Feb. 16, 2012
The curtain rises on the 2012 Auburn baseball season on Friday at 3pm at Plainsman Park when Auburn plays host to Missouri for a three-game series. The game signifies the beginning of Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski's fourth season at Auburn and the 117th in Auburn baseball history.
"This time of year everyone is anxious and excited to get started," Pawlowski said. "I am anxious to see what the new guys can do and how they are going to turn into the players that we want out there."
Auburn welcomed 17 newcomers into the fold this season and they will be expected to contribute early and often as just two starting position players return from the 2011 team in Creede Simpson and Cullen Wacker. Auburn lost 74 percent of last season's at bats and all but five of the team's home runs from last season.
On the mound Auburn returns 398 2/3 out of 518 innings (77 percent) and is led by 2011 ace Derek Varnadore, who led the team in wins (six), ERA (3.68), strike outs (74) and innings pitched (88) last season. Varnadore gets the opening day nod this year and will be followed in the weekend rotation by Slade Smith, who was 2-2 with a 5.83 ERA in 66 1/3 innings last season, working as both a starter (seven starts) and a reliever (11 relief appearances). Auburn has not determined its Sunday starter yet.
Game times for the rest of the series are 3pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. The first 1,000 fans into Friday's game will receive schedule posters and it is also a Foursquare Friday where fans can check-in at Plainsman Park on Fourquare for the chance to win a prize from Auburn baseball. Fans can also purchase a two-event ticket for the Auburn All In Weekend for $20 that includes the baseball game at 3pm on Saturday and the men's basketball game vs. Mississippi State at 7pm that same day.
Sunday is Family Day and fans can buy three tickets and get one free (advance purchase only) and the game will be followed by a team autograph session.
All three games this weekend will air live on WKKR-FM 97.7 locally as well as on-line at www.auburntigers.com. Sunday's game will have a live video stream on the website as well.
Season tickets are on sale for $170 for a reserved box seat. Fans can also purchase a Pick 6 Package for $40. Single-game tickets are $8.
Follow Auburn baseball on twitter @AUTigerBaseball
FRIDAY, FEB. 17 3PM CT PLAINSMAN PARK MISSOURI AT AUBURN
RHP Eric Anderson (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Derek Varnadore (0-0, 0.00)
SATURDAY, FEB. 18 3PM CT PLAINSMAN PARK MISSOURI AT AUBURN
LHP Rob Zastryzny (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Slade Smith (0-0, 0.00)
SUNDAY, FEB. 18 1PM CT PLAINSMAN PARK MISSOURI AT AUBURN
RHP Jeff Cline (0-0, 0.00) vs. TBA
AUBURN VS. MISSOURI
Auburn is facing Missouri for the first time since the 2010 season and just the second time overall ... Auburn is 0-2 all-time against its futre SEC bretheren ... The last time Missouri came to Auburn was on Feb. 27, 2010, the day that Auburn inducted Bo Jackson, Gregg Olson, Frank Thomas and Tim Hudson into the Wall of Fame.
Slade Smith: Threw two relief innings in 2010, allowing two hits and striking out three of the eight batters he faced.
Creede Simpson: Was 2-for-4 with a walk, a RBI and two runs scored while hitting second in the lineup and playing centerfield ... Only other hitters to face Missouri pitching were Caleb Bowen (1-for-1) and Patrick Savage (0-for-2).
AUBURN ON OPENING DAY
Auburn is opening its 64th season of modern baseball (1949) and its 117th overall (1895) ... Auburn is 47-16 (.746) in season-opening games since 1949.
VARNADORE GETS OPENING DAY NOD
Sr. RHP Derek Varnadore gets the Opening Day starting nod for Auburn ... Varnadore led Auburn in wins (six), ERA (3.68), strike outs (74) and innings pitched (88) in the 2011 season ... He was a 17th-round draft pick of the Florida Marlins in the 2011 MLB Draft but chose to come back to Auburn to finish his degree in building science.
PAWLOWSKI IN YEAR FOUR
Auburn head coach John Pawlowski is beginning his fourth season at Auburn ... In three previous seasons he is 103-75 (.579) ... Overall he is 441-267-1 (.623) in 12 previous seasons at Auburn and the College of Charleston (2000-08) ... He was the third-fastest coach in Auburn history to reach 100 wins at the school, needing 169 games to get there.
Auburn's schedule includes 33 games against teams that played in the 2011 NCAA Regionals ... According to BoydsWorld.com, Auburn's schedule is the 10th toughest in the country, with the only SEC team ahead of it being Florida (No. 5).
WHO'S ON FIRST?
Auburn welcomed 17 newcomers into the program for the 2012 season ... Of the returning starting position players, only two return in Creede Simpson and Cullen Wacker ... In total, Auburn must replace 74 percent of last season's at bats ... On the mound Auburn returns 398 2/3 out of 518 innings (77 percent) from last year.
GUESS WHO'S BACK? JB'S BACK!
Senior Justin Bryant returns after missing the most of the 2011 season due to injury ... Last season he played in just four games, going 2-for-11 (.182) at the plate and amking one appearance on the mound, earning a save in 1 1/3 innings ... In 2010 Auburn was 22-4 when he was in the starting lineup as he hit .323 with 32 RBIs.
WHAT'S ON DECK...
Following the three-game series against Missouri, Auburn will conclude its season-opening five-game homestand with a pair of midweek contests against Alcorn State ... The Tuesday and Wednesday games will be the first between the two programs.