Big Lefty Looking For Strong Start For Tigers

Junior college pitcher Cole Nelson will be on the mound as a starter this weekend for the Auburn Tigers as they open the 2010 season against Southeast Missouri State at home.

Auburn, Ala.--There is no question that coach John Pawlowski was looking for immediate pitching help with this year's incoming class of players and one of the guys who will have a chance to show his stuff right away is junior college left-hander Cole Nelson.

A transfer from Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, the 6-7, 250 Nelson is an imposing presence on the mount for the Tigers. Showing a lot of potential in the fall and early in 2010, Nelson will be the starting pitcher on Sunday as the Tigers take on Southeast Missouri at Plainsman Park in game three of their season-opening baseball series.

"It's really exciting to be in the SEC and starting at home," Nelson tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "Coming from a small junior college to pretty much the big time as far as college baseball is concerned, I'm excited to get things going."

Mostly a closer as a sophomore in junior college, Nelson was 4-2 with a 3.19 ERA. He had eight saves and struck out 62 on the way to receiving Second Team All-Conference honors. As a starter his freshman season he was 5-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 10 appearances. He says he's looking forward to getting back into the starting role once again.

"Last year is the only year I've been a closer," Nelson says. "I was a starter all through high school and my freshman year of junior college. It's different going back to being a starter and not having to throw every day and being able to get into more of a routine. That's what I really like. I prefer starting so it's kind of nice."

It's going to be a different world for Nelson and Auburn's newcomers this weekend when they take the field against a Division I opponent for the first time. While he admits that is the truth, he notes that facing Auburn's hitters since last fall has him prepared for what he will see.

"It's pretty nice to be in this position," Nelson says. "I have felt good and competitive. It is a good offense that I have faced in practice so I feel like going into the season I have faced some of the best hitters in the country. It's a good test for me.

"It has been really nice because otherwise I would have no way of preparing," he adds. "From what I have been told we have got some of the best hitters in the conference. It's kind of nice having a little bit of a gauge to know what I'm going to be up against."

Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 45th round this past year, Nelson is hoping to improve his stock this season as a starter for the Tigers. That begins on Sunday for him, a day that he says he's looking forward to getting behind him so he can get into the season and comfortable in his new home and role in Auburn.

"Just getting out there for me will be the most nerve-wracking part," Nelson says. "It's such a new experience and a whole new place and a whole new region being from Minnesota. Once I do it one time I'll be okay. Just getting out there the first time will be the most nervous part."

Auburn will face SEMO on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the first two games at 3 p.m. CST and Sunday's game set for 1 p.m.

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