Sunny Golloway forecasts good year for Auburn baseball
Feb. 11, 2015

SunnyGolloway
Sunny Golloway is optimistic heading into Auburn's season

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Coach Sunny Golloway says he's checking his gauges and the forecast looks good for his Auburn baseball team this season.

"I have some really good barometers in my life," he says, "and my wife said, 'you've come home all fall and now all spring and it just seems like everything has been so positive.' We discussed it: 'Was it because everything last year was such a challenge, or is this just a really good group?' I said it's probably a combination."

Sunny Golloway is optimistic that Auburn can better last year's 28-28 record, based on his success at other programs, based on the fact he has returning starters, based on the fact an influx of junior college players, some with Division I experience, can put the Tigers on a more consistent track.

Golloway is also looking at new pitching coach Tom Holliday, and feeling good.

"Coach Holliday is a very good barometer and tremendous man of baseball knowledge and he thinks we have some really good athletes," Golloway said.

"I liked the way we worked in the fall, I like the team chemistry and I really like us on the mound."

Auburn opens the season Friday at home against Binghamton, and will play 16 of its first 18 games in Plainsman Park before embarking on its SEC schedule at Texas A&M on March 13.

Golloway says last season was a tough transition, but things are looking brighter.

"I probably couldn't do an eloquent enough job describing the degree of difficulty" last year, he said. 

But, along the way to his 709-365-1 career record and NCAA regional appearances, there were tough seasons in the early years at Oklahoma and Oral Roberts, too. 

"But now I'm really excited to get started and put that in the rearview mirror and learn from it," he said.


Now, on the eve of the season, Golloway is looking ahead.

"Our attitude has been great this year. I could not be more proud of where they are at. It is a really special group of young men," he said. 

Golloway says the hiring Holliday will make a difference, and that "any pitching coach is going to smile really big" with pitchers Keegan Thompson, Cole Lipscomb, Trey Wingenter, Justin Camp, Rocky McCord, Robby Clements, and Jacob Millman. "The list goes on. I'm excited about the depth."

Auburn returns a mix of starters: outfielder Anfernee Grier, infielder Damon Haecker, catcher Blake Logan and infielder/outfielder Jordan Ebert, whose .353 batting average was second-best in the Southeastern Conference last season.

And then there is the influx of players with junior college and/or Division I experience.

"It's going to pay off in a big way, especially in key positions," Golloway said.

There's Cody Nulph "a young man who started just about every game at Pepperdine as a freshman. He's played Division I baseball at a high level." And infielder Alex Polston "who was recruited out of high school by Oklahoma State, chose to go to junior college to test the draft, got drafted and has now chosen to come here. There's an awful lot of experience there and talent."

There's outfielder Bo Decker "who started at Central Florida and has had a lot of at-bats at the Division I level, then went to junior college and has really developed. He's a guy who gives you power at the plate, can play first base, can play left field. He gives us a lot of depth."

Kyler Deese "was here as a freshman and left last year. The first time I saw him play, I said, 'Oh, my goodness. Why is not with us still?' He had made that decision before they hired a coach here. I know he could have helped us last year. We got him committed right away. He's a guy who talks baseball, works hard, a great teammate. He can catch, he play third, short or second. He's a tremendous value."

"Those kinds of guys who have played Division I baseball and went to junior college and are back, they already know what to expect. Then you add the junior college players like Melvin Gray, who can play second base and is electric running the bases; Ricky Negron, is a power bat third baseman; Ben Craft behind the plate who had to sit out next year. He was on scholarship at UAB as a quarterback. That tells you about his athleticism. Those guys are going to be very important to us."

New pitchers Will Thompson, Dalton Rentz and Izaac Yarbrough are coming in with experience, too.

"There are quite a few of them, and that was by design, because there's maturity."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

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