Strong pitchers duel awaits as Auburn faces Northwestern

Softball fans who enjoy a great pitcher’s duel will be in for a treat this weekend as Auburn will face Northwestern twice as part of the Jane B. Moore Memorial Tournament.

Auburn’s maddie penta has been amazing in the circle lately. Over her last three appearances, she has recorded 34 strikeouts and has allowed just two hits in 20 innings of work. In her most recent outing, Penta tossed a perfect game by striking out 13 batters in Auburn’s win over Georgia State on Thursday evening.

Her potential challenger this week will be Northwestern’s Ashley Miller, who boasts a 0.89 ERA with 38 strikeouts and just four earned runs allowed in eight appearances this season. Her best outing to date was a four-hit, 11-strikeout line in a 2-0 win over Arizona State in her first appearance of the spring.

Ahead of this weekend’s action, Sydney Fields of College Softball Central broke down the impending games between Auburn and Northwestern. Fields says that runs for Auburn will be scarce when Miller takes the circle.

“The pitching in these games will be very fun to watch,” Fields said. “Ashley Miller holds a 0.89 ERA and was just named the Big 10 Pitcher of the Week. Auburn will have to work extremely hard to get hits and runs off her. Last weekend, she allowed just one run in 17.0 innings pitched at the Mary Nutter Classic. Expect that game to be a low-scoring pitcher’s duel.”

The good news for Auburn is that Northwestern’s pitching dives once Miller exits, so it will be important for the bats to find a way to strike early and often.

“Outside of Miller, Northwestern’s pitching just doesn’t stand out,” Fields said. “The others hold above a 3.00 ERA and allow a good amount of hits. I don’t think the Auburn offense will struggle too much outside of Miller’s pitching.”

On the other side, how will Penta fare against Northwestern’s bats? The Wildcats have four batters hitting above .300 and have clubbed 13 home runs as a team. Penta has been hot lately, while the Northwestern bats have not. Fields believes that could give Auburn an advantage.

“Maddie Penta continues to be so impressive throughout her career. There’s no doubt she’s one of the best in the country,” Fields said. “The Northwestern offense was really good in Clearwater, but they dropped their first two games last weekend because they couldn’t score a single run. They ended the weekend with 13 runs total.”

Fans have the potential of seeing this matchup twice this weekend. The first meeting will occur Friday at 5 p.m. CT, with part two at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire