Coming off a weekend that saw them come out of their shells offensively to win two of three games against the Kentucky Wildcats, the Tigers are hoping to keep the momentum going against the Bulldogs. To do so they'll need a solid performance on the mound and Coach Tommy Slater said that the chances are good that two guys will have to give his team a lot of innings for that to happen.
"You've got be looking at either (Bryan) Woodall or (Clarence) Nicely," Slater said. "We'll make that determination Monday. It will be one or the other. We've just got to see how it all shakes out."
A player that might see an inning or two of work against Samford is reliever Paul Burnside. A freshman that struggled to get off the mark at the beginning of the season, the Montgomery native has quickly become a key pitcher for the Tigers out of the bullpen.
"At the beginning of the season I'm not afraid to admit I was a little nervous," Burnside said. "The coaches have been telling me to be confident in my pitches because I've got good stuff. That's what they've been telling me, throw the ball like I know I can. I've felt a lot better the last few weeks because I'm getting some innings in."
Currently with a perfect ERA in conference play, Burnside has allowed just two hits in six and one/third innings of work against Vanderbilt and Kentucky the last two Sundays. His most recent outing earned him his first career win and gave the Tigers the victory in a rubber game against the Wildcats. He said that everything he does just makes his freshman year more special.
"It was a dream come true," Burnside said. "I always wanted to pitch for Auburn and I'm finally getting the chance. To get my first win against a SEC team is definitely huge. It feels pretty good."
With some confidence for the first time in almost a month, the Tigers get back to play beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday night against the Bulldogs. For a young pitching staff confidence can be a big plus and Burnside said this team feels like it is beginning to turn a corner. If that's the case then it could be a fun month of April for the Tigers.
"We knew coming into this weekend that we needed something to spark the rest of the season," Burnside said. "We definitely got it with our first series win in a while. It felt very good."
Freshman shortstop comes into the Samford game on a five-game hitting streak. During that stretch he is 7-21. Last weekend Bristow and fellow freshmen Mike Bianucci and Luke Greinke combined for 16 hits six RBI in three games against Kentucky.
Auburn enters Tuesday's game with a record of 14-17 overall. The Tigers are looking for their first road win of the season. Samford is 14-15 on the season after winning two of three at Jacksonville State last weekend.