Freshman Makayla Martin (above) and the rest of Auburn's pitching staff struggled vs. the Vols.
Knoxville, Tenn.--With a chance to move to the top of the SEC softball standings on Sunday, the Tigers went the other direction, suffering back-to-back, run-rule losses to Tennessee.
The Vols took game one on Sunday, 10-2, in a contest that was resumed from Saturday night when it was stopped due to rain.
The home team was just as dominant in game two, taking a 12-1 victory.
The Tigers came into the next-to-last weekend of the regular season tied with Florida for first place in the SEC at 15-3 and had a chance to move ahead of the Gators, who suffered a Sunday loss at Texas A&M.
Tennessee, which improved to 14-6 in the SEC and 38-12 overall, will go for the sweep on Monday in the 6 p.m. CDT series finale that will be televised on the SEC Network. Auburn dropped to 45-7.
The 12th-ranked Volunteers took charge in game two with a seven-run second inning to break a tie. Auburn had taken an early lead on a home run by Kasey Cooper while the Vols answered with a single run in the bottom of the first inning.
Freshman pitcher Makayla Martin eight runs in three innings. She allowed seven hits and walked five batters.
The Tigers didn’t help her or relief pitcher Lexi Davis with their fielding, committing a season-high four errors.
Davis pitched one inning of relief, allowing four runs, two which were earned. The senior allowed three hits and walked three, a problem the Tigers had throughout the two games in which they issued 20 bases on balls.
Auburn’s 13-game SEC winning streak was snapped in game one as the third-ranked Tigers suffered a 10-2 defeat, which was their first run-rule setback of the season.
A tight strike zone frustrated three Auburn pitchers, who combined to walk a dozen batters.
Starter Kaylee Carlson, who walked six Vols, suffered her first loss of the season to drop to 13-1. Carlson only managed to get two outs while giving up three hits and eight runs, all which were earned.
Rachael Walters, who pitched three innings of relief, allowed one run as did Marcy Harper, who threw 1 1/3 innings for the Tigers.
Auburn’s hitters struggled, too, stranding 11 runners on base, as two Tennessee pitchers combined for six walks and three hits.
The game, which was suspended from Saturday night due to heavy rain, resumed with Tennessee batting in the first inning down 1-0. The Vols scored three runs in their first at-bat to take the lead with two runners crossing home plate on bases loaded walks by Carlson.
Leading 4-2 going into the bottom of the third inning, the Vols took control with five more runs to take command of a game in which the Tigers finished with just three hits, two on bunts by Victoria Draper and the other a single by Carlee Wallace.
Draper was a bright spot for the Tigers on Sunday, contributing four of her team’s nine hits.
The Tigers allowed a season-high run total in game one to the Vols, who topped it with 12 runs on 10 hits in the nightcap.
Auburn, which won four of five games it played vs. Tennessee last season, will try to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season on Monday night.
“We have got to play better, it’s pretty simple,” Auburn coach Clint Myers said after the game. “We didn’t swing like we’re capable and we sure didn’t pitch or play defense like we’re accustomed to. It’s a couple bumps in the road and a major character test for us. We have to come out and play Auburn Softball tomorrow. If we do that, we’ll be fine.“