Baseball Tigers Face Challenging 2011 Slate

Auburn, Ala.--On Thursday the Auburn Tigers released the 2011 baseball schedule and the defending SEC Western Division champions have a tough road ahead as they will play 26 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season.

Having to replace the departed SEC Player of the Year Hunter Morris as well as key components such as Trent Mummey, Brian Fletcher, Ryan Jenkins and Austin Hubbard, Auburn will face a challenging schedule as it defends the 2010 title.

Things get started with a bang at Plainsman Park this season as the Auburn Tigers open on Feb. 18 against Arkansas State with a match-up the following day against ACC powerhouse Virginia.

Those games are part of the Auburn Tournament to kick off the season which also features the UAB Blazers. Auburn will also play a pre-conference tournament at the College of Charleston March 4-6 with participants including the host Cougars and Western Kentucky coached by former Auburn assistant Chris Finwood.

Those games set the stage for the series March 11-13 against College World Series participant Arizona State at Plainsman Park. The series is in its fourth installment with the Sun Devils making their second trip to Plainsman Park. Auburn coach John Pawlowski said the pre-conference schedule only serves to get things started for what should be a difficult conference slate for the Tigers.

"The 2011 schedule presents a great challenge to this young team as we prepare for another quest to make the SEC Tournament and post-season play," Pawlowski said. "We host a tough preseason tournament and we have a return trip from Arizona State which should pose big challenges for the 17 new faces on our team as we head into the rigors of the SEC schedule."

The conference schedule begins March 18 as the Arkansas Razorbacks travel to Auburn to kick things off. Of the five teams playing at Auburn this season four played in the NCAA Regionals last season in Arkansas, Vanderbilt (April 1-3), Ole Miss (April 22-24) and Alabama (May 13-15). The other home conference series is against Georgia scheduled for May 6-8.

Auburn's road schedule in the league is a tough one as the Tigers travel to Mississippi State (March 25-27), at Kentucky (April 8-10), at LSU (April 15-17), at defending National Champion South Carolina (April 29-May 1) and at Tennessee (May 19-21) in conference play.

Midweek home-and-homes are scheduled with Jacksonville State (Feb. 22 and Mar. 22), Troy (Mar. 29 and Apr. 5), South Alabama (Apr. 20 and May 17) and Samford (Apr. 26 and May 10), with the first game of each series being played at Plainsman Park and the second on the road.

Auburn will also be looking for win number three in the Capital City Classic at Montgomery's Riverwalk Stadium when the Tigers take on Alabama March 15. Auburn has won each of the first two meetings in the series.

The 2011 SEC Tournament returns to Hoover May 25-29 and NCAA Regionals begin on June 2.

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