Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” Well … that and the thoughts of baseball. With chilly mornings and frost still on the ground, it’s hard to believe its that time of year again.
But on the college level, baseball usually comes quickly on the heals of football’s National Signing Day. For many Americans, baseball like spring, awakens thoughts of new life.
It brings hope and stirs the imagination. After all it is a part of the American fabric. Coming at the start of spring every year it reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a chance to start over.
At the end of last season the Auburn Baseball Team was left with the feeling of what might have been. A couple of do-over’s would have made a big difference in how the Tigers finished 2012. Just two weeks before the end of the season it looked like the Tigers would be playing in the post season.
Auburn had enough wins (31) to qualify for the NCAA Tournament but with an RPI of 57, they were one of the teams that were on the bubble.
After losing a 5-3 game to Defending National Champion South Carolina in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers received the disappointing news they would not be selected for the Big Dance.
It was the second year for a narrow miss at an NCAA postseason berth. Its been a frustrating pill to swallow coming on the heals of the 2010 West Division Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.
But Friday will start a new day as the Tigers open with an eleven day home stand on Hitchcock Field. Fifth year coach John Pawlowski, true to form is optimistic despite being picked to finish sixth in the West.
The coach said his team has high goals for 2013. “We have a good, core group of returning players,” Pawlowski said. “The top four hitters are back from last year’s team and pitching-wise we have some young, talented arms. There is a lot of excitement and energy heading into the season.”
Those four returning veterans are …
Ryan Tella (.360), Cullen Wacker (.350), Garrett Cooper (.324) and Dan Glevenyak (.319). The four combined to score 40 percent of the offense last season (141 out of 351 runs).
Most of the starting pitchers from last year’s roster are gone but sophomore pitcher Daniel Koger (3.19) will be returning. He led the team last season in ERA (min. 10 appearances) and was second in innings pitched (79).
Last year’s team ERA of 3.92 was the lowest since the 2005 season and only the second time since 1996 that it was below 4.00. Rocky McCord and Trey Cochran-Gill will also be returning.
Even though Auburn failed to make the NCAA Tournament the last two years, there’s still room for optimism as the Tigers have a combined 47-43 (.522) record in the SEC over the past three seasons. The 47 wins are the most over a three-year span since the team went 48-42 (.533) from 2001-03 and won 51 from 1998-2000.
And after a long off season, Auburn gets a fresh chance to start over this Friday when they open against the University of Maine at 3 pm at Plainsman Park.
Hopefully the 2013 Tigers can take care of business and pick up where they left off in 2012. Besides that’s what baseball does. It reminds us of new beginnings, new birth, and a chance to start over. I can’t wait …
Take me out to the ball game!
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