Jan. 31, 2009
With the start of the 2009 baseball season less than 24 hours away, the Auburn baseball team and its support staff were the guests of honor at the eighth annual Auburn Diamond Club Team Recognition Banquet at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center on Saturday evening. During the banquet, Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski announced that seniors Paul Burnside and Ryan Jenkins and sophomore Kevin Patterson would serve as team captains for the upcoming season.
"All three of these student-athletes exemplify what our program is all about both on and off the field. As we continue to move the program forward in 2009, it is important that we have leadership and direction within our team," Pawlowski said. "Ryan Jenkins, Paul Burnside and Kevin Patterson, as chosen by their teammates, will represent our program in a first-class manner."
"To be voted a team captain along with Paul and Kevin by our teammates is a really big honor," Jenkins said. "It means a lot to me, being a senior. I hope I can help some of the young guys in a positive direction and leave them with something that can help them in their careers and help Auburn baseball both this year and in the years to come."
After an introduction by Auburn Diamond Club President Mary Lou Matthews, Coach Pawlowski addressed the largest crowd in banquet history, telling everyone how appreciative he was to be the head coach at Auburn and to be working with such quality young men.
After dinner Pawlowski, who shared the good news that his daughter, Mary Louise, has been taken out of ICU after 32 days, had the entire team introduce themselves before recognizing the rest of the coaching staff as well as the team's support staff.
A speech by Brett Butler, a 17-year major league veteran and an All-American at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, was the highlight of the evening. During his speech he spoke of being drafted in the 23rd round by the Atlanta Braves, reaching the majors and getting traded, though the most poignant part of his speech may have been when he talked about overcoming cancer.
The team will hold its first spring practice on Sunday afternoon with a 12:30pm scrimmage that is open to the public.
"We need to go to the SEC Tournament," Jenkins said of the team's goals for this season. "Beyond that, playing in a Regional and ultimately playing in the College World Series are the goals that we have for this program."
Auburn opens the season on Feb. 20 at 3pm when it plays host to Elon in the first game of a three-game series.