Auburn softball falls to UCF in Tallahassee Regional opener

Grayson Belanger/Auburn Tigers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Auburn softball (27-20-1) held on to a four-run lead after four innings but couldn't outlast UCF (31-23) as the Knights took the opening game of the Tallahassee Regional 11-6 Friday at JoAnne Graf Field.
"Both teams battled," said head coach Mickey Dean. "We didn't do what we wanted to do throughout the whole entire seven innings. We had opportunities to add some runs. Our defense played well. Our pitchers struggled to put their hitters away. We gave up eight two-strike hits. That's a lot. Putting it in play is one thing, but giving up those doubles, home runs with two strikes is hard. We know our pitchers are better than that."
UCF took a 2-0 lead in the opening frame with the help of three hits, but Auburn stormed back to score six unanswered runs in the second and third innings to take a 6-2 lead.
The Tigers tied the game in the second inning as a pair of doubles from Axe Milanowski and Rose Roach to set the table for Nelia Peralta to drive in the tying with a single up the middle. Auburn loaded the bases in the third before plating four runs without a hit as a pair of bases-loaded walks, a fielder's choice aided by an error at home plate and a sacrifice fly tacked on to Auburn's lead.
UCF answered in the fifth inning using a string of hits to cut the lead to two runs, forcing Auburn to bring Shelby Lowe into the game in relief. The left hander forced a pair of outs to keep the Tigers in front.
Three home runs in the sixth and seventh frames allowed the Knights to complete the comeback.
Auburn tallied eight hits in the contest, five of which came from the bottom of the order. Roach turned in a multi-RBI performance as she went 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI. KK McCrary picked up a pair of hits in the leadoff spot and drove in a run.
Maddie Penta earned the start in the circle, striking out six in her 4.1 innings of work. Lowe and Annabelle Widra both saw relief innings.
The Tigers face either Florida State or Chattanooga in an elimination contest on Saturday. First pitch is set for 2:30 p.m. CT. The contest will be available on ESPN+. Any additional television coverage will be announced.