No. 23 Tigers Head To Mississippi State
No. 23 Auburn at Mississippi State
April 2, 3 * Starkville, Miss. * Mississippi State Softball Field
Tigers, Bulldogs Set For Three-Game Series In Starkville
The 23rd-ranked Auburn softball team heads to Starkville, Miss., for a three-game series with the Western Division's Bulldogs. Mississippi State and Auburn will open with a doubleheader Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m. CT. The third game of the series, set for a 1 p.m. start as well on Sunday, will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South.
Auburn and Mississippi State will play for the first time since the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs, 4-3, in May at the 2004 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Mississippi State is coming off a series victory over No. 25 LSU, while the Tigers, who have won four straight, are coming off non-conference victories over Georgia State and Jacksonville State.
Mississippi State holds a 19-10 series advantage over Auburn, although the Tigers have won three of the last four and six of the last eight meetings between the teams. The Tigers' lone win in Starkville came on April 5, 2003, when Auburn defeated Mississippi State, 7-3.
All three games will air live on the radio as well. Those in the Auburn area can tune in at WANI-AM (1400) or on the Internet at www.auburntigers.com.
Things To Note For Auburn Softball
* Auburn is on a four-game win streak and have taken seven of its last nine games.
* The Tigers are off to the best start in school history, surpassing last season's 32-11 mark through the first 43 games of the season.
* Auburn has hit 39 home runs this season after Sara Dean and Sara Ghezzi went yard in separate non-conference games this week. That is the third-largest output in club history, trailing only 2001 (47) and 2002 (48).
* Dean's home run was her fifth this season and 20th of her career. That ties her for third-most in Auburn history with Michelle Martin.
* Kristina McCain earned her 24th walk of the season against Jacksonville State Wednesday, tying a career-high.
Ending The Non-Conference Season On a High Note
Auburn finished off its regular season non-conference schedule this week, defeating Georgia State, 4-2, on Tuesday at Jane B. Moore Field, then taking a win from Jacksonville State, 7-2, Wednesday at University Field.
Holly Currie and Sara Ghezzi both went 2-for-3 and Sara Dean hit her 20th career home run in Auburn's victory over Georgia State. Brittany Day allowed seven hits and two runs -- both unearned -- in six innings, getting her third win of the season. Beth DiPietro came on in relief of Day and earned her second save of the season.
Auburn earned its second victory of the week by rapping out eight hits and walking seven times in a 7-2 victory over the Gamecocks. Ghezzi tied a career-high with three runs batted in and Ashley Griffin chipped in with two of her own as Auburn rolled over Jacksonville State. Beth DiPietro worked in relief for the second straight day and picked up her 17th win of the season after working four innings and allowing just one hit.
Walk This Way
Kristina McCain has had a penchant for walks this season. The sophomore walked once against Jacksonville State, giving her 24 this season, the second straight campaign she has amassed that total. She's on pace for 34 this season with the Tigers scheduled for 18 more games. That number, of course, should jump depending on the number of games the Tigers play in the SEC Tournament and a possible NCAA Regional.
McCain has been taking advantage of her free passes this season. She leads the Tigers with 14 stolen bases and has been caught just four times. Her 11 doubles are also high on the Auburn statistical list, second only to Holly Currie's 17.
Catcher Sara Dean hit her fifth home run of the season against Georgia State, giving her 20 for her careeer. That ties Dean with Michelle Martin for third most in Auburn history. It's safe to say, though, that the only further movement Dean will do is to take third for her own. Ashley Moore is No. 2 in Auburn history with 40.
Both Holly Currie and Beth DiPietro have taken advantage of opponents in three ways this season. Each has earned double-digits in wins -- Currie with 14, DiPietro with 17 -- while Currie has four saves and DiPietro two. That gives the Tigers six saves on the season, good enough to tie for the SEC lead.
Going a step further, the duo has hurt opponents from the batter's box, although Currie has been a little more noticeable. Currie has 46 RBI on the season and 10 home runs, while DiPietro has two RBI -- although they've come on just nine at bats. She had one on a single in the fifth inning during Auburn's 7-2 victory over Jacksonville State.
Auburn has rapped out eight hits the last two games apiece, scoring a combined 11 runs against Georgia State and Jacksonville State.
It marks the fourth time this season the Tigers have posted the same number of hits in two or more games in a row. The club had four in consecutive games against Northwestern State and the College of Charleston on Feb. 12, and split the two. Auburn had three straight games of six hits or more at the Buzz Classic (March 5-6) and won 2-of-3 against Iowa and South Carolina. The Tigers had seven hits two straight games in the series against then-No. 9 Alabama, but fell in both.
Getting A Bit Longer
Auburn's games have gone a bit longer as the season has worn on. Of the Tigers' last eight games, seven have last more than two hours with the lone game under two hours lasting 1:52. Auburn had its longest game of the season March 23 against Alabama, with the seven-inning contest against the Crimson Tide lasting 2:48. Auburn had played 12 games lasting two hours or longer through the first 35 games of the season.
Going For Ghezzi
Sara Ghezzi has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, posting a five-game hit streak for the second time since March 13. Ghezzi has gone 10-for-17 with three doubles, one home run, six RBI and five runs scored over the streak. She has four multiple-hit games in her last five.
From March 13-22, Ghezzi also posted a five-game hit streak. She has also posted three four-game hit streaks and a three-game hit streak this season.
Runners On, Watch Out
When Auburn runners get on base, good things happen. The Tigers are batting .329 with runners on base this season, lead by Holly Currrie's .452 average and .932 slugging percentage.
Of Auburn's 39 home runs this season, 22 have come with runners on base. Meanwhile, the Tigers have helped extend an inning with 66 walks being issued with a runner on base. They've also posted 46 doubles and three triples in the situation.
Tigers On TV
Auburn was the focus of a segment on SEC-TV Thursday, airing on Fox Sports South at 5:30 p.m. CT. The segment featured Auburn's base-stealing capabilities, with the Tigers having swiped 62-of-78 bases (79 percent) attempted this season.
Lauren Walton, Sara Dean, Ashley Griffin and head coach Tina Deese talked about the team's penchant for utilizing the running game. In addition, the Tigers have been deadly against opposing base stealers this season, with Dean throwing out 50 percent (11-of-22) of all attempts against her. She is also leading the SEC with six pickoffs this season.
Currie Into The Records Books ... Again
Holly Currie etched her name into the Auburn record books again, this time in the single-season category. She had a combined six RBI against South Carolina last weekend. She now has 46 this season, the most in Auburn's history. That surpasses Mary Petrie's 43 in 2002.
Earlier this season, Currie set an Auburn and Southeastern Conference single-game mark with 10 RBI against Alabama State. That was also just one off tying the NCAA record.
Two days later, Currie didn't stop there, becoming the first Auburn pitcher to throw a perfect game. She worked six innings against the College of Charleston to accomplish the feat in Auburn's 9-0 victory.
OK, one more thing. She has 10 home runs this season after hitting three against No. 9 Alabama and South Carolina last week. That's the most a Tiger player has hit since Ashley Moore -- now an assistant coach -- belted 17 in 2002.
Welcome To April
Auburn leaves the month of March after going 16-4 in 20 games and enters the month of April. Last season, the club went 9-6 in 15 games in April en route to a 42-18 overall record. The team batted .218 with six home runs while posting a 2.77 ERA.
And By That Same Token, Goodbye March
Goodbye the month of March, you were really good. Auburn went 16-4 during the month, including a spotless 6-0 mark at Jane B. Moore Field. The Tigers batted .318 in 20 games, highlighted by 21 home runs, 34 doubles and four triples. Holly Currie paced the club with a .456 batting average, and was backed up Paige Jones' .392.
Auburn posted a 2.36 ERA in the month. Beth DiPietro started 10 games and finished 9-3 while Currie's 1.85 ERA led the way to a 6-1 record. The duo combined to throw 10 complete games, with four ending up as shutouts.
The Lolani Alvarez Spotlight
Lolani Alvarez has responded offensively over the last four games, posting a four-game hit streak during the stretch. She's 5-for-13 with two home runs -- both coming against South Carolina in the second game of a doubleheader -- with five RBI and two runs scored. She had four RBI in the second game against South Carolina, setting a career-high. The four-game hit streak is also a personal best. For the season, Alvarez has four home runs, 23 RBI and is batting .247 with four walks.