Depending on key returners both in the field and on the mound, Coach John Pawlowski's club is hoping to get off to a strong start this season to get ready for what should be a particularly tough SEC schedule.
One of the keys to Auburn's performance this season will be how well the Tigers pitch and play defense. With college baseball sucess now more dependent on those two parts of the game, Pawlowski went out in search of someone to help shore up one of the weak areas for Auburn the last few seasons.
Bringing in junior college All-American Damek Tomscha to improve the defense at third base, Pawlowski is hoping that move along with a more experienced and polished Dan Glevenyak at shortstop will make the Tigers a more solid defensive club this season.
Tomscha says for his part he's just ready to get the season started and he feels good about where his game is heading into the opener on Friday.
"I feel like I've done a pretty good job getting myself ready for the season," Tomscha says. "I know hitting-wise I feel pretty good; my stance is pretty balanced and stuff so I'm just ready to get out there and start playing games."
A standout performer who helped his Iowa Western team to a 62-6 record and the juco national championship last season, Tomscha was a 19th round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs following his sophomore season. It was the third time the 6-2, 230-pounder has been selected, but he wanted to play against the best in the SEC and that's good news for Auburn.
Tomscha and the Tigers will face a Maine team this weekend picked to finish second in the America East Conference behind 2012 Cinderella story, Stony Brook. With a record of 28-28 last season, Maine advanced to the championship round of the conference tournament before falling to Stony Brook to end the year.
The Black Bears return 17 lettermen and six starters from last season's club led by infielder Michael Fransoso. Hitting .327 last season, Fransoso had five home runs, four triples, 18 doubles, 19 stolen bases and 26 RBI.
Solidifying the infield are juniors Troy Black and Alex Calbick. Black hit a team-high .338 last season with 30 runs scored and 21 RBI. He stole 17 bases and had five doubles. Calbick posted a .287 batting average with 40 runs scored and 43 RBI. He had 18 doubles and five home runs on the season.
Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 3 p.m. CST for Friday's opener, noon for a doubleheader on Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Sophomore Daniel Koger will start the opener for the Tigers with fellow sophomore Rocky McCord pitching the first game on Saturday and junior college transfer Michael O'Neal getting the ball in game number two. Sunday's starter has not been announced by Pawlowski.