By Adam Brown
Ole Miss softball will return to the diamond on Friday as they play host to the Auburn Tigers in the final SEC home matchup of the regular season. The first pitch is set for at 5 p.m. on SEC Network.
Ole Miss (29-15, 10-8 SEC) comes into the weekend after an 8-0 win over UT Martin on Wednesday night to close out their midweek non-conference slate.
The Rebels had Ava Tillman in the circle against the Skyhawks.
“She really set the tone in the circle,” coach Jamie Trachsel said. “Executing her pitches and getting our defense up to make some plays.”
Offensively the Rebels used a big fifth and six inning to secure the win.
“We really handled our midweeks well and went undefeated in midweeks,” Trachsel said. “We think that has put us in a good position in seeding in the postseason.”
For all of the games played at the Ole Miss Softball Complex this season, the Rebels are 19-2.
Trachsel and her staff have four batters hitting over .300 on the season, including Tate Whitley (.388), Blaise Biringer (.357), Paige Smith (.320) and Sydney Gutierrez (.314).
“Our lineup has been great,” Trachsel said. “Each weekend we have had different people step up. When you are hitting over .300 at this stage of the season, I think that is a credit to our hitting coach Katie (Rietkovich Browder) and a credit to our hitters. Every day when we come to practice, we continue training and building, preparing our skill set. They have really bought into that, and they continue to get better, and we like the direction that we are going and the production that we are seeing.”
Auburn (25-14) heads into the weekend series with a 5-10 record in conference play. Despite the rough start, Auburn has turned it around as of late in SEC play, taking two-of-three from Texas A&M and No. 12 Kentucky earlier this month.
Senior Tyler King leads Auburn with a .340 batting average and is tied for the team lead in hits with Makenna Dowell (34). The Tigers bring in a balanced offensive attack with eight players scoring double-digit runs on the season and five with 12+ runs batted in.
Pitching has been the strong suit for Auburn this season, which is led by a pair of freshmen in the circle. Shelby Lowe is 12-4 with a 1.07 ERA through 118.0 innings pitched. The southpaw has 147 strikeouts during the year. Teammate Maddie Penta owns an 8-6 record in 16 starts this season. In 77.1 innings of work this season, she has a 2.44 ERA, and opponents are batting only .194.
This is the first meeting between the Rebels and Auburn since 2018 when the Tigers took two-of-three games in Oxford.