Juco Slugger Excited Be A Tiger

One of the top junior college hitters in the country talks about signing with Auburn.

Phenix City, Ala.--Auburn's 2010 season has been one of record-setting proportion as the Tigers have already set the school record for home runs and are well on the way to finishing as one of the top offenses in school history overall.

Much of the reason for that production this year will likely be gone following the season though as senior Ryan Jenkins as well as juniors Hunter Morris, Brian Fletcher, Trent Mummey and Kevin Patterson have combined for two-thirds of those long balls for the Tigers and could all be playing professional baseball after this season.

Because of that the Tigers are looking for some power out of the incoming recruiting class and that's exactly what Gulf Coast Community College outfielder and Auburn signee Bryce Lane delivers. The Panhandle Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore, Lane had one of the best seasons of anyone in the country on any level.

In 50 games the 5-11 175 Lane hit .426 with 24 home runs, 83 RBI and 78 hits. Combine that with an ERA of just 1.039 in 17 innings on the mound and you have a dangerous weapon for a college baseball coach to employ. That coach is going to be John Pawlowski and Auburn, a program that Lane said he grew up following just down the road.

"I'm a hometown kid," Lane tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I live 30 minutes away in Phenix City. I grew up an Auburn fan. I just like the atmosphere. It's a lot of fun. I can't wait. I want to win an SEC Championship.

"I had a few other offers like Southern Miss and I heard from Alabama and a few other schools," he adds. "I didn't get much interest though because I didn't put up most of my numbers until conference play. I just went ahead and jumped on the offer because I was an Auburn fan. Nobody else really had a chance."

In addition to growing up an Auburn fan, Lane also had the luxury of choosing to play school with a current teammate on the next level as he'll join pitcher Andrew Morris with the Tigers next season. The conference pitcher of the year after winning 12 games, the Prattville native should help out immediately on the mound for the Tigers.

"He's a competitor," Lane says of Morris. "I see him stepping in and being a Friday night guy. He's not going to take over (Cory) Luckie's job because he's done good this year, but I see him in the rotation and getting guys out and helping us win."

Lane was in Auburn last weekend to take watch the series against Tennessee as the Tigers pounded out 27 runs over the final two games to earn their fourth series win in a row. Watching the offense intently, Lane says it's exciting to see what they're doing knowing he'll be a part of things next season.

"It was the first series I've been to in the conference," he notes. "I enjoyed it. I definitely like what I see. It should be fun. I'm looking forward to playing at Auburn. I see myself stepping in and being a big part of the Auburn Tigers. Even though I had a big year this year it doesn't guarantee a spot. I've got to come in and prove myself. I think I have that ability."

Lane was a first team All-Conference selection as a freshman when he hit .352 with seven home runs and 47 RBI and also went 5-2 on the mound. While playing for Tony Rasmus at Russell County High School, he was an All-State selection after hitting .421 and leading the state of Alabama with 78 hits as a senior. He says the recent power surge has been news to him, but he feels like his development and playing in a program like Russell County has helped him tremendously in his development as a player.

"I haven't always hit with power," Lane says. "I see myself being a good hitter, but never saw myself with power like that. It really surprised me. I see myself keeping that role now.

"Coach Rasmus, if I didn't have him as a coach growing up I wouldn't be where I am today," he says. "I credit a lot of my ability to him. He taught me the game in all aspects, pitching and hitting and outfield. That program is the best in the nation to me."

With his huge numbers this season the only concern for Auburn now is if and when Lane will be drafted in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft next month. That's something that he says he'll consider when the time comes, but right now he's focused on being a Tiger.

"Of course I think about it because it's my dream to play professional baseball," Lane says. "They would have to give me a fair amount to play pro ball, sink enough money in me to make me an investment."


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