FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - No. 3 seed Auburn took down No. 11 seed Ole Miss, 8-7, in a nail-biting back-and-forth quarterfinal battle, advancing to the SEC Tournament semifinals.
After Icess Tresvik's two-run homer and Rose Roach's RBI single pushed the Tigers ahead in the fifth frame, Maddie Penta worked her way out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the top of the seventh, striking out the final batter.
"I've just been trying to keep it simple," Tresvik said about her first at bat. "Sometimes I find myself over-swinging so just staying relaxed in the box and just keeping my head on the ball."
A flurry of timely hits by each team, along with costly errors from both sides, led to an unpredictable rollercoaster of a matchup that kept fans on the edge of their seats.
An action-packed third inning seemed to be the climax of the game, but an intense bottom of the fifth that set Auburn ahead and a nerve-wracking top of the seventh to secure the win kept things interesting.
"We can't let the emotions can't get too big," Nelia Peralta said about regrouping after errors. "This is a big moment for all of us."
The Tigers' numerous multi-run innings made the difference in comparison to the Rebels' six-run third-inning explosion.
Auburn notched eight hits and five walks, only striking out twice, consistently putting the ball in play to come up big in crucial moments, which included scoring the decisive run in the fifth inning.
Penta earned the save, throwing 4.1 innings with four strikeouts, four walks, and seven hits allowed. Annabelle Widra took the win after tossing 2.2 innings with two strikeouts and four hits allowed including a home run.
"The person that came out here today is not the person that I am and just remembering that, you know, I'm Maddie Penta," she said her shift in mindset after being re-entered.
"I mean, we rely on Penta so much," Peralta shared. "We're happy to have her out there and we're going to do what we can so that we can get the win."
How It Happened
B1 | Peralta started up the offensive action with a single to center field and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Bri Ellis walked. Lindsey Garcia's two-out two-RBI single up the middle set things in motion before the Tigers could close out the first frame. Ole Miss 0, Auburn 2
T3 | The Rebels had runners on first and second with one out after a hit by pitch and a walk started the inning. Lexie Brady smacked a line drive into right center field, landing at second and bringing in both baserunners to even the score. Keila Kamoku kept the momentum going with a whistling single through the left side, setting up runners on the corners before she advanced to second on a passed ball. With both runners in scoring position and Ole Miss DP Aynslie Furbush at the plate, the rally continued. Her two-RBI single to center field forced Auburn to switch things up on the mound. Widra tossed a strikeout before Jalia Lassiter demolished a pitch over the left field fence to increase the damage. Tate Whitley found her way to first with a perfectly placed bunt, but Paige Smith fouled out to right field, ending the parade. Ole Miss 6, Auburn 2
B3 | Peralta crushed a ball into the parking lot, just past the left-field foul pole, before settling for a line drive single into center field with one out already on the books. An error by Rebels shortstop Mikayla Allee followed up by a walk loaded the bases before Garcia popped out to right field, but the runners would advance on a throwing error including one across the plate. A grounder to second nearly ended the inning; however, Kamoku threw the ball away, allowing two more runs to score before the Rebels finally closed the door. Ole Miss 6, Auburn 5
T4 | Makayla Packer started off the fourth frame on a high note for Auburn's defense with a gorgeous full-extension catch on the run to right center. With two outs, Brady entered the batter's box with a rally on her mind, dropping in a single that slipped past leftfielder Garcia and allowed her to advance to second. Kamoku kept the pressure on Auburn's defense as Peralta threw the ball away and Brady scored, but Penta came through against Furbush with a strikeout to end the chaos. Ole Miss 7, Auburn 5
B5 | Ellis' leadoff walk made a significant dent as Tresvik tied things up with a two-run blast over the fence in left center field. Auburn then went to work, finding various ways to get runners on base, eventually pushing the go-ahead run across the plate with Roach's RBI single through the right side. However, Rebels' centerfielder Lassiter kept the Tigers from tacking on insurance runs, catching Peralta's fly ball and doubling up Packer on her way to third before Aspyn Godwin could make it home. Ole Miss 7, Auburn 8
T7 | The Rebels refused to go down quietly as Jones singled and advanced to third on Lassiter's double to center field. Penta felt the pressure, walking Whitley with four straight balls to load the bases, but came back with a strikeout against Smith. With two outs and the win on the line, a hit by pitch call was overturned after review and Penta worked Savanna Sikes to a full count before taking her down swinging to solidify the Tigers trip to the semifinals. Ole Miss 7, Auburn 8
On her focus in the bullpen to re-warmup... "It was using my legs more. I definitely was throwing a lot of arm earlier in the game and it's because of that, right, you know we're getting fatigued here towards the end of the season."
On the seventh-inning hit by pitch call reversal... "Honestly, I knew that's a typical call to make but you know just hoping and praying really. But I knew that they were very close to over the plate, and I was hoping that they would you know do that justice. But, like I said, it's a hard thing to call for umpires, but, thankfully, justice was served!"
On helping out Penta... "They had a big lead in the third or fourth inning but there's still more ball to play so we just try to keep getting one run in at a time and just helping out our pitchers."
On playing in the SEC... "Being in the SEC so far has been a great experience, you know, I always dreamed of being here. I used to watch the SEC Tournament growing up as a kid."
Auburn (40-16, 15-9 SEC) will face the winner of Game 7 between No. 2 seed Georgia and No. 10 seed South Carolina in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Friday, May 12 at 3 p.m. CT as televised on ESPN2.
Ole Miss (30-26, 8-16 SEC) is eliminated from the tournament and awaits the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday night. The bracket for the NCAA Tournament will be released at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.