Game 1: Auburn 3, Mississippi State 2
In what was the longest softball game I can say I've ever paid attention to, Alexis Silkwood went toe-to-toe in one of the most incredible pitching performances in Mississippi State history. 13.1 innings with 216 pitches against a very rigorous batting order is incredibly impressive. Though it's frustrating to not come away with a win here, there's a lot to be proud of from Silkwood's performance, and runs come at a premium against Auburn's pitching staff. Read more about it here.
Game 2: Mississippi State 6, Auburn 3
Thanks to Holly Ward for keeping Auburn's bats quiet until a small run late in the game, the Bulldogs were able to come away with a victory here. Opportunistic two-out hitting and a few mistakes from Auburn's pitching lead to a 5-0 lead in the second inning. Amanda Ivy and Katie Anne Bailey's clutch hitting helped lead the team's offensive explosion and lead the team to victory. Read more about it here.
Game 3: Auburn 2, Mississippi State 0
After her dominant performance on Friday, Alexis Silkwood would return to the circle to try and get another win. Silkwood had an up and down performance and struggled with command at times, but kept Auburn from causing too much damage in her time in the circle. Freshman Regan Green would relieve her and would perform well in the pitcher's duel with Auburn. MSU struggled to hits, but it really felt like they could have struck anytime and taken the lead. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so. Read more about it here.
The series as a whole
The Bulldogs played admirably under these circumstances. Auburn is an incredibly talented, well rounded team that has a considerably larger roster and nine seniors. The Tigers had previously been scoring 10.5 runs per game but could only muster eight runs in 28 innings of play on the weekend. Auburn had also been outscoring opponents by a margin of 8.93 runs per game but failed to outscore a team on a hitting slump from a road trip. So, the pitching performed incredibly well under these circumstances, and MSU's opportunistic scoring approach faired moderately well. This young Bulldogs team has a lot to be proud of from this weekend, but still a lot to learn from and improve upon. Going toe-to-toe and punch-for-punch with Auburn says a lot about the potential of this team. They'll have plenty of opportunities down the road to show their development and talent.
What was special?
There were a lot of interesting things from this weekend, but what was particularly special, and heartwarming, was seeing freshman pitcher Cori Cooper's sister surprise Cori by showing up at her softball game after returning from active duty in the Navy.
What was not?
Well, runs were at a premium for both teams, but it felt like Mississippi State has struggled mightily as of late to generate an offense. Though Auburn gave up six runs on Saturday, five of those came in one inning and the momentum could not be sustained. There were several instances of runners being left on base after threatening. And although this was against one of the best pitching staffs in the nation, it's still frustrating to see. Hopefully, as the team matures and continues to mesh, they'll be able to take advantage of these situations.
Midweek games against Southeastern Louisiana and Central Arkansas will close out the home slate for the Bulldogs. Both of these games are rematches from earlier in the season. MSU beat Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond 8-0 in five innings and topped Central Arkansas 3-0 in Starkville as part of the Bulldog Slamboree.
After these games, Vann Stuedeman will take her team up to Knoxville to take on 16th ranked Tennessee who 30-1 so far on the season. The Bulldogs and the Vols faced off last year during Super Bulldog Weekend as MSU was swept at home.