Auburn, Ala.--After splitting a pair of midweek games with Bethune-Cookman, the 25th-ranked Auburn Tigers (6-3) hit the road for the first time this season as Coach John Pawlowski’s baseball team travels to Charleston, S.C., to play in the College of Charleston Classic this weekend.
Facing off against New York Tech (0-0) on Friday, College of Charleston (8-1) on Saturday and Western Kentucky (5-3) on Sunday, the Tigers will have a chance to see what they’re made of on the road for the first time this season.
“It’s going to be a great challenge,” Pawlowski said. “Bringing a team on the road for the first time is always a positive thing as far as seeing what the expectations are on the road. Going on the road is a great test in itself with the guys we have.
“New York Tech, we know they are going to be anxious to play,” he added. “It’s opening day for them. Western Kentucky, year in and year out, contends in their conference. It’s going to not necessarily be about them or the College of Charleston, but about Auburn. What can we do to make sure we’re ready to play and try to find a way to do the things we need to do to be successful.”
The head coach at College of Charleston for nine seasons before moving to Auburn, Pawlowski along with pitching coach Scott Foxhall will be returning to a place where they had a lot of success with the Cougars. Pawlowski said it’s going to be a special weekend for them to go back, but the main goal is to improve as a baseball team and get wins.
That improvement must start at the plate where Auburn has struggled with consistency and not having quality at-bats. Even though the Tigers lead the SEC in doubles this season with 28, that hasn’t translated to being as productive on offense as Pawlowski would like and it all begins with the approach at the plate.
With the deadened bats the coach said it’s important to hit ground balls and line drives and not get caught up in trying to hit the ball out of the park.
“I think it’s so important now with the emphasis on being able to execute a swing to manufacture runs,” Pawlowski said. “Already you can tell by the number of home runs the way you have to score runs. It has been an adjustment period for everybody. Our guys are certainly going through it.
"We’re going to continue to work with them and flatten out those swings," Pawlowski said. "We’ve got an older group and we think they’re making some great strides even though the results aren’t there yet.”
Derek Varnadore, who pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout for Auburn on Sunday, is the SEC Pitcher of the Week.
Game times for the weekend for the Tigers are noon CST on Friday and Saturday against New York Tech and College of Charleston with a 10 a.m. Central start on Sunday for the contest against Western Kentucky.
Junior Cory Luckie (0-1, 4.91 ERA) gets the call on Friday against Preston Wasmund (0-0, 0.00). Sophomore Slade Smith (1-0, 6.10) will go up against Josh Renfro (2-0, 1.64) on Saturday with SEC Pitcher of the Week Derek Varnadore (2-0, 0.00) facing off against Taylor Haydel (1-1, 5.84) on Sunday.
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