After dropping a close Game 1 to Florida on Saturday night, Auburn softball didn’t have much of a chance in Game 2, thanks to one of the nation’s most dominant pitchers.
The No. 4 Tigers lost, 7-0, to No. 2 Florida in Gainesville on Sunday evening, giving them back-to-back losses for the first time in the 2017 season.
Auburn (27-5, 3-3 SEC) only manufactured two hits — both from Kasey Cooper — against Florida (29-1, 7-0 SEC) pitcher Kelly Barnhill, who struck out 16 of the 25 Tigers she faced. Barnhill entered the game as the country’s No. 2 pitcher in ERA and left with the best at 0.19.
WEEKEND REWIND: Auburn drops heartbreaker to Florida in final inning
The Tigers didn’t provide much support for starting pitcher Makayla Martin, who fell to 12-4 on the season. Auburn only had four base runners, who were created by a single and a double from Cooper, a walk from Haley Fagan and a hit by pitch from Courtney Shea.
Florida notched its first two runs with small ball before exploding for five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Gators scored in every single inning in which they put their leadoff hitter on base.
Auburn’s offense recorded double-digit strikeouts for the first time in March.
The Tigers hitters got off to a slower start this season as a whole with double-digit strikeouts in three games during the month of February — Oklahoma, Washington and James Madison.
Auburn did a better job at the plate since the 1-0 loss to the dominant JMU pitching staff on Feb. 28. But the matchup against Barnhill brought back some old frustrations. Barnhill’s 16 strikeouts set a season high for a pitcher against Auburn’s offense, with the previous high coming in a 10-inning loss to Washington.
What’s next for Auburn softball
The Tigers will try to avoid the sweep Monday night in the Florida road trip finale.
Auburn wraps up an unorthodox weekend series Monday night with Game 3 against Florida. The Tigers are still looking for their first road win in Gainesville in 11 years. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. Kaylee Carlson (15-1) is the projected starting pitcher for Auburn.