Sunday that was accomplished as Auburn was named one of 16 host sites for this weekend's regional round of play in the 64-team field.
Since losing to Alabama last season in the Tuscaloosa Regional, an overriding focus for this year's team has been to have the chance to play in front of the home fans in the postseason. Coach Steve Renfroe said that his team has done everything it had to do in the regular season and earned the right to be a host at Plainsman Park beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
"It was a goal," Renfroe said. "When we have the number one facility in the country people kind of expect it. You just don't know how much work you have to do to get there. In January with the schedule we put together, that's a tall order. We had some games we had to win, and we did. We won on Sunday at Baton Rouge, we won on Sunday night against Ole Miss. They beat Sowers (Jeremy Sowers from Vanderbilt) and came back and beat the number two team (South Carolina) and got to 40. When you look at that I thought it was a lofty, but very attainable goal. It was goal they set and they accomplished it."
Coach Steve Renfroe
Winning series over projected regional teams North Carolina, Clemson, Virginia Commonwealth and Elon outside of the conference in addition to splitting a series against Georgia Tech, Auburn has accomplished a great deal this season and was rewarded for its season-long play. Renfroe said many factors went into the committee's decision on Sunday.
"It's a great day for Auburn and Auburn baseball to bring a regional back to Auburn," he said. "It's a first since 1999. It's nice that we did it in a year when we were picked as the number one facility in the country. The administration did a great job in bidding and setting things up. I think the kids on the field did the rest to make it pretty much a slam dunk after the season they put together. We're looking forward to a great week in Auburn in hosting."
In addition to Auburn, the SEC only received two other regional sites with LSU and Mississippi State getting host sites, leaving South Carolina out in the cold. The states of Texas and California were well represented in the sites with three schools from each state holding regionals.
Other sites announced on Sunday were Tempe, Arizona's Diablo Stadium, with Arizona State as the host, Fullerton, Calif. (Cal-State Fullerton), Florida State, Georgia Tech, Long Beach (Long Beach State), Miami, Fla. (Miami), Lincoln, Neb. (Nebraska), Wilson, N.C. (North Carolina State), Houston, Tex. (Rice), Hattiesburg, Miss. (Southern Miss), Palo Alto, Calif. (Stanford), Austin, Tex. (Texas) and College Station, Tex. (Texas A&M).
The announcement for the full field of 64 comes on Monday morning at 11:30 CDT on ESPN2. The Southeastern Conference is expected to get at least six teams into the field with South Carolina, Alabama and Ole Miss virtual locks to received a bid. There's also a chance that Florida could slip into the field as could Arkansas, but neither can feel good about its chances with the wealth of quality teams around the country.
Just like in football, the RPI could have a huge impact on how the field shapes up when it's announced on Monday. As of Sunday, Auburn had the number three RPI in the country behind Florida State and Miami with Georgia Tech fourth and LSU fifth. Other SEC teams in the ratings are Mississippi State at 15, Alabama at 18, Arkansas at 30, Florida at 31 and Ole Miss at 32.
The schedule for the regional in Auburn is as follows:
Game--TBA vs. TBA, 2:30 p.m.
Game 2--Auburn vs. TBA, 6:30 p.m.
Game 3--Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 11:30 a.m.
Game 4--Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 3 p.m.
Game 5--Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 6:30 p.m.
Game 6--Game 4 Winner vs. Game 5 Winner, 1:30 p.m.
Game 7--If necessary, 5 p.m.