Tigers Return to NCAA Tournament Field

First year head coach Tom Slater has his Tigers back in postseason play as the Tigers travel to Tallahassee, Florida and will open play vs. South Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--After not receiving a bid into the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 1996, the baseball Tigers are back in the 64-team field.

The Tigers, 32-24 overall and 13-17 in the SEC, will play in Tallahassee on Friday as a No. 2 seed and will face South Alabama. FSU, 50-18 overall, is the No. 1 seed and will open play in the double elimination format vs. Army, the 4th seed with a 38-12 record.

The Tigers lost to South Alabama on March 1 at Plainsman Park, falling 3-0. USA ace P.J. Walker, who finished 9-6, went the distance that night and posted a seven-hitter. Auburn started pitcher Josh Blake, a player who is not part of the regular three-man starting rotation. The Tigers also pitched Mike Felix in that game along with front-line relievers Jared Shore, John Madden and Michael Nix.

South Alabama won the Sun Belt tournament with a 9-2 victory over Middle Tennessee State University and will bring a 35-25 record into NCAA play. The Jaguars are hitting .297 as a team and have a team earned run average of 4.73.

David Freese leads the team in hitting with a .364 average. He has six homers and 46 RBI. Josh Morgan is hitting .323 with 14 homers and 48 RBI.

Despite having an identical record to last year's team, the 2005 Tigers have a much higher power rating due to success against a variety of highly ranked teams while playing a challenging non-conference schedule in addition to the normally strong SEC schedule.

The Tigers have played three games at top-seed FSU this season. In the second series of the season, Auburn lost 7-3, 6-5 and won 9-2 vs. the Seminoles. The Tigers and Army did not play this season.

The winner of the Tallahassee regional plays the winner of the Gainesville regional in the super regional. SEC power Florida is the one seed on its home field and the Tigers and Gators are two of nine SEC teams in the 64-team field. That total ties the record for teams from one confereence to receive bids.

Auburn won its series at No. 3 LSU, at home vs. No. 7 Arkansas and against No. 18 Ole Miss. The Tigers also picked up impressive non-conference victories over ranked teams Clemson, Georgia Tech and FSU and Atlantic Sun Conference league champion Troy State.

This will be Auburn's 17th appearance in NCAA postseason play with the first coming in 1963. The Tigers have advanced to the College World Series four times with trips in 1967, 1976, 1994 and 1997.

Auburn's first year head coach Tom Slater has experience in postseason play from his days as an assistant coach at Auburn and Florida with six trips to NCAA play at Auburn and one last season with the Gators.

The NCAA's tournament selection committee announced its 16 regional sites and host teams on Sunday and the remaining 48 teams were announced on Monday.

The Tigers have played 32 games against opponents ranked in the Top 25 this year with 14 victories in those contests.

John Madden

The Tigers are led by All-SEC catcher Josh Bell, All-SEC relief pticher John Madden, second All-SEC outfielder Clete Thomas and good-hitting first baseman Karl Amonite.

(More to come.)

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