March 11, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
The 20th-ranked Auburn softball opened Southeastern Conference play with a doubleheader sweep of Kentucky Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers won game one, 2-1, then took game two, 3-0.
Beth DiPietro (8-1) and Holly Currie (10-2) both earned victories on the day as the Tigers continued their dominance from the circle. Auburn (18-4 overall, 2-0 SEC) has allowed just 10 runs in its last seven games.
"Beth and Holly really controlled each game from the circle," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "Both kept their batters off balance, and aside from a few hits apiece, did not allow a Kentucky batter to really figure them out."
DiPietro threw 6 1/3 innings in game one, striking out four while walking one. The junior allowed three hits during that span and her lone run allowed came in Kentucky's half of the fourth on a wild pitch.
DiPietro has now won four straight games dating back to March 1 against Southern Miss.
"Beth has impressed early on this season," Deese said. "Against Kentucky, she got ahead in the count and hit her corners. She really looked good in her first SEC start of the season."
Auburn scored solo runs in the first and third innings, and held off Kentucky (12-8, 0-2) the rest of the way. Junior Kristina McCain hit her third home run of the season in the first, sending a 1-1 pitch over the left center field wall to give Auburn the early lead.
Freshman Tatiana Fernandez gave the Tigers the cushion they needed in the third. Senior Ashley Griffin doubled to center with two outs, and was driven in by Fernandez on the next at bat for the catcher's 18th RBI of the season.
Currie came on in relief midway through the seventh and threw the final 2/3 of the game for her second save of the season. She inherited one runner from DiPietro, but proceeded to strike out two to end the game.
Amy Kendall picked up the loss for Kentucky, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings. She fell to 5-3 on the year.
The Tigers did not leave as much to chance in the second game, although it took awhile for the team to get on the board. Auburn and Kentucky battled for three full innings before the Tigers were able to score two in the fourth and another in the fifth to get Currie her 10th win of the season.
Senior Robin Martin began the fourth with a single up the middle, and with two outs after stealing second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch. A batter later and with McCain at second, Martin scored on another wild pitch.
Griffin then drove in her only run of the day with a single to center, giving Auburn a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers ended the day's scoring in the fifth when freshman Tara Donaldson drove in her third run of the season.
Kentucky's Jessica Trueblood fell to 4-4 on the season after giving up 10 hits and three runs over five innings. She walked three and struck out three in the loss.
Currie continued her dominance game two as the junior struck out seven in a full seven innings of work. She walked three and allowed two hits in her 15th appearance and 10th start of the season. She has not allowed an earned run since giving up one to then-No. 5 Michigan on Feb. 28.
"That was a great first day of SEC play," Deese said. "The key now will be to keep it up Sunday and close out the series with a sweep of Kentucky. That will be a challenge against a hungry Wildcat club."
The Tigers and Wildcats will finish up the three-game series with a solo contest on Sunday at Jane B. Moore Field. The game, which starts at 1 p.m. CT., can be heard on WZMG-AM (910) and on the Internet at www.auburntigers.com.
TIGER NOTES: The Tigers wore their blue uniforms for both games ... Auburn is now 12-2 in the blues this season ... The Tigers are now 7-1 in the month of March ... The team went 16-4 in March last season ... Of the Tigers' six hits in game one, four went for extra bases, including three doubles ... Freshman Tara Donaldson started her first career game in the second contest, and played as the designated player in the seventh spot in the batting order ... Donaldson is the seventh different Tiger to bat in the seventh spot of the order this season ... Auburn has now won 13 of its last 14 games against Kentucky.