From Auburn Media Relations:
Columbia, S.C. - Auburn softball seniors delivered a win Friday night as Amber Harrison provided the game's only offense and pitcher Jenee Loree and Lauren Schmalz combined on a three-hit shutout as the Tigers defeated South Carolina 1-0.
Auburn improved to 29-19 overall and 8-15 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina dropped to 23-27 overall and 3-20 in the SEC. The Tigers and Gamecocks play game two of the series Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.
"This was a really good win and our seniors really stepped up to get it for us," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. "Amber had the only big hit of the game with the home run and Jenee and Lauren did a great job against their hitters. South Carolina had a couple of chances to score but our pitchers and our defense got the job done."
Jenee Loree started and earned the win to improve to 10-7. Loree went five and two-thirds, allowing just three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. Lauren Schmalz earned her first save of the season, throwing one and one-third perfect innings, striking out two.
Harrison provided the game's only run with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth inning. It was Harrison's first home run of the season, 14th of her career, and it sailed over the fence in left-center.
After retiring the first nine batters she faced, Loree gave up a leadoff walk to Samie Garcia in the bottom of the fourth. After a sac bunt moved Garcia to second, Loree left her stranded as she forced a fly out and a ground out to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Loree gave up her first hit of the game as Evan Childs blooped a single into left field just beyond the reach of a diving Lauren Guzman. Loree would bear down and register a pair of strikeouts, however, to leave Childs stuck at first base.
In the bottom of the sixth Garcia gave the Gamecocks life with a one-out double to the gap in left-center. After falling behind 1-0, Loree was able to fan Lauren Lackey on a swinging third strike for the second out of the inning. With Kaitlin Westfall at the plate, Loree quickly worked ahead 0-2. But on a 1-2 pitch, Westfall reached on an infield single that dribbled slowly to the hole at short. Garcia took third on the play.
That chased Loree from the game and brought Schmalz in to pitch. Facing Dana Hawthorn, Schmalz ended the inning on just two pitches with a fly out to centerfield that preserved the one-run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Schmalz fanned Chelsea Hawkins on a swinging third strike for the first out of the inning. Schmalz fell behind 2-1 and 3-2, but was able to get her second strikeout when Childs swung and missed for the second out of the inning. With two outs, Schmalz forced Kristen Struett to foul out to Brooke Lathan on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.