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Mar 28, 2023; Auburn, AL, USA; The team during the game between Auburn and North Alabama at Plainsman Park. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics
Mar 28, 2023; Auburn, AL, USA; The team during the game between Auburn and North Alabama at Plainsman Park. Mandatory Credit: Jacob Taylor/AU Athletics

Auburn look to get back on track against Texas A&M

AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn (18-10-1, 3-6 SEC) will return to action at Plainsman Park against Texas A&M (18-11, 3-6 SEC) for a three-game series starting this Thursday. 

Texas A&M has impressed this year despite holding six conference losses. Much as Auburn has played the likes of No. 3 Arkansas and No. 2 Florida, the Aggies have faced off against tough competition in No. 1 LSU and No. 12 Tennessee. 

However, Auburn has struggled recently, losing three straight games after a disappointing result Tuesday night against UAB.

"You just keep getting right back into the frame. That's what I expect from our guys is to keep battling," head coach Butch Thompson said. "We are at a very important part of our schedule, just like our whole league is every year. We're at that portion of our schedule where we have to keep fighting."

While Auburn has been battling to get wins and dealing with injuries, mainly to the pitching staff, Texas A&M has found a breath of fresh air that has led to winning three out of the last four games, including a series win over fellow SEC opponent Ole Miss. 

Looking back on history, Auburn has been able to dominate in recent years, not allowing the Aggies to take a series on The Plains since 2016. However, this year may be different, as Auburn may not have the needed pitching to hold off the high-powered Texas A&M offense. 

The Aggies hold a .273 average as a team to go along with 212 runs through 29 games this season. 

Jace LaViolette has played a big part in that, as the freshman has been able to turn production up to another level recently. At the conclusion of the SEC opening weekend, LaViolette was hitting .209 with 25 strikeouts, but has been able to record 11 RBI in the last seven games, which included a crucial grand slam against Ole Miss in the opening game of the series. 

Evan Aschenbeck will most certainly cause problems down the stretch for the Tigers. The left-handed pitcher has made 10 appearances from the bullpen to shut down opponents. The junior has been able to post a 2.89 ERA, which is a team-best for pitchers with at least two innings of action. Aschenbeck has shinned recently, only giving up one run in the last three appearances on the mound to go along with 10 strikeouts. 

It will be crucial for Auburn’s big bats to show up once again. Ike Irish will need to put the UAB game in the past after going 0-for-4, as Thompson will need to rely on the freshman’s .395 average throughout all three games of the series to have success. 

Bryson Ware will also play a big role in the Tigers' offense. The senior will look to get a multi-hit game for the first time in three games. Currently, this is only the second time this season Ware has had at least three games in between a multi-hit outing. 

There is a possibility that more eyes will be on an event held outside of Plainsman Park this Saturday. After much anticipation, Frank Thomas will finally receive a statute right out front of the gates at the ballpark. 

"This has been about a five-year odyssey to get this to this point for this Saturday," Thompson added. "There's nothing better to tell the history of our program and story than having that statue out front. It's an unbelievable addition to Plainsman Park. I hope it's celebrated by not only Auburn, but by our entire conference. To honor somebody who had that type of significance on the game of baseball, and he's one of ours, it's a big deal."

Thomas is currently the only member of the Southeastern Conference to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

The series will get underway Thursday night with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. CT, while Friday will start at 6 p.m. CT and Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CT. Thursday night’s game will be broadcasted nationally on the SEC Network with the two following matchups taking place on the SEC Network+.

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