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Mississippi State Softball Series Preview: Auburn

To open SEC play for the season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs will take on the 3rd ranked Auburn Tigers.

Kelly Price/

After an 18-6 start to the season, Vann Stuedeman and her team will open up SEC play with a three game against the No. 3 team in the nation, the Auburn Tigers (24-3).

Despite a hot start to the season and the recent return of junior star pitcher Alexis Silkwood, the Bulldogs are currently on a three game losing streak after a rough road trip out to Long Beach, California for the Louisville Slugger Invitational. The Bulldogs opened up the invitational with a 5-2 win over UC Santa Barbra but after a rained out meeting with 14th ranked UCLA, the Bulldogs then dropped games to Cal State Fullerton 2-0, Long Beach State 5-1, and Cal State Fullerton 3-2.

Mississippi State will try to revive their bats against a pitching staff that has a 1.58 team ERA while only giving up 113 hits and 43 total runs over 164.0 innings. By comparison, MSU's pitchers have the third best team ERA in the SEC with 1.37 while giving up 111 hits and 44 runs over 164 innings.

While the Bulldogs and Tigers are fairly even when it comes to pitching, it seems that Auburn's batters are more explosive in their approach at the plate. Auburn has an impressive team batting average of .378 and has 52 doubles, 10 triples, and an astonishing 41 home runs. The Bulldogs are batting .289 with 28 doubles, 5 triples, and 9 home runs. MSU, however, has 39 steals, 30 more than Auburn's total of nine on the year.

This will be the first of a very rigorous SEC stretch, as the visiting Tigers are the first of five SEC teams that Mississippi State will face that made the 2015 Women's College World Series. Auburn opened SEC play with a series loss to top ranked Florida last weekend and is 1-2 in SEC play as a result.

MSU owns a 30-27 lead over Auburn in the all-time series, along with a 16-11 advantage when playing in Starkville, however, this will be the first meeting in Nusz Park.

After Auburn, Mississippi State will play Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday and Central Arkansas on Wednesday before going to Knoxville to take on 19th ranked Tennessee next weekend.