Jan. 26, 2014
Preseason baseball practice began Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park (Phillip Marshall photo)
Includes video action and a video interview with head coach Sunny Golloway.
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Sunny Golloway plans to win, and he doesn't plan to wait. That's not his way. At practice, he is in perpetual motion. No good play goes without praise. No bad one goes without a correction.
Golloway came last June to coach Auburn's baseball team after taking Oklahoma to 14 NCAA regionals, four super regionals and a College World Series in 15 seasons. Sunday afternoon, his first Auburn baseball team officially began preseason practice 19 days before the season begins.
At every turn at Plainsman Park, there is a reminder that the goal is to get to Omaha. It's in big letters in the batting cages and in the bullpen. It's on the backs of practice jerseys. The new meeting room is called the Omaha Room.
After 10 years of wandering in the college baseball wilderness, Auburn isn't getting a lot of attention nationally. The Tigers aren't ranked any of the preseason polls, and Golloway doesn't like it.
"No, it makes me mad," Golloway said. "I'm offended. It's the first time starting a season my team hasn't been in the Top 25. It's disapoointing. We're nowhere to be found. Why? Those guys can play. I can coach a little bit. It's a chip on my shoulder. It's disrespectful."
And he has passed that feeling on to his players.
"You better believe it," Golloway said.
It all starts on Feb. 14 when Auburn opens its season against Indiana State in the first of three games in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. The Tigers play Ohio State on Feb. 15 and Connecticut on Feb. 16.
"The school record is 17-0 to start the season," Golloway said. "That's what we are shooting for. Why shouldn't we? If you don't believe we can do it, there's no way you can do it. If you believe we are going to do it, you still might not do it. But if you don't believe you can do it, it's never going to happen.
"We are looking for a 17-0 start. Then we'll have Texas A&M coming in. We'll beat them two out of three and be off to a 19-1 start and everybody will be standing along that chain link fence poking their nose through. We're trying to sell this place out."
The Tigers' lineup will have a mixture of experience and youth. The senior class, Golloway says, stepped out front beginning with fall practice.
"We have three kids that shouldn't be here, maybe four," Golloway said. "We have a shortstop (Dan Glevenyak), a centerfielder (Ryan Tella) and a catcher (Blake Austin). If they were playing on a good team - say they were at Oklahoma and went to a super regional - they would have gotten drafted because they played for a winner and did some things really well. They would have had to leave.
(Third baseman Damek) Tomscha is the fourth one because of the way he can swing the bat. Right now, he'd be labled as an offensive guy who is questionable defensively. We have to change that."
Most of the starting lineup is all but set, but Golloway says decisions remain to be made on the pitching staff.
Senior left-hander Michael O'Neal will start on Saturdays, but Fridays and Sundays remain uncertain. Right-handers Keegan Thompson and Kevin Davis, both freshmen, are strong candidates. So is sophomore right-hander Justin Camp, along with junior left-hander Daniel Koger. Thompson will also play first base and will, at times, be the designated hitter.
The starters' mission will be to go deep enough to hand the game over to setup man Trey Cochran-Gill and closer Terrance Dedrick.
"If you have a bridge-the-gap guy like Tre Cochran-Gill, you have something really special," Golloway said. "That might be the most important position and player on your team right now, to get us to a guy like Terrance Dedrick. He should leave the nation in saves. I'll just tell you right now. I know. Talk a big game. Have to back it up. This isn't my first rodeo. I have something to compare it to. I had a guy who broke the record at Oklahoma."
Here is the likely lineup:
3B: Sr. Damek Tomscha (54 g, .274, 7 HR, 26 RBI ); SS: Sr. Dan Glevenyak (50 games, .230, 0 HR, 21 RBI); 2B: Fr. Damon Haecker; 1B: Fr. Keegan Thompson or Fr. Daniel Robert or Sr. Patrick Savage (47 g, .290, 0 HR, 19 RBI); C Sr. Blake Austin (51 g, .290, 3 HR, 23 RBI); LF So. Jordan Ebert (54 g, .303, 4 HR, 23 RBI); CF Sr. Ryan Tella (56 g, .259, 3 HR, 37 RBI); RF Fr. Anfernee Greer.
Here are the top returning pitchers:
So. Justin Camp (40 IP, 5 wins, 1 loss, 2 saves, 2.44 ERA); Sr. Michael O'Neal (89 IP, 8 wins, 4 losses, 2.73 ERA); Jr. Trey Cochran-Gill (41.2 IP, 1 win, 1 loss, 2 saves,. 3.02 ERA); Sr. Terrance Dedrick (39. 2 IP, 4 wins, 2 losses, 10 saves, 3.62 ERA); Jr. Daniel Koger (46.2 IP, 0 wins, 3 losses, 5.01 ERA).
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: