Ole Miss softball fell to No. 3 Auburn 8-7 in heartbreaking fashion Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the 2023 SEC Softball Tournament at Bogle Park.
The Rebels (30-26, 8-16 SEC) fell behind early after Auburn plated two runs in the first. Ole Miss nearly escaped the inning after Tate Whitely threw out a runner at the plate for the second out of the inning, but an RBI single past a diving Mikayla Allee put the Tigers up 2-0.
The Ole Miss offense had an opportunity to answer in the top of the second, loading the bases with a two-out rally. Aynslie Furbush doubled, and the next two batters walked to set the table for pinch hitter Mya Stevenson, but Auburn evaded the threat with an inning-ending strikeout.
Unable to capitalize the last time at the plate, Ole Miss batted around in the third, hanging a six spot on the Tigers’ ace Maddie Penta. Paige Smith and Mikayla Allee both reached on free passes and tied the game at two on a one-out double in the gap by Lexie Brady. Keila Kamoku continued the rally with a base hit through the left side, took second base on a passed ball and scored along with Brady on a single from Furbush to make it a 4-2 game.
Auburn made the call to the bullpen, still needing two outs to get out of the inning. The Tigers managed to get one right away but then had the top of the lineup to deal with. Hitting in the leadoff spot for the third straight game, Lassiter continued her emergence at the SEC Tournament. The freshman crushed a 2-2 pitch and blasted it into the parking lot in left to cap off the six-run third.
Heading into the bottom half of the inning, the Rebels saw their four-run lead dwindle as three defensive miscues allowed Auburn to climb its way back into the contest. Ole Miss managed to get one back in the fourth as Brady scored on a Tiger error to bring the score to 7-5.
Brooke Vestal took over in the fourth inning and worked a clean frame, but Auburn tied things up with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth. The Tigers proceeded to load the bases and score what would become the game-winning run on an RBI single. Grace Sparks and the defense helped Ole Miss minimize the damage as Lassiter caught a fly ball in center and threw out the runner at third for an inning-ending double play.
Trailing by one going into the top of the seventh, the Rebels continued to fight. Nyomi Jones, Lassiter doubled off the wall in center and Whitley walked to load the bases. With two outs, Savana Sikes stepped to the plate and was hit by the first pitch, bringing in the tying run; however, the umpires went to replay review and reversed the call, sending Sikes back to the plate with a 1-0 count. She battled in the box, but in the end, Auburn escaped the threat and held on for the 8-7 victory.
The Rebels now await their postseason fate, as the NCAA field of 64 is revealed Sunday at 6 p.m. CT.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports