Morris Back On Track As Tigers Face Big Week

Auburn (9-2) will face Alabama, Appalachian State and Arizona State in the final week before SEC play begins.

Auburn, Ala.--Entering last weekend's series against Miami (OH), Auburn first baseman Hunter Morris wasn't having a bad start to the season, but it wasn't good enough for him. Hitting .351 in eight games, the junior had yet to hit a home run and had just seven RBI.

Things went from not so good to worse for Morris on Friday night as he was just 1-6 while his teammates pounded out 22 hits in a 14-9 win over the visiting RedHawks. Deciding to keep it simple, Morris relaxed and played baseball the final two games of the series.

The results were 8-9 at the plate, two home runs, and four RBI. Coach John Pawlowski says it was good to see Morris come alive as the Tigers earned the series sweep.

"I talked to him the other day and told him that he can't press," Pawlowski says. "He just had to go up there and start reacting to the ball instead of thinking through it. He had too much going on.

"He's worked so hard," the coach says. "It was great to see him come out of it. He's certainly capable of doing that. If we can get Hunter and Fletch (Brian Fletcher) in the middle of the lineup swinging it like that during SEC play it bodes well for our offense."

With Morris back on track and Fletcher on fire to start the year with a .467 batting average, six home runs, and 24 RBI, Auburn's offense has a strong punch in the middle of the order. It's not just a two-man show for the Tigers though as the team is hitting .373 with Tony Caldwell and Creede Simpson both over .400 as well. Morris said that's the strength of this team is the depth at the plate.

"It's huge," Morris says. "We've got a lot of guys top to bottom. Like I said before the season, there are no holes in our lineup. You don't put up 53 hits on a weekend when you have outs coming from here and there. It's a solid nine guys in the lineup and we have guys on the bench doing a solid job for us in whatever role they are in. We're carrying some momentum."

Morris and the Tigers look to keep the momentum going this week as they take on Alabama Tuesday night in the Max Capital City Classic at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery and play Appalachian State Wednesday night at Plainsman Park before traveling to Arizona State for a three-game series this weekend.

"We play a tough Alabama team on Tuesday," Morris says. "Obviously, it's not detrimental to our conference record, but we're going out there to win. We're looking forward to that and Arizona State this weekend.

"We've got Appalachian State during the week, too. It's a great opportunity for our offense to keep rolling and face some good competition coming up before we get into conference play."

Still looking to find the guy to strengthen the weekend pitching rotation, sophomore Corey Luckie (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will get the start for the Tigers on Tuesday night and it could be another opportunity for him to show he belongs in the pitching lineup for weekend games. Pawlowski says somewhere along the line The Tigers would like to move the Prattville native to the weekend, but right now his job is to pitch well in what should be a fun and exciting environment on Tuesday.

"I think it's great," Pawlowski says of his team's next game. "I think anytime you get Auburn and Alabama together, it doesn't matter what sport, it makes an intriguing matchup. Last year the stadium was absolutely packed. It was a great ball game. We were very fortunate to come out with a win.

"I know our kids are excited about it and looking forward to it. If you want to be the best and compete at a high level you've got to play good teams. Alabama is certainly one of the top teams. We'll have our hands full."

Alabama is 8-1 and brings the second-best team ERA in the conference to the table with a 2.86 mark, allowing a league-low 26 runs, and holding opponents to a .237 batting average. Alabama will throw freshman left-hander Taylor Wolfe (1-0, 4.50 ERA) against the Tigers. The first pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST with pre-game festivities beginning at 6:30.


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