Luckie And Tigers Looking For Good Start

Auburn pitcher Cory Luckie talks about playing in a regional and being on the mound Friday night for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--For Cory Luckie it has been a year of firsts all over again. A solid starter as a freshman, he was injured late in 2008 and missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery. Coming back after a year off, Luckie is 6-4 with a 5.68 ERA, but has pitched better than his numbers would indicate the last several weeks.

Luckie will have another chance to improve his numbers this week as he'll be on the mound for the 14th-ranked Tigers when they take on Jacksonville State at 6 p.m. Friday at Plainsman Park in the second game of the Auburn Regional as the Tigers open play in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Clemson and Southern Miss will play in the first game at 2 p.m.

Getting the call in the regional, Luckie will have a chance to put his team into good position, but admits that right now he's not really sure what to think about this weekend.

"I guess I can't because I don't know what it feels like," Luckie says. "Everybody is excited. I'm happy for the older guys like Hubs and Hurst and Jenkins. I'm glad to get this in before they get out of here. I don't know if we know what we're supposed to expect. We're just going to treat it like any other weekend.

"Jacksonville State is a really good team," he notes. "As far as RPI goes they are the top team in the nation as far as four seeds go. It's going to be a tough game and we really need to get into that winner's bracket."

Just two weeks ago Auburn faced the Gamecocks at Plainsman park, a game the Tigers came out on top of 9-7. Jumping out to a 4-0 lead, Auburn had to hold on as it took two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn the win. Luckie says while playing a midweek game isn't the same as this weekend, it will give both teams a feel for the other going into Friday night.

"It helps a lot," Luckie says. "A lot of the process that goes into preparing for a team is getting comfortable with them. Us playing them, we know that they have. We got to see their closer and that's a big thing because he's pretty good. I think we're prepared and we'll be a little more comfortable going into this first game."

In addition to playing the Gamecocks just two weeks ago and getting a feel for what they can do both at the plate and on the mound, Auburn has also experienced the postseason for the first time as a team after playing three games in Hoover. Playing away from home in a tournament setting is something Luckie said it beneficial to the team in a number of ways.

"I think it really helps," Luckie says. "We kind of figured out what it takes to win. The teams we played, Ole Miss and South Carolina. South Carolina beat us here and we beat Ole Miss. Then we find out it doesn't matter what you did in the regular season. We beat South Carolina and Ole Miss beats us. It doesn't matter what you do in the regular season, it's how you play in the postseason and how prepared you are."

The top seed in the regional, Auburn (40-19) will face a Jacksonville State team that is 32-24 with second-seed Clemson (38-21) taking on three seed Southern Miss (35-22). Austin Lucas (6-0, 4.97 ERA) will get the start for the Gamecocks against Luckie and the Tigers.

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