Strategy sesssion with Auburn's Kyler Deese and coach Sunny Golloway
AUBURN, Ala. - Hello, early-season baseball tests. Auburn started them in good fashion when it beat Georgia Tech on Tuesday, will find out more when it plays host to nationally-ranked Oklahoma State as well as Jacksonville State this weekend before finishing off its current eight-day run against Alabama in the Capital City Classic next Tuesday in Montgomery.
"So where are we right now? We're not where we used to be, and we're not where we want to be, but we're getting better," says Auburn coach Sunny Golloway.
Auburn is 7-2, has won five straight and can point to Tuesday's 7-1 quality win over Georgia Tech. Oklahoma State, which was added to the schedule just this week, provides another chance for the Tigers to make a positive statement. The Cowboys are ranked 10th nationally.
Oklahoma State and Western Illinois were teams without a place to play because of bad weather until the Cowboys used their friendly connections with Golloway to secure a series of games in Plainsman Park.
Oklahoma State pitching coach Rob Walton was Golloway's assistant for six years at Oral Roberts and Cowboys' head coach Josh Holliday is the son of Auburn pitching coach Tom Holliday, who was Oklahoma State's head coach from 1997-2003 and where he worked for 26 years on the baseball staff.
Golloway said Walton is "like family for me. His kids and my kids literally grew up together. Rob called and said, 'I need you to do me a favor,' and I said 'yes' before I even knew what it was, because that's our relationship.
"I said we'll work something out. Come on."
This is what they worked out: Auburn will play Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. Friday, play Oklahoma State at 3 p.m. Saturday and then Jacksonville State at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Oklahoma State will play Western Illinois at 7 p.m. Friday, play Auburn at 3 p.m. Saturday and then play Western Illinois 10 a.m. Sunday. Each day's ticket is good for both games.
Auburn's starting pitchers will be Trey Wingenter (0-0, 2.53 ERA) on Friday and Rocky McCord (1-0, 0.00 ERA) on Saturday. Auburn hasn't announced its Sunday starter.
"It's a good weekend of baseball for baseball enthusiasts in our area," Golloway said.
Auburn's game against Alabama A&M was cancelled Thursday because of travel issues, but the Tigers have still been kept busy with a flurry of games.
"It's a pretty good span of games in a short time, but that's good for us. We scheduled by that by design," Golloway said.
He did it to take a look at more players.
"I like that aspect," Golloway said. "It helps unify our team and we already have really good chemistry. It gives more opportunities. It'll be an exciting time for us.
"More games the merrier early in the year."
Auburn plays Alabama at 7 p.m. Tuesday in their annual game in Montgomery. It won't count in the conference standings...but it'll count.
Golloway is hoping he'll find carryover from the Georgia Tech win throughout.
"It was a confidence-builder for us, and we're a program that needs to build confidence," Golloway said. "We hope we'll be at that same level one day. We're working hard to get there."
Overall, he said, "We have come from behind and won games this year. And we have been very methodical about getting control of games and winning. That's two areas we weren't good at last year."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:Follow @AUGoldMine