AUBURN, Ala. -- Junior Lexi Davis pitched a six-plus inning shutout Friday night at Jane B. Moore Field, helping the No. 9 Auburn softball team to a 5-0 win over No. 12 Kentucky to take a 1-0 lead in the three-game series. Auburn stays perfect in conference play at 4-0 and moves to 30-2 on the year.
Davis had plenty of run support Friday night, getting home runs from sophomore Kasey Cooper and junior Jade Rhodes, but she didn't need much, tossing 6.2 innings of scoreless softball, scattering five hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
The junior stays perfect in the circle this year, now 13-0, notching five or more strikeouts in three of her last four outings. In her last five appearances, Davis has only given up three total runs as she lowered her season ERA Friday night to 1.93.
"Lexi (Davis) threw really well," Auburn head coach Clint Myers said. "We gave her the ball because she had a good week of throwing in the bullpen. She knows what she has to do. She was a workhorse last year and has had a few iffy starts this year. She understands it's about what you do here and now and not in the past. Lexi really pitched lights out tonight."
Offensively, the Tigers were led by Cooper, who went 2-for-3 with the homer, her 11th of the season as she also extended her hitting streak to 16 games, tying the team season-high. It was her two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning that got Auburn out to its lead that it never relinquished.
After junior Emily Carosone reached on a one-out walk, Cooper worked a 10-pitch at-bat and worked the count full against Kentucky pitcher, Kelsey Nunley. Cooper found her pitch and launched it well over the right-centerfield wall for the two-run home run. Cooper has two home runs in her last three games and her total is good for second on the team.
Auburn had multiple chances later in the game to put the Wildcats away, but left the bases loaded multiple times and went without any runs from the second inning through the fourth. Overall tonight, the Tigers left 12 runners on base, a new season-high.
"We have to do a better job of the timely hitting and putting the ball in play," Myers said. "We preach that every day, but this is Kentucky. They were a World Series team last year and everybody got a little excited. We have control the emotion."
Auburn added some insurance in the bottom of the fifth when Rhodes hit her 12th home run of the season. Rhodes, fresh off her five hit weekend at Ole Miss that included four home runs, continued her hot streak Friday night when she hit, yet, another home run to now tie for the team-lead and the
As a team, Auburn has hit 66 home runs this season, which still leads the nation. The Tigers are continuing to average at least two home runs per game this season, while Rhodes is six for her last 10 with five home runs and a triple.
Two more runs came across for the Tigers in the sixth after Kentucky walked in both to push Auburn's lead to 5-0. Kentucky made a pitching change at the start of the inning, taking out starter Kelsey Nunley for Shannon Smith. Nunley finished the game throwing five innings and giving up only three earned runs, suffering her third loss of the year. The sixth was the only inning Smith threw as she gave up the game's final two runs with two walks.
Auburn returns to Jane B. Moore Field for a series ending doubleheader against No. 12 Kentucky tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. Because of the chance of inclement weather on Sunday, the third game of the series has been moved to Saturday, giving fans a full day of Auburn softball. With the first game of the day scheduled for 3 p.m., the second game will start either at 6 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.