AU Softball 2-14

Auburn infielder Madison Koekpe fires to first during the team's home opener against Kennesaw State on Friday night at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn. (Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics)

Auburn’s offense struggled, undefeated Kennesaw State rolled up runs with a late rally, and the Auburn softball team dropped its home opener 4-1 on Thursday night at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn.

Kennesaw State used a three-run rally in the fifth inning to break open an early tie and take the win. Auburn got the tying run up to bat in its last breaths in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t overcome its issues hitting.

Auburn fell to 3-3 on the season. Kennesaw State moved to 5-0.

“We have to get better, period,” Auburn head coach Mickey Dean said after the loss.

Auburn continues its busy weekend today with play in the Plainsman Invitational. Auburn is scheduled to play UNC-Wilmington at 2:30 p.m. then play Alabama State at 5 p.m.

Friday night, Kennesaw State pushed an early run across in the top of the first before Auburn’s Justus Perry tied it with an RBI single in the bottom of the first scoring Jadia Jones.

But Auburn couldn’t match that production in later innings. Auburn finished with just four hits compared to Kennesaw State’s eight.

“It’s a game that you have to go out and play,” Dean said. “Just because you have a name across your jersey, that doesn’t give you the right to anything.

“This game is played by people and individuals and we have to go out and perform and we have to coach well — and we didn’t do much of anything well tonight.”

Kennesaw State got seven hits on Auburn’s starter in the circle Ashlee Swindle. Lexie Handley came on in the fifth after the visitors went up 2-1, but with runners already on, the Owls were able to do their damage.

In the seventh, Alyssa Rivera hit a two-out single to left and then Maia Engelkes got on base by a hit by pitch, but Kennesaw State then forced a groundout to get out with the win.

Dean said he saw similar problems with his offense Friday as he did last weekend during the team’s 3-2 start at a tournament in Clearwater, Fla. There, he said when runners got on base the offense opened up. At other times, hitting stayed stagnant.

He saw more of the same against Kennesaw State.

“We can’t steal first base,” Dean said. “We’ve got runners on in the second inning and we were able to score. We got runners on in the seventh inning, and we had, at least, a chance. But with nobody on base it’s pretty difficult to do anything.”

Rivera pinched hit for Auburn on Friday as Dean said the coaches were working to get different looks out on the field for the team. He said that will continue this weekend as the Tigers continue to experiment.

Auburn will play two more games Saturday before capping the weekend on Sunday.

On Saturday, Auburn plays Alabama State at 2:30 p.m. then plays UNC-Wilmington at 5 p.m. The Tigers conclude the tournament with an 11 a.m. game Sunday with UNC-Wilmington.

Alabama State and UNC-Wilmington play each other at noon both on Friday and on Saturday.

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