AUBURN, Ala. - Shutdown innings from Auburn's sophomore pitching duo combined with the long ball and the Tigers' best defensive performance in Southeastern Conference play carried No. 17 Auburn softball (29-4, 7-3 SEC) to a 3-1 victory in the series opener against No. 7 Florida (28-6, 5-5) Friday at Jane B. Moore Field.
"I just aged 10 years," said head coach Mickey Dean. "That was two great pitchers going at it right there, and even three when we brought Shelby (Lowe) into the game. We got two pitches that we were able to send out of the park, and that was the difference in the game. I love these kids. They work hard, and I appreciate all the work they put in. It's one game, but they worked hard this week and listened to the talks we'd had. It paid off."
The victory was Auburn's seventh in league play this season, matching its 2021 total. The victory was Auburn's first over the Gators since 2019.
Maddie Penta continued her dominance in the circle as she secured her 18th victory. Behind a string of retiring seven straight, Penta kept the Gators off the board until the sixth inning when Florida brought home a run on a Cheyenne Lindsey sacrifice fly.
Penta scattered five total hits and a pair of walks in her 6.1 innings of work. The right-hander fanned six.
Shelby Lowe shut the door in the top of the seventh. Entering the game with bases loaded with one out, Lowe recorded back-to-back strikeouts to pick up her fifth save.
Senior Aspyn Godwin broke open the scoreless contest in the fourth with a two-run home run to left center driving in freshman Aubrie Lisenby, who reached on a walk. Freshman Nelia Peralta went yard for the second consecutive game with a solo shot in the fifth. The home run was Peralta's eighth of the season.
Junior Carlee McCondichie was Auburn's lone multi-hitter in the series opener as she knocked a pair of singles from the nine-hole in the lineup.
Auburn's defense was a standout in Friday's opener as the Tigers went error free in league play for just the second time. Returning to shortstop, Peralta was strong in the field with quick reflexes while junior Lindsey Garcia roamed the outfield with hit-robbing play.
Auburn goes for the series win on Saturday. First pitch on the SEC Network is set for 2 p.m. CT.