With a drought of six years without an SEC Tournament berth, the 2010 Auburn Tigers came into the season with a simple goal of making it to Hoover. Heading into the final game of the regular season the Tigers have done much more than that as a win over the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday would finish off an impewaaicw run for Coach John Pawlowski’s Tigers.
Currently 38-17 overall and 19-10 in SEC play, Auburn has already set a school record for conference wins in a regular season and now is shooting for bigger things. Winning the Western Division outright with an 18-4 victory over Ole Miss on Friday, the Tigers have their sights set on tournament baseball, both in the SEC and the NCAA.
“We’ve got a lot more to do, and that’s the reason there wasn’t a whole big celebration,” catcher Ryan Jenkins says. “I think we have some more celebrating to do, and we’ve got to do it on another field.”
Auburn is hoping that field could be Plainsman Park in a few weeks. With the number two seed wrapped up for the SEC Tournament, the Tigers are playing for their NCAA seeding in the coming days. With an RPI in the Top 20 at the moment, a win over the Rebels would make Auburn a strong contender for a host site in the NCAA tournament when the pairings are announced as just two SEC teams that won a division have failed to host a regional since the league went to divisional play.
If a strong finish has any bearing on the selection committee then the Tigers could be in very good shape. Winners in 11 of its last 13 games in the league, Auburn has won five straight series in SEC play and six of its last seven. Those 11 wins equal or better the entire SEC wins total for Auburn in every year since 2005 and is the best run in league play for an Auburn team since the 2001 squad went 11-1 after losing the first nine games of the conference season.
Dan Gamache is one of the many reasons why the Tigers have been so good offensively this season. The number eight hitter for Auburn is hitting .408 with seven home runs and 34 RBI this season and has a pair of homers in the series against Ole Miss.
Much of the reason for the recent success and Auburn’s season as a whole is because of an offense that has been nearly unstoppable in 2010. Hitting .354 as a team with a school record 113 home runs, the Tigers have scored 516 runs in just 55 games and has a slugging percentage of .599.
On the flip side the pitching has been perhaps the biggest surprise and also the key to Auburn’s success in SEC play. In the last four wins over Tennessee and Ole Miss, the Tigers have allowed just nine total runs while scoring 50.
A team that was picked fifth in the preseason SEC predictions, Auburn has erased all doubts with its play this season. Now the Tigers are looking to finish the regular season with a sweep to put the finishing touches on a memorable regular season. With the way Pawlowski’s Tigers are playing the magic could continue well into the postseason and for a group of players that have toiled through some trying times on the Plains, it’s a run that is well deserved.
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