Auburn Softball Team Drops Opener in Play at The Plate
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Auburn Softball Team Drops Opener in Play at The Plate

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May 20, 2003

 Action - Ashely_Griffin_052004

 Ashley Griffin

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Lolani Alvarez singled to right field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Ashley Griffin was thrown out at home by Ashley Lane trying to score the game-tying run as seventh-seeded Hofstra upset second-seeded Auburn, 1-0, in the first round of the NCAA Region VII Tournament at Palo Alto, Calif.

The loss spoiled an outstanding performance by Auburn's Kristen Keyes, who struck out a career-high 17 batters and allowed just one run on four hits in nine innings.

"Kristen has been rock-solid for us all year and she kept us in the game again today," said Auburn head coach Tina Deese. "It's tough for her not to get the win, because she pitched such an outstanding game. She just did an incredible job of keeping Hofstra off balance. She did her job on the mound and the defense backed her up."

Hofstra scored in the top half of the ninth as Lane, the Colonial Athletic Association Freshman of the Year, worked a walk with one out before catcher Meaghan Almon, who applied the tag on Griffin, roped a double down the left-field line. That hit plated Lane for what turned out to be the game-winning run.

Auburn looked to rally in their half of the inning as Griffin got on with a single to right before Sara Ghezzi beat out an infield hit. That brought up Martha Phillips, who flew out to left to set up the final play of the game.

"I was mostly thinking that we needed a baserunner and I was just trying to get on any way I could. I was able to make good contact," Griffin said.

Alvarez laced a single to right field and Griffin was running all the way on the play. The throw from Lane reached home as Griffin did, but she was unable to score as Almon did a good job of blocking the plate.

"The ball came off the bat and I was just thinking to keep running," said Griffin. "I glanced into right field after I rounded third and saw the player make the play. I thought it would have to be a perfect catch and a perfect throw to get me."

The Tigers finished the game with five hits, three in the final frame. Starting pitcher Callie Osborne was outstanding for the Pride, allowing just two hits in 7 2/3 innings. She struck out two and walked a pair but did not receive the decision.

Adrienne Clark entered in the eighth to get the final out before hurling the dramatic ninth. She got the win to improve to 11-12 on the season.

Auburn had a scoring chance thwarted in the second when Ghezzi singled with one out. She moved to second on Phillips' ground out to bring up Alvarez, who lined a shot only to have second baseman Lisa Wombold make a leaping grab to snow-cone the ball for the final out.

In the third, Lauren Walton led off with a single for Auburn's final hit before the ninth. Following Walton, Osborne retired 12 in a row before Paige Jones led off the seventh with a walk.

Hofstra's ended Keyes shutout streak at 26 innings, which dated back to the SEC Tournament. On the other side, the Tigers have been shutout for the past 22 innings and have suffered two consecutive 1-0 defeats.

"You're going to have good days and bad days," Keyes said. "Offensively, we had an off day and that happens to the best of teams. But our defense played great and my job was to keep us in the game and I think did that."

It was the fifth extra-inning game for Auburn as the team fell to 3-2 in those contests. The Tigers also dropped to 13-6 in one-run games after losing in the opponents final at bat for the fifth time this year.

The loss places Auburn into the losers bracket where they will face No. 3 seed Fresno State on Thursday at 10 p.m. CDT in an elimination game. The Bulldogs were upset earlier in the day by Southern Illinois, 2-0.

"Fresno State will be just as hungry as we will be. It's going to come down to who wants it more," Keyes said. "But we need to play like a team ranked 12th in the nation. Our team needs to come out and prove ourselves, we haven't done that yet in this region tournament."

The Pride upset a No. 2 seed for the second consecutive year in the NCAA Tournament, having beaten Nebraska last year in the opening round. They move on to face the Salukis on Friday.