STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State softball team wrapped up regular season play this past weekend, losing its final Southeastern Conference road series at Auburn.
The Bulldogs finished the regular season 28-24 and 7-16 in SEC play. A team that seemed completely out of sorts in the middle of conference play, losing 14-straight games, won four of its final six games to get itself back into the NCAA tournament conversation.
Here is what we learned from this weekend’s series at Auburn.
Missed opportunities put Bulldogs in tough postseason position
Despite its 14-game conference losing streak, MSU still found itself on the NCAA tournament bubble this past weekend, thanks to the previous weekend’s home series sweep of Kentucky.
The Bulldogs had a chance to keep their hot streak going in Friday’s series opener against the Tigers. It appeared MSU was well on its way to a fourth-straight conference victory, leading Auburn 2-1 after five innings.
However, the Tigers rattled off six runs in the sixth inning to take a commanding 5-2 lead and win the game.
Friday’s loss, especially in that comeback fashion, had to have been deflating for a Bulldogs team that felt like it had righted the ship.
Clutch hitting evened the series
On Saturday, MSU evened the series thanks to a 5-4 extra-inning victory.
The Bulldogs scored two runs after the fifth inning, both coming from a pair of graduate seniors who wanted to keep their season alive. Jackie McKenna, MSU’s catcher, recorded an RBI single in the top of the sixth to tie the game at four, and eventually send the game to extra innings. That is where Chloe Malau’ulu, MSU’s left fielder, put the Bulldogs in front with an RBI single in the ninth to even the series.
However, in the final game of the regular season, MSU’s offense went cold, tallying just one hit in the 3-0 defeat, and leaving some more work to do come this week’s SEC Tournament.
The Bulldogs, who finished as the No. 12 seed in the SEC, will play No. 13 Missouri on Tuesday to open the SEC tournament (6:30 p.m./SECN) in Fayetteville.
Justin Frommer is the Mississippi State sports reporter for The Dispatch.
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