It's a safe bet to assume not many players sitting in the locker room Monday at around 11:45 a.m. were prepared to see their name pop up in the Tuscaloosa regional featuring rival Alabama as the host. But that's just what happened, catching most in attendance by surprise.
Sure everyone had heard the talk that the NCAA Selection Committee was prepared to bracket teams from the same conference in a regional to avoid as much travel as possible. However, who really thought they would pair up rivals Auburn and Alabama right off the bat? Obviously, not the Auburn players.
"I was a little shocked I guess," catcher Trent Pratt said following the selection show. "I don't think anyone really expected us to go there, but we're excited about it. It's a great place to play. There will be a lot of fans and it will be loud. You couldn't ask for anything more."
The team watches television as Auburn's name is called to play Florida Atlantic in Tuscaloosa on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Pratt's battery mate for Friday's opener against Florida Atlantic, Levale Speigner, said that this is a great opportunity for his team to continue the season. Taking on a tough Owl team that had a 27-game winning streak during the season, the Tigers will have to play well to advance to day two in the winner's bracket.
"We're happy to be in," junior Speigner said. "It's a good regional. I think FAU is going to be a tough team so we have to be focused and ready to go...I'm just going to have to go in and get a feel for them the first time through the order and then work off that. Basically, I'll just go in there and try to use my stuff."
While most players were confident that the Tigers were in the tournament, there was still some concern from a few because of their lack of a strong finish. After losing four of their final five games, first baseman Scott Schade said that made for a long week.
"There was a little doubt because you never know," Schade said. "We left it up to the committee to decide, which is always tough. But we got in and we're excited to play...I was kind of excited to see we're playing in Tuscaloosa. They're a good team and it's a fun place to play, but we have to worry about Florida Atlantic first. We have to go in and play baseball, play our game and stay focused on that. We can't let the other factors get into it."
After trips to some of the toughest places to play in the country this season, this Auburn team has experienced just about everything a club can go through. That should help the team immensely this weekend as crowds of more than 5,000 are expected and the majority of fans will be cheering for whoever Auburn is playing. Third baseman Jonathan Schuerholz said that is fine with him because he is just happy to still be playing and living for the dream of playing in Omaha.
"It's always a relief when you see your name posted on those brackets," Schuerholz said. "We're just looking forward to going up there...experience is a big thing and we've been there. That's going to be a big help. Knowing that we've been to Clemson and played number one there and went to South Alabama and played down there. Going on the road and playing tough quality opponents is a big help in going up to Tuscaloosa for the regional."