Auburn Softball Preview: No. 19 Tigers Visit Second-Ranked Tennessee

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM Auburn junior Sara Ghezzi hit her team-leading fifth home run of the season Sunday against Kentucky
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
Auburn junior Sara Ghezzi hit her team-leading fifth home run of the season Sunday against Kentucky
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

March 16, 2006

19/18 AUBURN (20-4, 3-0) at 2/2 TENNESSEE (23-0, 0-0)
March 18-19 • Knoxville, Tenn. • Tyson Park

On The Slate
3/18 at Tennessee (DH) 1 p.m.
3/19 at Tennessee 1 p.m.
All Times Eastern

Radio: WZMG-AM (910) and www.auburntigers.com
Broadcaster: Nathan Ealy
Live Stats: www.auburntigers.com

Complete Auburn Notes
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Auburn Begins Big Stretch Of SEC Play ... The 19th-ranked Tigers head into a vital stretch of conference play when visiting No. 2 Tennessee in Knoxville for a three-game set, which begins with a doubleheader Saturday.

Auburn, at 20-4 this season, will play nine-straight SEC contests, with Georgia and Florida looming on the schedule after the Tigers finish with the Lady Vols.

Auburn will face off against the nation's second-ranked team for just the seventh, eighth and ninth games in its history. The Tigers enter the series 1-5 in the situation, taking one of two games from Florida State in 2004.

The Lady Vols (23-0) will represent the fourth ranked team Auburn will face this season. The Tigers defeated then-No. 24 Missouri, but lost to No. 7 Michigan and No. 16 Arizona State.

Each game will carry live audio and live stats, which will be accessible by visiting www.auburntigers.com. Radio coverage will be on WZMG-AM (910).

Tigers Power Their Way Past Troy ... In Auburn's last non-conference home game of the season, Kristina McCain and Sara Ghezzi both hit home runs as the Tigers held off Troy, 4-3, at Jane B. Moore Field on Tuesday.

McCain's three-run shot came in the Tigers' half of the second, while Ghezzi's was a leadoff solo home run in the third. Her team-leading fifth home run of the season proved to be vital as Troy's Katie Taber pulled the Trojans to within one in the sixth with a three-run home run over the left field fence.

Beth DiPietro picked up the win, improving to 9-1 on the season. The junior is also 6-0 at Jane B. Moore Field. Junior Holly Currie picked up her third save of the season, striking out the side in the seventh.

Storylines ...
• Auburn begins a stretch of nine straight SEC games. After Tennessee, Auburn plays Georgia at home and Florida in Gainesville.
• The Tigers will look to go 6-0 to start SEC play for the first time in team history. Auburn has opened the past two seasons at 5-1.
• Auburn holds the all-time series lead against Tennessee, 13-12, and has gone 5-5 in Knoxville. The Tigers are 3-3 in their last six at Tyson Park.

Against Tennessee ... Auburn and Tennessee have played one of the most consistent series in Southeastern Conference play over the past 10 seasons. Auburn holds the all-time advantage, 13-12, after winning the season series, 2-1, last season.

Auburn is the only team in the series to win four straight, doing so from 2000-2001. Otherwise, neither the Tigers nor the Lady Vols have been able to win two straight. Auburn is currently on a two-game win streak over Tennessee after taking the final two last season.

Playing No. 2 ... Auburn has played just six games in its history against teams ranked second in the nation. The series will mark the Tigers' first since hosting Florida State in 2004, where the teams split a doubleheader at Jane B. Moore Field. Auburn won its game in eight innings on the strength of Kristen Keyes' performance from the circle. She struck out 10 while allowing just three hits.

A Flashback ... A day after seeing Monica Abbott strike out 16 against them, the Tigers exploded for a then team-record tying four home runs in a 6-1 win last season. Ashley Griffin, Holly Currie, Anne Norton and Sara Ghezzi each went deep in the victory, which was Auburn's 38th of the 2005 season.

Evenly Spread Out ... Last season, Auburn saw eight players reach double figures in RBI, while Amy Shaw was one away from making it nine. This season, the Tigers are using the same formula for wins, with five (Holly Currie, Sara Ghezzi, Kristina McCain, Ashley Griffin and Tatiana Fernandez) players currently in double figures. Three others -- Starr Dorsey, Myesha Finney and Heather Garrison -- each have six RBI or more.

Against The Southpaw ... Since 2001, the Tigers are 17-14 against left-handed starters, which will become key when Tennessee's Monica Abbott starts in the circle. The 6-foot-3 lefty is dominating, leading the SEC with 189 strikeouts.

Abbott has thrown against the Tigers four times the past two seasons, racking up three victories. She has limited the Tigers to 10 total hits in the four starts while Auburn has scored six runs. Abbott has 51 strikeouts in 24 career innings against Auburn.

Round Tripping ... For the second straight season, Auburn has become one of the most prolific home run hitting teams in the conference. The Tigers are tied for the conference lead with Georgia and Florida as each team has hit 22 home runs.

Auburn has a conference leading 90 home runs the past two seasons.