Jade Rhodes (above) is having a strong senior season for the Tigers.
Lexington, Ky.--Kaylee Carlson pitched a two-hit, run-rule shutout as the No. 3 ranked Auburn softball Tigers defeated 12th-ranked Kentucky 9-0 on Friday evening.
Carlson improved to 9-0 for the season while UK starter Megan Prince’s record dropped to 14-1.
Auburn improved to 7-3 in the SEC and 31-4 overall, The Wildcats are 8-2 in the SEC and 31-6 overall.
“Kaylee was great tonight," Coach Clint Myers said. "She was in total control of her pitches and the zone. “When she’s pitching like that, she doesn’t need to throw a lot of pitches. I was very proud of her efforts."
First baseman Jade Rhodes, the SEC Player of the Week who has been swinging a hot bat, led the offense with two hits, four RBI and she drove in another run on an error.
Rhodes set the tone for the game early with a three-run homer in the first inning that sailed over the center field fence. That scored Tiffany Howard, who led off the contest with a single, and Emily Carosone, who reached base on a walk.
“We keep telling Jade, ‘don’t wake up’,” Myers said. “The way she is seeing the ball and connecting right now, it is very impressive, but the key to the game was timely hitting from up-and-down our lineup. We got a lot of great at bats on there and Kaylee was phenomenal.”
The Tigers took command with five more runs in the third inning. Howard opened the frame with a double and moved to third on a single by Carosone.
Kasey Cooper walked to load the bases and a fielder’s choice groundout by Carlee Wallace for a force at third base scored Howard to make the score 4-0.
A hard-hit ground ball from Rhodes was bobbled by the second baseman, sending home Carosone to make the score 5-0.
Jenna Abbott then greeted relief pitcher Kelsey Nunley with a line drive to center field to make the score 7-0. The Tigers scored one more in the inning when Howard drew an RBI walk.
The Tigers added single run in the fourth inning as Wallace doubled to the right center field wall off a third UK pitcher, Shannon Smith. Pinch-runner Sydney Waldrop scored on a head-first slide following a single to left field by Rhodes to make the score 9-0.
Game two of the series is scheduled for a 2 p.m. CDT start on Saturday.