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'A very confident approach' - AU baseball ready for LSU
April 1, 2016

<em>Auburn beat Alabama, 10-1 on Tuesday in Montgomery</em>
Auburn beat Alabama, 10-1 in Montgomery on Tuesday

By Jeff Shearer

The way Auburn has been hitting lately, coach Butch Thompson believes his team can generate runs no matter who's on the mound for the opponent.

"I want our offense to keep building confidence, that whoever rolls in here, that we can have success at Plainsman Park," Thompson said.

Auburn's .326 batting average ranks ninth in the country. The Tigers have tallied at least nine hits in 12 straight games, including 15 in Tuesday's 10-1 win over Alabama.

"We're just trying to get our game better and get on a roll. I think when you play a game like Tuesday, you feel like your team can," he said. "We've just to keep chipping away at it."

Auburn hosts No. 14 LSU this weekend, with both teams seeking their first SEC series win.

"The mystique of LSU," Thompson said. "I think Auburn fans know when LSU's coming to town, you know what you're up against."

The Bengal Tigers will pitch Alex Lange, Jared Poche and John Valek III. Auburn will counter with Justin Camp and Cole Lipscomb. Thompson has yet to announce a starting pitcher for Sunday's game 3.

In Thompson's 15 seasons in the Southeastern Conference, the 2016 Tigers match up offensively with any lineup he recalls.

"Arguably for me, the teams I've been a part of, been an assistant coach for, this has a chance to be the best one," Thompson said. "Making that statement, or throwing it out there 25 games in, halfway through the season. The capabilities, the potential from the top to the bottom. It's as impressive as any team I've been a part of."

Auburn's first four hitters: Anfernee Grier, Joshua Palacios, Jordan Ebert and Niko Buentello provide much of the productivity.

Catcher Blake Logan is doing his part to turn the Fantastic Four into the Fab Five.

<em>Blake Logan's 3-run HR helped him earn MVP honors</em>
Blake Logan's 3-run HR helped him earn MVP honors

Logan earned MVP honors in Tuesday's Max Capital City Classic, hitting a 3-run homer, his first since 2014. Thompson called Logan "a huge trigger."

"Sometimes you get to the fifth or sixth hitter, you've got nothing left after those first four have batted," Thompson said. "When you get production out of that fifth or sixth hitter, it makes all the difference.

"When Blake Logan is getting two or three hits, or an extra-base hit as part of his night, that's when our offense probably performs the best," Thompson said.

<em>Anfernee Grier leads the SEC with 7 HRs & .434 batting average</em>
Anfernee Grier leads the SEC with 7 HRs & .434 batting average
Grier continued his sensational season with three more hits against Alabama, raising his SEC-leading average to .434.

He also launched his SEC-best seventh homerun, a 440-foot blast off the scoreboard at Riverwalk Stadium.

"I think he's just practicing hard every day," Thompson said. "Just a very mature, solid, efficient player right now."

Auburn averaged nine runs against Texas A&M in the Tigers' first home SEC series. Thompson wants his hitters to remember that slugging success, especially against an opponent that's won six national championships in the past quarter-century.

"With all of the respect in the world for LSU's pitchers, for their coaching staff, we have to be prepared and know that we can play offense," he said. "It just wouldn't make sense to not have confidence with our offense this weekend, after Texas A&M, one of the best pitching staffs in America rolls in here and gives up a bunch against us. So we'll go with a very confident approach. We'll respect our opponent, but be ready to come out in the first inning just like we did on Tuesday."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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