Catelyn Riley was the difference maker in the circle as Ole Miss softball evened the series with No. 19 Auburn, topping the Tigers, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at Jane B. Moore Field.
The Rebels (21-15, 2-6 SEC) strung together hits, leading to two big innings on offense against the Tigers (27-10, 5-3 SEC). Savana Sikes tallied multiple hits for the seventh time this season, going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Paige Smith homered for the second time this weekend, blasting a two-run shot in the victory.
Ole Miss’ defense held strong, stranding seven runners on base and turning one double play. Riley picked up her third win of the season, tossing a complete game. She only allowed six hits and one unearned run while striking out four.
Riley ran into trouble out of the gate as Auburn loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning with one out, but the Rebels’ defense held strong getting out of the jam with a pair of ground ball outs to keep the game scoreless. From there, the Dandridge, Tennessee, native settled in, retiring the side in back-to-back innings and stranding a runner in the fourth.
Sikes and Smith got the offense going in the second. The fifth-year senior, Sikes, singled to lead off the inning, and Smith launched a two-run shot to left-center to give Ole Miss an early 2-0 lead.
After falling quiet for a couple of innings, the Rebels made some noise at the plate in the fifth. Keila Kamoku singled to lead off the inning, and Riley came in to hit at the bottom of the order. She patiently drew a walk to turn the lineup over to Tate Whitley. She singled through the left side, but the Tigers still managed to catch a runner on the basepaths.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Taylor Malvin scored on a wild pitch to add to the lead. In a hitter’s count, Jalia Lassiter ripped a double off the wall to score Whitley and make it a 4-0 game.
Auburn got one back in the bottom of the fifth after the first two batters in the inning reached. Riley locked in to quickly get three outs and trade the Tigers an unearned run in the process.
Still going strong in the circle, Riley went back out to pitch in the sixth, working around a leadoff single. She retired the side to close out the game, capping it off with a strikeout to even the series.
The victory sets up a rubber match between the Rebels and Tigers Sunday, April 2, at 1 p.m. CT.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics