Going 22-7 the last 29 games of the season, Auburn had a strong second-half finish in SEC play to put itself in a very good position to host an NCAA Regional next weekend at Plainsman Park with RPI's of 12 in Warren Nolan and 14 in Boyds World. Going 8-7 the first half, the Tigers responded with a 12-3 record in the second half to take control in the division.
The 20 SEC wins are the most in school history for an Auburn team in the regular season and was enough for the first division title since 1995. They also guaranteed the number two seed in the SEC Tournament in Auburn's first appearance since the 2003 season.
Facing Alabama in the opener makes for a very interesting match up as the two split the four games play this season with the Crimson Tide winning two of three in the series in Tuscaloosa and Auburn winning in Montgomery. The two have faced each other seven times in SEC Tournament play with Alabama holding a 4-3 advantage.
"They have been playing very, very well," Auburn coach John Pawlowski said. "You look at their club and they earned their way into the tournament. It's going to be exciting. At 9:30 in the morning I encourage the Tiger fans to get out there and support us. They'll have to go to bed early Tuesday night and get out to the stadium early on Wednesday to support us."
Auburn's history in Hoover started off great, but has since come up dry for the most part. In 1998 the Tigers defeated Alabama twice and won 7-5 over Arkansas for the title, Auburn's last in the SEC Tournament. Auburn won its first two games in 1999 before dropping the next two. The next three years were all three and out situations for the Tigers before winning two against Vanderbilt and South Carolina and losing twice to Alabama in 2003. Overall Auburn is 8-13 in SEC Tournament games in Hoover.
While Auburn is one of the hottest teams in the country, Alabama came on strong late in the year to leap into the SEC Tournament as the number seven seed. Winning five of six in SEC play the last two weekends, including a sweep at Tennessee, the Crimson Tide will be a formidable opening opponent for the Tigers.
Offensive Player of the Week:
There are a lot of very good candidates this week, but the award is shared between junior center fielder Trent Mummey and sophomore third baseman Dan Gamache. For the week Mummey was 9-18 with two home runs and seven RBI in four games, including a 7-16 weekend at Ole Miss with six RBI. Gamache was 7-14 for the week with a pair of homers and six RBI. For the season the Rhode Island native leads Auburn with a .404 batting average.
Pitcher of the Week:
The honor goes to the entire Auburn bullpen for its performance in the series sweep of Ole Miss. In 12 2/3 innings of relief, the Tigers allowed just nine hits and no runs. Putting the capper on the performance was 11 strikeouts and just one walk.
SEC Tournament Schedule:
Game 1--9:30 a.m No. 7 Alabama vs. No. 2 Auburn (SPSO)
Game 2--TBD No. 6 Ole Miss vs. No. 3 South Carolina (SPSO)
Game 4--TBD No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Arkansas (CSS)
Game 5--9:30 a.m. Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 (CSS)
Game 6--TBD Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 (CSS)
Game 7--4:30 p.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (CSS)
Game 8--TBD Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 (CSS)
Game 9--3 p.m. Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 7 (SPSO)
Game 10--TBDWinner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 8 (SPSO)
Game 11--9:30 a.m. Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9 (SPSO)
Game 12--TBD Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 10 (SPSO)
Game 13*--5 p.m. Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11 (CSS)
Game 14*--TBD Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 (CSS)
Game 15*--1 p.m. Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14 (ESPN2)
*If both bracket winners are undefeated, there will be no games 13 or 14 on Saturday and the championship game Sunday would be Game 13.
*If games 13 or 14 are necessary, they will be 7-inning games.
(SPSO)--Includes SportSouth, Sun Sports, FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports South in Kentucky
(CSS)--Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast
All games available in High Definition
All games will be streamed live on ESPN3.com (Formerly ESPN360)
All games each day will begin 30 minutes following the previous game, but no earlier than the designated start time.