Coming off a stretch of eight games in ten days, Auburn's pitching staff will be somewhat depleted and that leaves the start to true freshman Arnold Hughey (1-0). Solid in his last outing, a 13-1 Auburn win over UAB last Tuesday in Birmingham, the left-hander will once again get the call for a mid-week start. Allowing opponents a batting average of .275, Hughey has an earned run average of 3.72 in nine and two/thirds innings pitched.
Opposing Hughey on the mound for the Trojans will be Justin Eason. A junior right-hander, Eason is 1-3 on the year with an ERA of 6.31 in just over 35 innings pitched.
Expected to be on a strict pitch count once again, Hughey will likely give way to the bullpen in the early innings. Who will pitch for the Tigers from that point on is anyone's guess but several candidates could be Lee Carter, Sean Jones, Reid Price and even designated hitter Mike Mueller, who is 0-0 on the season in one inning pitched.
At the plate it has been the Javon Moran show of late. Hitting safely in the eight-game winning streak, the sophomore center fielder is 14-for-34 during the stretch for a .412 average with 11 runs scored and a .459 on-base percentage.
Also hot is redshirt freshman outfielder Doug Vines. Going 5-for-5 on Sunday, he became the first Auburn player in almost a year to collect five hits in a single game. He raised his batting average 157 points on one day. Also coming on is another freshman, Montgomery native Matt Grooms. Going 5-for-11 against North Carolina last weekend with four runs batted in, including his first home run Friday night that tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, Grooms raised his average from .194 to .262. Working extra-hard in the cage before and after games with the coaching staff to improve his approach at the plate, he appears to be headed out of the early season slump that had him struggling to find his rhythm at the dish.
One player who hasn't been in a slump this season is designated hitter/catcher Bobby Huddleston. Hitting .481 on the year with two home runs, eight doubles and 16 runs batted in, Huddleston missed all of last weekend's sweep over North Carolina because of a concussion suffered in the Samford game last Wednesday night. Hit in the head with a bat while behind the plate, Huddleston had to miss the three weekend games while trying to get rid of headaches that are a symptom of concussions. Now void of the headaches, he is expected back in the lineup Tuesday night as the Tigers return to his hometown to face the Trojans.
The Trojans enter Tuesday night's contest scoring just over six runs per game as a team and hitting .301 as a team. They are led at the plate by Coby Smith who is batting .420 with three home runs and 13 runs batted in. Right behind him is big Wade Miller at .417 on the season with two home runs and 16 runs batted in. The Trojans have hit 21 home runs as a team but have given up 28 in just 19 games as reflect in a team ERA of 6.22.
The Tigers return to action Friday night when they face the visiting Kentucky Wildcats for the first of a three-game series that opens conference play for both teams. The first pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday's game is set for a 3 p.m start and Sunday's getaway game has been moved up to a 12:30 p.m. start to accommodate Kentucky's travel plans. Tickets are on sale now for this and all remaining SEC series and can be ordered by calling 1-800-AUB-1957.