AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) For Mickey Dean and the Auburn Tigers, the early goings of SEC conference play have not gone according to plan. After being swept by in-state rival Alabama in the first SEC series of the year, Auburn went on a 12-day hiatus from conference competition, picking up wins over Kennesaw State and No. 13 Florida State; however, the morale boost was seemingly not enough as the orange and blue were handed a 2-1 loss on Friday night, this time at the hands of Mizzou.
Freshman Shelby Lowe returned to the circle for the Tigers, tossing a season-high 7.1 innings and gave up just one run via a fourth-inning solo blast from Mizzou. Lowe is the first Tiger to reach the seven-inning mark in the 2021 season.
Auburn’s achilles heel in Friday night’s contest was offense. Despite Graduate Senior Justus Perry’s solo bomb in the fourth frame, the Tigers struggled to get on base all evening. Perry’s 2-for-4 night at the dish was enough to lead her squad in the category as Auburn was able to post just six hits in a contest which spanned nine innings.
The series opening showdown remained a defensive battle throughout its duration and the Tigers had seemingly no answer to the pitching of the black and gold, squardering what Dean believed to be an opportunity to take the lead with a runner on second in the seventh inning.
“We had opportunities," said Dean. "When we did get walk and when we did get hits, we'd have two batters strike out back to back. We never got a bunt down to move a runner. The difference in that ballgame.”
With one away and a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth frame, the orange and blue handed the ball to redshirt senior Lexie Handley. The lefty forced the opposing Tigers into an infield ground ball; however, the throw to first would sail wide of first baseman Perry, allowing Mizzou to score and win off of an error.
Auburn’s head coach had words of defensive praise for both squads.
“Each team had great pitching,” Dean said. “Each team had great defense. The difference is that they moved one runner, she scored. We didn't move any."
Dean’s squad will attempt to regroup and bounce back in game two of the series on Saturday. The game will take place at Mizzou Stadium at 11:00 a.m. CT and will be broadcast live on SEC Network.