you’re able to help your team,” Shea said. “Any time I can do that, it’s fun for me.”
Shea also led off the rally in the 5th with a single. A few batters later, Veach laced a single into left field to bring Shea’s pinch runner, Brittany Maresette, and designated player Tannon Snow.
“I really learned today that it doesn’t matter about any of your at-bats except for the next one,” Veach said. “You just have to be ready for the last at-bat, because that’s the one that matters.”
Back in the circle, Carlson only faced 7 more batters to slam the door for the win. In the final home regular-season weekend of her career, the California native was the pitcher of record in all three games.
“I knew once I started her in the second game, I wasn’t going to get her out,” Dean said. “She probably would’ve taken me down out there on the field. She wasn’t coming out of the game. That wasn’t even an option.”
Auburn is now 38-11 on the season with an 11-9 SEC record. The Tigers will wrap up league play next weekend at Texas A&M.
Their victorious weekend should be enough to get them another weekend at Jane B. Moore Field — when NCAA Tournament play starts at regionals.
Game 1: Auburn 11, Arkansas 1 (5)
Throughout the season, Auburn softball players have worn specifically colored ribbons in their hair for certain causes. In their final home series of 2018, they picked the cause that meant the most to the program — designated player Tannon Snow and her battle with epilepsy.
Snow’s teammates surprised her with a video message before first pitch Friday night. And with some purple ribbons, Auburn put together its most complete performance in SEC play, with Snow leading the way.
Snow had a pair of hits in a monster 2nd inning for Auburn, which smacked No. 16 Arkansas by a score of 11-1 in 5 innings Friday. The Tigers scored 7 runs in the bottom of the 2nd, using three hits and five walks to begin a beatdown of what was a tough Razorbacks team.
“We used last weekend as a little bit of motivation,” Snow said. “Coming out this weekend, we were excited. Happy to have this weekend. Tonight was a great start.”
Right fielder Alyssa Rivera joined Snow with two hits in the contest. Rivera launched a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 4th to put the Tigers up by 10. That marked the first time since April 1, 2017 that Auburn had scored double-digits in an SEC game.
The run-rule victory was Auburn’s first in SEC play since April 23, 2016 — a 13-2 win over Georgia.
“We left Missouri with a bad taste,” Auburn coach Mickey Dean said. “They worked hard this week. I think that they wanted to show the fans that last weekend wasn’t who they are. It was like playing a football game. You’ve got a week to prepare after a bad loss.”
In the circle, senior Kaylee Carlson bounced back from allowing two late home runs in a loss to Missouri last weekend with 1 hit and 1 walk in 4 shutout innings. Freshman Chardonnay Harris allowed the Razorbacks’ only run in the 5th.
“Last week, we had good run support,” Carlson said. “So, low-key, I was pretty nervous. But we did a great job. We hit the ball. They had patient at-bats, and they were all over it.”
Auburn’s win — which moved the Tigers to 10-8 on the SEC season and 37-10 overall — will go down as one of its most memorable of the 2018 season.
A lot of it had to do with the way it started, with a surprised Snow sparking a 2nd-inning rally against an Arkansas pitching staff that hasn’t given up many big frames.
“They care about each other, and I know that,” Dean said of the Tigers’ pregame honor for Snow. “Even sometimes when they want to be all tough on the outside, the exterior. They’re a great group of kids, I can tell you that right now.”