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Play ball: Auburn veterans, newcomers join forces
Feb. 12, 2015

Justin Camp says he's ready to close out games for Auburn

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Justin Camp, a sometimes-starter, sometimes-reliever during his Auburn career, is looking to be the Tigers' closer this season.

Why not? A little shakeup is just what baseball coach Sunny Golloway has ordered for this year's Tigers as he blends an experienced returning crew, an array of transfers and new pitching coach Tom Holliday into the fold. The SEC's regular-season batting champ, a freshman All-American pitcher and as many as four transfers could be in the starting lineup when Auburn plays Binghamton in the season-opener at 3 p.m. Friday in Plainsman Park. Auburn is scheduled to play Binghamton at 3 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday as well.

The Tigers were 28-28 last season, and Terrance Dedrick led the Tigers with just four saves. Camp had one, on opening day. Now, he'll get first shot at getting a lot more.

"I have never really pitched on the back end, but it is something that I saw myself succeeding in that role because I have been a max-effort type of guy," Camp says. "It is hard to go a lot of innings when you throw like that. The biggest thing for me is I want the starters to have confidence that when it comes down to the eighth and ninth innings, that they feel comfortable turning the game over to our bullpen. That is why I like being there. Hopefully, these guys can count on me to fill that role."

Camp did most of the work, 6 2/3 innings, when he and three other pitchers combined to one-hit Kennesaw State last season.

That's on the field work. Camp and other players say the team is optimistic heading into the season.

"Nobody is trying to do too much, and no one feels pressured to do something outside of what they are supposed to do," Camp said. "Everybody knows their place and knows what they are expected to do and they go out and do that."

"Everybody," said pitcher Keegan Thompson, "is cheering on everyone else and nobody, if they are playing behind someone, is hoping they are going to mess up so they get more playing time. Everybody is pushing each other to be the best player they can be."

Thompson won freshman All-American honors last season after going 2-3 with a 2.87 ERA. Opponents hit only .192 against him.

The Tigers also return SEC regular-season batting champ Jordan Ebert, who hit .353 last season. The four junior college players who could get an early look are first baseman Kyler Deese, shortstop Cody Nulph, designated hitter Bo Decker and third baseman Alex Polston.

"We are just pushing each other because everybody wants to win," said center fielder Anfernee Grier. "There are no egos on the team. That is really what makes it special this year."

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



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