Garcia's two-run homer keys Auburn win over Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. - In an offensive affair that came down to the wire, No. 18 Auburn softball (21-3, 1-0 SEC) completed its come-from-behind victory, knocking off No. 19 Georgia 6-5 in Friday's Southeastern Conference opener at Jack Turner Stadium.
Auburn battled back from a two-run deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Bulldogs (18-6, 0-1) locked the game back up in the fourth inning.
The Tigers used a two-run homer from Lindsey Garcia in the fifth to regain the lead and held on for a wild finish in the seventh.
"Welcome back to SEC play," said head coach Mickey Dean. "This place was loud. Our kids couldn't even hear each other while on the field, so that made it one hell of a play for Makayla (Packer) to throw that runner out at second base to end the game. That was huge. We had a lot of people contribute tonight. Georgia is a great hitting team. Our pitchers battled. That's what you have to do. You have to be willing to battle."
Garcia led the Tigers at the plate with a 2-for-3 night with two runs scored and two RBI. She added a double along with her home run.
Aubrie Lisenby turned in a multi-RBI performance, driving in two with a double. Nelia Peralta and Bri Ellis both added solo home runs for the Tigers.
Makayla Packer turned in a 2-for-3 performance at the plate and made some history on the bases. The junior swiped the 42nd stolen base of her career, moving her into a tie for third in program history with Alyssa Rivera (2017-21) and Ashley Griffin (2003-06).
The Tigers used three arms in the circle to secure the win.
Shelby Lowe earned the start and went 2.1 innings. Lowe scattered six hits and allowed three runs. She struck out one.
Earning the win in relief to improve to 7-0, Annabelle Widra tossed 1.2 innings. She allowed one run off two hits and walk while striking out two.
Maddie Penta secured her second save of the season, tossing the final three innings of the game. Penta gave up four hits and one unearned run while striking out four.
Peralta opened conference play with a bang, leading off the game with a solo home run to give the Tigers the early lead. The homer was her third to lead off a game this season and her fourth overall.
The Tiger lead held until the third inning as a pair of hits aided by an Auburn error manufactured a run to tie the game. The Bulldogs would load the bases forcing Auburn to make a pitching change.
A bases-loaded hit by pitch and single to shallow right plated a pair of runs, but Widra limited the damage with back-to-back strikeouts to leave the bases loaded.
Auburn had an immediate answer as Ellis led off the fourth with her eighth home run of the season. And the 28th of her Auburn career. With two in scoring position, Lisenby put the Tigers back in front 4-3 with a bases-clearing double to left center.
Georgia responded in the home half of the inning with a solo home run from Sara Mosley, but the Tigers punch right back with a two-out rally in the fifth. With Ellis on via walk, Garcia connected for a two-run blast to left field, giving Auburn a 6-4 lead. It came down to the wire in the bottom of the seventh.
A Bulldog single and passed ball put a runner in scoring position for Georgia. Penta battled in a seven-pitch at bat to record a strikeout for the second out of the inning.
Ally Kurland singled to centerfield, driving in a run to cut the lead to 6-5, but as she tried to stretch her single into a double, Packer mowed her down at the bag with a throw to Peralta to end the game.
With rain expected throughout the morning and afternoon in Athens, the series has been adjusted to feature a doubleheader slate on Saturday. First pitch is still set for 11 a.m. CT with Saturday's opener airing on the SEC Network. The series finale will follow approximately one hour after the conclusion of the opening contest.