Offense Rolls In Opening Round Win

Gainesville, Fla.--Auburn used the mercy rule to oust South Carolina in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Anne Norton hit her sixth home run of the season and finished with three runs batted in as No. 18 Auburn defeated South Carolina, 8-0, in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Florida Softball Stadium.

The win is Auburn's first in the opening round of the tournament since defeating Tennessee, 3-0, in 1997 and just the second overall in the program's history.

"It was a total team effort," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "We had an adjustment period for a couple innings, then they really got on them."

The Tiger offense rapped out 10 hits en route to the five inning, mercy-rule victory. Norton highlighted the effort with a two-run home run in the fourth. Sara Dean also had two RBI to help pace Auburn (48-14), which has won 10 of its last 11 games.

The bottom of the order Norton, Lolani Alvarez and Amy Shaw contributed immensely in the victory, combining to go 6-for-8 with three runs scored and four RBI.

"Any time you can get production out of the bottom of the lineup, it's a bonus," Deese said.

Holly Currie took advantage of Auburn's offensive contributions and won her 23rd game of the season after allowing just one hit, coming in the first inning, in five innings. She struck out six.

The Tigers opened the game's scoring in the third inning. Alvarez and Shaw started off the inning with consecutive singles. Next up the South Carolina second baseman made a diving stop to get Kristina McCain at first, but the play allowed Alvarez to come around all the way from second and narrowly beat the throw at the plate.

Shaw, who had gone to third on McCain's groundout after an errant throw, scored on the next at bat. Ashley Griffin hit a sharp ball to short, but Shaw was too fast and slid in underneath the tag at home.

Auburn scored four runs in the fifth to close out the game. Dean singled to left, scoring two, while Norton capped off her day with a single to right field. Alvarez closed out the game with a double to right center.

Aleca Johnson threw 3 1/3 innings for the Gamecocks (28-27-1) and fell to 7-9 on the season. She allowed four runs and four hits while striking out one and walking one.

The Tigers now take on the winner of the Alabama/Mississippi State game played on Thursday later today.

Notes:Auburn improved to 4-0 against South Carolina this season ... The Tigers have outscored the Gamecocks, 35-14, this season ... Sara Dean extended her conference lead in pickoffs to nine in the first inning when she caught Meghan Cornett at second base for the second out of the inning ... Holly Currie has now allowed just one hit in four games this season ... Anne Norton's home run marked the team's 66th of the season to extend the school record

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