"Obviously we are disappointed we didn't get in," Pawlowski says. "I thought our team played very well the second half of the season after the start we had in the SEC. I'm very proud of what they did in the second half."
Despite a strong finish, winning series over Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas to close out the regular season, Auburn's 13-17 record in SEC play and a weak non-conference schedule proved to be too much to overcome for the Tigers. Opening the season against Maine (142 RPI), Eastern Illinois (177) and Brown (286) in its three series before SEC play didn't help Auburn's chances with the committee looking for teams that challenged themselves outside of league action.
Even without the tough games early on Auburn's strength of schedule still ranked 31st in the country thanks to 27 games against teams that earned a berth in regional play. The Tigers were 11-16 in those contests.
When you look at the overall field there were some interesting names that came up in comparison to Auburn. UCLA, a team that is hosting a regional despite going just 5-8 against RPI Top 50 teams in 2013. A national seed, Oregon was just 6-10 in the regular season against Top 50 teams.
Among bubble teams Illinois was just 3-6 against Top 50 opponents this season while New Mexico had just one win over a Top 50 team this season. Yet both got at-large bids on Monday.
In the end Auburn likely needed one more win to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It's safe to say the Tigers will look back on series losses to Alabama and Missouri and failing to sweep Georgia as the differences between continuing to play and putting the bats away until next season.
The difference could be as easy as one swing of the bat. Leading 4-1 in the ninth inning in Gainesville against Florida, Auburn allowed four runs and lost a heartbreaker 5-4. That loss would make the Gators 28-29 and ineligible for postseason play.
The Southeastern Conference got nine teams into the tournament this season with both Texas A&M and Florida getting in and the Aggies earning a #2 seed at Oregon State. Auburn defeated both teams on the road in a series this season, but finished behind both in the SEC standings.