March 22, 2005
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The 25th-ranked Auburn softball team took the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday against No. 9 Alabama, 4-2, at the Alabama Softball Complex, but saw the second game delayed to a tornado warning in the Tuscaloosa area.
The second game will be resumed at 2 p.m. CT Wednesday, followed by the regularly scheduled game. The first game will start in the bottom of the first, with two outs, Alabama runners at first and second and Stephanie VanBrakle up to bat with a 2-2 count. Auburn holds a 1-0 lead after scoring in the top half of the inning on a Holly Currie double.
“We’re in a good position to start tomorrow,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Obviously, we want to be safe and make sure everyone is OK.”
The warning came after the Tigers (30-7 overall, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) won their first game in Tuscaloosa in their last nine tries against the Crimson Tide (31-7, 4-3). It also marked Auburn’s first victory at the Alabama Softball Complex against Alabama, with the facility being completed in 2000. Auburn did, however, win three games at the complex last season in the SEC Tournament, although none came against the Crimson Tide.
Auburn mounted a comeback in the first game, coming back from two-down with two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Kristina McCain singled to center with one out in the sixth, driving in Amy Shaw, and on a subsequent error by Alabama’s center fielder, watched as Lauren Walton came around to score with the tying run. Shaw had been pinch running for Anne Norton, who singled up the middle as a pinch hitter. Walton, the second batter of the inning, backed up Norton’s base hit with an infield single.
Auburn took the lead for good in the seventh on a triple by Lolani Alvarez, scoring Paige Jones. Alvarez immediately scored with Shaw at the plate on an attempted Alabama pickoff. Auburn’s senior scored on a throwing error.
“Those were two very big innings for us,” Deese said. “We hadn’t been able to get a run up to that point, but our players really showed resolve. They learned in previous at bats and really came through in the clutch.”
Beth DiPietro picked up her 15th victory of the season, working 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs and four hits while striking out four. Currie came on in relief of DiPietro in the seventh, and shut down the Alabama threat, earning the Pisgah, Ala., native her fourth save of the season.
Walton paced the Auburn offensive attack with two hits, while Sara Ghezzi and Alvarez both had extra base hits.
Stephanie VanBrakle picked up the loss for Alabama, falling to 14-4 on the season. She allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings.
Both games Wednesday can be followed live on the Internet at www.auburntigers.com, or in the Auburn area at WANI-AM (1400).
TIGER NOTES: Prior to the game, Auburn gained four points in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll ... The Tigers are receiving seven points, a week after earning three ... The games marked the first time since 2000 Auburn and Alabama faced off in the month of March ... The teams played two games on March 31, 2000, with the Crimson Tide winning both in a series that was played in Auburn ... Sara Dean’s two starts against the Crimson Tide gave her 219 career games played in, bumping her into third place all-time in Auburn history, surpassing Mary Petrie, who played in 218 from 1998-2001 ... Of those 219 games, Dean has now started 214, fourth-most in Auburn history ... Of course, the second start will only become official on Wednesday ... Beth DiPietro hit three batters in the first game, eclipsing the team’s previous high of two, set three times, most recently March 12 against Arkansas ... DiPietro has now hit 10 batters this season, second-most in the SEC this season, trailing only Tennessee’s Monica Abbott, who hit 15 coming into the week.