TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Trailing by a run, Auburn softball (27-23) loaded the bases in the top of the seventh, but the Tigers fell short as a game-ending double play carried UCF (40-17-1) to a 5-4 win Friday afternoon at JoAnne Graf Field in game one of the Tallahassee Regional.
Auburn struck in the first inning to take an early lead, but UCF used a five-run second inning to pull back ahead. The Tigers also put up a crooked number on the scoreboard in the second to cut UCF's lead to 5-4 but could not find a way to push across the equalizing run.
"We put ourselves in a position to either tie it up or win it," said head coach Mickey Dean. "We kept battling and battling. It just didn't happen."
Alyssa Rivera led Auburn at the plate as she went 3-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored. Friday marked the first three-hit game of the season for Rivera. The game was Rivera's 53rd multi-hit game of her career. She now stands tied for ninth in program history with Holly Currie (2004-07).
Sydney Cox did most of the damage for Auburn as she went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and three RBI. Fellow freshman, Makayla Packer slugged a double and swiped her 16th stolen base of the season. She is now tied with Kristina McCain (2005) for seventh in Auburn single-season history.
Turning in another fantastic relief performance, KK Dismukes carried the load in the circle, tossing six innings. Dismukes worked around seven hits and three walks to keep UCF scoreless through the final five innings of the game. Dismukes was tagged with one earned run and struck out a pair. Shelby Lowe (13-10) suffered the loss.
"We try to learn from every win and learn from every loss," Dean said. "There were a lot of things we could have done, but when you get to this stage, it is all about execution. When we executed, we looked great. When we didn't, we weren't able to put runs on the board because we couldn't move runners."
Rivera kick started Auburn's offense with a triple to lead off the bottom of the first. Cox drove Rivera in with a bouncing single down the right field line. Auburn's lead was short lived as the Knights jumped on Lowe early in the game and plated five runs off six hits in the top of the second.
Lindsey Garcia sparked a response in the home half of the second with a leadoff walk. With two outs, Rivera moved Garcia to third with an infield single to deep short. A UCF error at third base brought Garcia home. Cox cut the lead to 5-4 with a two-run double to left center.
Auburn had the tying run in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings but couldn't find a base hit. The Tigers did set the table in the seventh with the top of the order at the plate to give themselves a chance late.
Rivera led off the seventh with a single up the middle. Tyler King moved her into scoring position after dropping a bunt down for a base hit. Cox executed a textbook sacrifice bunt to move the winning run in scoring position. Makenna Dowell loaded the bases for the Tigers with a walk, but UCF turned a game-ending double play to hang on to the 5-4 win.
Auburn will face the loser of Kennesaw State versus Florida State in an elimination game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT. Television designations for Saturday's games will be revealed later this evening.