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Maddie Penta named SEC Pitcher of the Year

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Auburn's Maddie Penta named SEC Pitcher of the Year

Updated: May. 12, 2023, 9:39 a.m.|Published: May. 12, 2023, 9:38 a.m.
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  1. Auburn Tigers Sports

Auburn’s Maddie Penta named SEC Pitcher of the Year, 2 more Tigers earn All-SEC honors


Maddie Penta (9) during the game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Sunday, Apr 23, 2023. Jamie Holt/Auburn TigersJamie Holt/Auburn Tigers

Maddie Penta capped one of the best seasons in program history with one of the SEC’s highest honors.

The Auburn softball star was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year on Friday when the league announced its end-of-season awards. Penta was also tabbed an All-SEC first-team selection and made the SEC All-Defensive team after a remarkable run through the regular season saw her guide Auburn to a top-three finish in the conference -- the program’s best finish since 2017 -- after the Tigers were picked to finish ninth in the SEC.

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Penta is the first player in Auburn history to win SEC Pitcher of the Year, and she’s the first Tiger to make the All-SEC first team in back-to-back seasons since Kasey Cooper. Penta posted a 0.96 ERA during the regular season while becoming the first Auburn pitcher to post consecutive seasons with 20-plus wins and 250-plus strikeouts since Anna Thompson hit those marks during the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

In SEC play, Penta went 12-2 (with one save) with a 1.02 ERA across 16 appearances, including 15 starts. Penta went the distance in 13 of those outings, six of which were shutouts. Her ERA was the best by an Auburn pitcher in SEC play in a single season in program history, and it led all pitchers in the conference who tossed at least 65 innings this season. Penta’s ERA was accomplished while throwing 110 1/3 innings during SEC action, as she struck out 138 SEC hitters, walked just 29 and limited opposing batters to a .143 average.

Penta is the fourth Auburn pitcher to record at least 12 wins in an SEC season. Her six shutouts tied Kristen Keyes (2004) for most in program history. Among her six shutouts were a pair of one-hitters, as well as a no-hitter against South Carolina that marked the first by an Auburn pitcher in SEC play in more than 17 years.

Her 138 strikeouts in SEC play were second among league pitchers this season, as well as the second-most by an Auburn pitcher in an SEC season (behind Keyes), and she tied Auburn’s SEC single-game record with 17 strikeouts against Missouri.

Along with her stellar year in the pitching circle, Penta posted a perfect fielding percentage in SEC play, with two putouts and 19 assists, which helped her earn SEC All-Defensive honors. She’s the first Auburn player to make the All-Defensive team since Casey McCrackin in 2019.

While Penta was the big winner for Auburn in terms of the league’s end-of-year awards, she wasn’t the only Tiger honored Friday. Denver Bryant and Nelia Peralta both earned All-SEC second-team honors for the first time in their respective careers. Auburn’s three All-SEC selections are the most for the program since 2017.

Bryant led Auburn with a .322 average in league play, with 10 RBI, three home runs, two doubles and a .403 on-base percentage. Peralta was the Tigers’ second-leading hitter, with a .299 average and a team-best .552 slugging percentage and .435 on-base percentage in SEC play. Her five home runs were tied for the team lead in conference action.

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

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