AUBURN — In what is likely the first award of many this season, Maddie Penta has been named the SEC Pitcher of the Week after a stellar opening weekend. Penta combined for three shutouts during the five-game opening weekend for the Tigers, and she wrapped up the NFCA Leadoff Classic as the SEC leader in strikeouts with 31. The three shutouts give the junior pitcher 36 career wins for the Tigers, tying her for 10th in program history. 

In a five-game weekend, the Tigers shut out four of five opponents, with Penta combining with Shelby Lowe for three of the four shutouts. Through 15 innings of action, all with Penta as the official starter, the junior pitcher allowed just eight hits, holding opponents to a batting average of .145 at the plate while allowing three walks and one hit by pitch. 

"Surprisingly, everything was working," Penta said following the win. "My rise ball and my drop ball, which is a new addition to my pitching arsenal, usually don't work on the same day, but today, they both worked."

For her efforts, Penta was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic All-Tournament. Penta has not allowed a run to score in 17.1 consecutive innings, dating back to the 2022 season. Penta's 31 strikeouts now gives her over 400 in her career, making her just the fifth pitcher in program history to surpass that mark. 

Behind the play of Penta and the entire pitching staff, the Tigers went 4-1, taking down St. Johns and Fordham on Friday, Indiana on Saturday and Illinois on Sunday. The Tigers lost the only game in which they gave up a run, falling to Pittsburgh on Saturday, 8-7.

"I told the team that I didn't care what the score was and that I didn't care who won or lost," said head coach Mickey Dean. "I just really liked our team today. I liked the way they were around each other and supported each other. We're a good team. We can be a great team. That's in our hands."

The No. 21 Tigers and Penta will be back this weekend for their home opener at Jane B. Moore Field, the Tiger Invitational. Austin Peay, Villanova and Dayton are all coming to the Plains, with Auburn kicking off the tournament with a Friday doubleheader against Austin Peay and Villanova on Friday. The matchup with Peay will begin at 3 p.m. CST.

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.