Baseball Tigers Now Forced To Sit And Wait

Auburn hopes to make an NCAA Regional for the sixth-straight season as the Tigers await Monday's announcement.

Hoover, Ala.--A season full of more ups and downs than a roller coaster is now on hold for the Auburn baseball Tigers as they now must sit and wait for Monday's NCAA Regional announcements after dropping two games in the SEC Tournament. With an overall record of 34-24, Coach Steve Renfroe said in his opinion there is no debate on whether his team deserves a bid.

"We finished fifth in the SEC with a 22 RPI and our strength of schedule will be one of the top five or six in the nation probably," Renfroe said. "We've shown we will play anybody anywhere, we didn't pad a schedule and the people below us, their RPI's aren't close. You have to tell me why we wouldn't be in. Playing in the best league in the country for 10 or 12 years. You play 30 games in a year not to undo that in the tournament."

It's not like the Tigers haven't been in this situation recently. Just last season they lost two-straight games in Hoover after finishing the season as the eighth-place team with a record of 15-15 in conference play. That was still good enough to earn a number two seed at the Florida State Regional in Tallahassee. The only difference between last year and this season is in the overall record. Last year's team was 35-19 as they went into conference play, a very solid 16 games over the .500 mark. That could be the difference this year, but one Auburn player said he thinks this team will live to play again.

"I'm not nervous," senior catcher Trent Pratt said. "I was at Arizona State my freshman year where we were in a position where we had a lot of wins and got left out. So I've been in a position where I thought we should have made it and didn't. Whenever you leave it up to someone else you always wonder. I think we're good enough to be in there and I don't know why we would be left out. I think this team is good enough to play and I'm not worried about it."

Trent Pratt stands at second after hitting a double against Arkansas Thursday in Auburn's 8-5 loss.

It's a safe bet to assume that the SEC has four tickets already punched for the regionals with SEC Champion South Carolina, SEC Tournament winner Alabama, LSU and Florida all in position to begin play next week. The question remains just how many teams get invitations from the SEC. Last season all eight teams that played in Hoover received bids to a regional, but that won't happen this season. Both Arkansas and Mississippi State had losing records in the league while Georgia finished at 15-15, the same as Auburn. Just like Auburn, Georgia lost two games and went home from Hoover but the Bulldogs now stand at just 30-27 overall with one win over a Division II team. That's probably not good enough to keep them playing.

Expect to see no more than six SEC teams get the call on Monday with Auburn among the group called. Until then the team will get back on the practice field to prepare whether it happens or not.

"We know we have to go back and word hard," Pratt said. "Wherever we're sent, whatever seed we are we still have to play everybody. It's not something we're worrying about. We have to go back and get back to work and wherever we get sent we're just going to go out there and play hard."


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