Auburn knocks down UF in SEC softball

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[Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 19 Auburn evened the series with No. 7 Florida after it took a 2-1 extra-inning thriller Saturday.

The Gators (38-13, 10-10 SEC) picked up another solid outing from freshman right-hander Elizabeth Hightower in the circle. The Monticello native hurled 5.2 innings worth of no-hit softball against the Tigers (35-14, 10-10 SEC). She gave up two hits and struck out seven before being lifted in the seventh by ace Kelly Barnhill (26-9).

UF broke up Chardonnay Harris’ (9-3) no-hit effort with a trio of hits in the top of the sixth for a 1-0 lead. The two-out rally started with Amanda Lorenz’s single to right field, which was followed by a single to left field from Kendyl Lindaman. Jaimie Hoover broke the scoreless tie when she drove in Lorenz with a single to right field.

Auburn’s first hit was a solo home run by catcher Kendall Veach that ended Hightower’s no-hit effort and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth.

The Gators made a push in the top of the 10th inning to retake the lead with a single from Cheyenne Lindsey, a four-pitch walk to Lorenz and an intentional walk issued to Lindaman, but the Tigers escaped the inning to preserve the tie.

Barnhill matched zeros with Harris for the next three innings until the 10th when Alyssa Rivera led off the inning with a single to left field. Rivera was thrown out trying to advance to third on a single by Tannon Snow, who took second on the throw. Makenna Dowell entered as a pinch-runner and advanced to third on a passed ball as Barnhill intentionally walked Veach.

Casey McCrackin lifted the first pitch of her at bat to deep centerfield, which allowed Dowell to score from third to end the Tigers’ four-game losing streak.

Harris turned in the best performance of her young career as the sophomore left-handed pitcher struck out a career-high 17 batters.

The Gators, who won 7-0 Friday, look to take the series from the Tigers at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday on ESPN.