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Auburn softball splits season-opening twin bill with Virginia Tech, Belmont

The 2024 campaign has officially kicked off for the No. 19 Auburn Tigers, and they close out opening day with a 1-1 record.

Auburn met Virginia Tech and Belmont on Friday as part of the opening day of the Tiger Invitational at Jane B. Moore Field. The first game of the day saw Auburn force extra innings with the Hokies before ultimately suffering defeat, 8-1. The Tigers were able to bounce back in game two by earning a five-run win over Belmont to close the day, 6-1.

Head coach Mickey Dean shared what he hopes to see his team improve upon before Saturday’s action.

“We weren’t consistent with extra-base hits throughout the day,” Dean said. “We’re hitting balls to the fence but getting singles. We need to be more aggressive on the base paths. We weren’t productive with runners on base. We struck out a lot with runners on base. We can’t win ball games like that.”

Auburn (1-1) struck first in its opening game with Virginia Tech (2-0). Maryland transfer Amelia Lech introduced herself to the Auburn faithful by drilling a solo home run over the center field fence to put the Tigers up, 1-0 in the 4th inning. Virginia Tech’s Emily LeGette answered by hitting a solo shot of her own to tie the game in the ensuing inning.

The game remained tied at 1-1 until the top of the 8th inning when Virginia Tech rattled off seven runs to end the game with an 8-1 win. The Hokies scored runs on an Auburn error, a sacrifice fly, and a single, with the final blow being a grand slam off the bat of Rachel Castine.

The second-half of the twinbill began the same as the first, with a solo home run. This time, it was KK McCrary that did the damage. Her 1st inning home run put Auburn ahead of Belmont (1-1), 1-0, and the Tigers would ride that momentum to a 6-1 victory over the Bruins. McCrary and Skylar Elkins each had two RBI in the contest.

maddie penta struck out eight batters in 7.0 innings of work in the Tigers loss to Virginia Tech. She allowed six hits, a walk, and an earned run in her season debut. Annabelle Widra earned the win over Belmont by striking out five batters over 2.0 innings.  Shelby Lowe combined to strike out three batters in 3.0 innings between both games.

Offensively, Icess Tresvik was the lone batter to record multiple hits in either game, as she ended the day going 4-or-8 at the plate with three singles and a double.

Auburn looks to avenge Friday’s loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday by facing the Hokies in a rematch at 1 p.m. CT. The Tigers will also meet Illinois at 4 p.m. CT for the first time this weekend. The Fighting Illini dropped both of their games on Friday to Virginia Tech and Belmont respectively.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire