Fradejas Leading AU Charge For Postseason

Auburn senior Justin Fradejas continued his strong play with a big weekend in the Tigers' series win over Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming into last weekend the Auburn Tigers desperately needed a solid performance against rival Alabama with their postseason fate hanging in the balance, and that's exactly what Coach John Pawlowski's club delivered as they won two of three from the Crimson Tide to pull into a tie for first place in the SEC Western Division heading into the final weekend.

One of the stars for the Tigers was senior right fielder Justin Fradejas. Hitting safely in all three games of the series, he was 6-12 with five runs scored and two RBI against Alabama. That continued a torrid stretch for Fradejas as he has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games with multiple hits in nine of those contests. During that stretch he is a combined 23-53 (.434) with 14 runs scored and nine runs batted in.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Fradejas said. "I'm just trying to get on base anyway I can. I like to try to get on so Dan (Gamache) and Casey McElroy can drive me in. Anytime I can help them pick up an RBI I'll be happy."

Winning both games of a doubleheader on Saturday before dropping Sunday's contest, Auburn defeated Alabama three times this season in four contest. Pulling out two wins on Saturday could prove to be a huge boost for the Tigers heading into the final weekend series at Tennessee as the Tigers, Crimson Tide, Arkansas and Mississippi State are all 13-14 heading into the final weekend.

"It's huge especially with everything turning out like it has in the West," Fradejas said. "It's a four-way tie so it's huge. Not to mention we've got to find a way to stay above .500 so if we do make the (SEC) tournament we can make (NCAA) regionals. It's huge to win any weekend."

With an overall record of 28-24, Auburn is now not only concerned with making the SEC Tournament but also about the NCAA. With a game Tuesday night at South Alabama and three at Tennessee that makes four contests for Pawlowski's team still left on the regular season schedule.

Because the NCAA has mandated that teams must be over .500 following the regular season, Auburn must win two of the remaining four games to avoid any chance of finishing at that mark. Because of that Fradejas said the first order of business this week is against the Jaguars in Mobile on Tuesday.

"Midweek games have kind of become just as important as SEC games lately," Fradejas said. "That's simply because we've got to make sure we stay above .500 after the SEC Tournament. Midweek games are just as important as the weekend games."

After starting the SEC season 2-7 Auburn has been 11-7 the rest of the way leading into this weekend's series against the Vols. The Tigers have been swept three times (Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, South Carolina), but have won the other six series in league play. They're hoping to keep that going for one more strong push at defending the SEC Western Division title they won last year.

"I'm pretty confident," Fradejas said. "Hopefully we can go to Tennessee and take care of business and finish up winning the West."

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