Extra Innings Means Extra Heartbreak For Tigers

Auburn played two extra innings before falling in a controversial finish that puts the Tigers in the losers bracket of the double elimination tournament.

Palo Alto, Calif.--The Auburn softball team dropped a 1-0, extra inning heartbreaker to Hofstra in the first round of NCAA regional play on Thursday on the campus of Stanford University.

Auburn senior pitcher Kristen Keyes set a career high mark with 17 strikeouts, and only gave up one run, but that was all Hofstra would need for the win.

In the top of the ninth inning and trailing by a run, Auburn baserunner Ashley Griffin was ruled out at the plate on a controversial call to end the game. The loss sends Auburn into the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament to play at approximately 10 p.m. CDT on Thursday vs. Fresno State.

Hofstra got its run in the top of the ninth inning as Megan Almond, with one out, drew a walk from Keyes. Then, Adrienne Clark, who also took the win in a relief effort on the mound, ripped a triple to score Almond, who also tagged out Griffin at the end of the game.

The Tigers rallied in the ninth inning as Griffin, with one out, picked up Auburn's first hit since the third inning. Then Sara Ghezzi hit a shot to shortstop that Laura Sweeney was not able to make a throw on to first base and that put runners on first and second.

Then, following a Martha Phillips fly out to center, Lolani Alvarez ripped a single to right field that Griffin tried to score on from second. However, right fielder Ashley Lane made a strong throw to Almond at the plate that made it a close play and the home plate umpire called Griffin out despite the appearance that her foot had touched the plate prior to a tag as she went in on a half slide and collided with the Hofstra catcher.

Griffin is called out at the plate to end the game. (Photography: Todd Van Emst)

Auburn had other chances in the game, but could not come up with the plays when the Tigers needed them. In the seventh the Tigers threatened, but could not come away with a run as Martha Phillips grounded out to Osborne with senior Lindsey Chitwood at third, who was pinch-running for Paige Jones, who drew a walk to leadoff the inning.

Auburn threatened again in the eighth as with two outs Kristina McCain drew a walk and then Shannon Anderson was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. However, Sara Dean, who leads the Auburn team in two-out RBI with 16, popped out to center for the final out of the inning.

Hofstra sent Callie Osborne to the mound and the junior from Ontario, Canada pitched eight and 2/3 innings of scoreless softball and only gave up two hits. Adrienne Clark came in with two outs in the eighth and got out Dean and then closed out the game despite giving up three hits to Auburn in the ninth inning.

For Auburn, Keyes was dominating despite taking the loss to fall to 27-11 on the season. The senior allowed only four hits to The Pride.

Clark led Hofstra in offensive production by driving in the game winning run on a triple. Almond was also strong at the plate as she ripped a double earlier in the game and drew the walk that put her on base to score the game-winner in the ninth.

For Auburn, Lolani Alvarez had what appeared to be the game-tying hit in the ninth, but it was not to be. Griffin had a hit to start the rally and Sara Ghezzi came through with two hits. Lauren Walton had one hit for the Tigers.

Auburn will face third seeded Fresno State in an elimination game after the Bulldogs lost their first game against sixth-seeded Southern Illinois 2-0. The winner of that game will move on to play in another elimination game on Friday at 7:30 CDT.

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