Earlier in the day he will walk across the stage as an Auburn graduate with a degree in Physical Health and Activity, setting up the potential for a memorable day for McCord and the No. 23 Tigers (32-17, 12-12) as they try to wrap up a spot in the postseason with a series win over the Crimson Tide (25-24, 8-16).
“It should be good,” McCord said of his Saturday that includes walking at the 10 a.m. graduation ceremony. “Hopefully, it could be the best day of your life or the worst if you come out and pitch bad. It will be a good day no matter what the outcome is. I’ll have all my family here with me. My little brother (Miss. State pitcher Jesse McCord) is going to be able to come and watch me too. It will be a good day.
“I just plan on waking up and going and getting my diploma and coming straight to the field,” he added. “My mind is set on baseball, not graduation.”
That focus has been razor sharp this season for McCord and that has been a huge plus for the Tigers. Throwing just two and two/thirds innings last season in five appearances, the senior from Spanish Fort has made an about face in 2015 with a 5-3 record and an ERA of 3.34 in his 13 starts. Putting it all together in his final season after deciding against turning pro last summer, McCord said getting the chance to finish against Alabama is the perfect situation in his mind.
“From what I have heard the tickets are all sold out for this weekend,” McCord said. “It’s a big weekend for us, but it’s means a lot for them too. I know they are trying to get into the SEC Tournament. Their season hasn’t gone as planned, but they have a great team. They are going to come out and play hard.
“I had a rough time here earlier in my career,” he added. “Just to come back this year and have the season I’ve had lately has been an honor.”
With Keegan Thompson cleared to begin throwing again, but not expected to see any time on the mound this weekend, Auburn will continue with the rotation of Cole Lipscomb (6-2, 2.44 ERA) on Friday, McCord on Saturday and Dalton Rentz (3-1, 2.27) on Sunday. They will face off against the rotation of Taylor Guilbeau (2-5, 3.82), Jake Walters (4-3, 2.45) and Geoffrey Bramlett (6-3, 2.15) for the Crimson Tide.
At the plate Anfernee Grier leads the way for the Tigers with a .376 average, one home run, 19 RBI and 22 doubles, but in conference play Daniel Robert has been the main man for Auburn’s offense. Starting all 24 games in league play, Robert leads the team with a .337 average, has one of the team’s three home runs, and has a team-high 16 RBI. As a team Auburn is hitting just .263 against SEC pitching, but it has been on the mound and defensively where the Tigers have made their mark.
Against league foes Auburn has a team ERA of just 3.77 with 159 strikeouts and only 95 walks while holding opponents to a .252 batting average. Throw in a fielding percentage of .978 and you have a big reason why the Tigers have won 11 of their last 13 games.
Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All games can be seen on SEC Network Plus.