April 11, 2014
Auburn's Jordan Ebert meets former Tiger great Bo Jackson (Zach Bland photo)
By Phillip Marshall
Auburn sophomore left fielder Jordan Ebert is excited that his .388 batting average puts him alone at the top among Southeastern Conference hitters. He has made it a goal to stay there. But most of all, Ebert wants to win Auburn's weekend series at No. 10 Alabama.
When Ebert, from Foley, decided to sign with Auburn last year, it sent shock waves through his family and friends.
"My brother is an Alabama grad," Ebert said. "My mom is an Alabama football fan. When I go home, I have so much family that is Alabama. It was a big shock when I came to Auburn. This is big for me. This is the one series of the year I don't want to lose."
And it goes beyond family. Ebert counts Alabama players Mikey White, Georgie Salem and Kyle Overstreet among his close friends.
"I've been playing with those kids my whole life. We are real good friends, but this weekend we kind of have to put that behind us so I can win one and brag over Thanksgiving dinner."
For a long time, Ebert thought he would also play at Alabama. That all changed after he visited Auburn.
"Man, when I came here I knew," Ebert said. "There is a different feeling. The family, the unity, the way people care for each other around here is something special."
Auburn (20-14, 5-7) opens tonight's series against Alabama (22-10, 8-4) at 6:30 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Saturday's game is set for 6 pm. and Sunday's game for 1:30 p.m. Auburn, a 6-0 winner over Troy on Tuesday night, is coming off a sweep on the road at the hands of Ole Miss.
If the Tigers are to turn it around, Ebert will likely play a significant role. His climb to the top of the SEC statistics, he says, started with his grandfather and got a boost from Auburn coach Sunny Golloway.
"My grandfather has been telling me my whole life if I'd hit the ball on the ground and hit line drives I could hit .400 wherever I went," Ebert said. "I never believed him. In high school, I hit around .400, but I hit a lot of popups.
"Coach G told me if I didn't start hitting the ball on the ground I wasn't going to play. The numbers started proving the facts."
Tonight, Ebert will face Alabama ace right-hander Spencer Turnbull (4-1, 1.58 ERA). Right-hander Dillon Ortman (5-2, 2.11) will pitch for the Tigers.
On Saturday, freshman right-hander Keegan Thompson (5-1, 1.71) will pitch against Alabama right-hander Justin Kamplain (2-2, 4.06). On Sunday, in a battle of left-handers, Michael O'Neal (2-3, 3.92) will get the start for Auburn and Jon Keller (5-1, 1.52) for Alabama.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: