Sunny Golloway talks a little baseball with his Tigers on the first day of fall practice.
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Jordan Ebert could have tried his hand in pro ball, being draft eligible and all. Instead, he's returning to Auburn to play the outfield again, this time as the Southeastern Conference top returning hitter.
"I love the university. I feel like I have not given this university what I needed to," he said Tuesday, the first day of fall baseball practice.
"I wanted to come back a winner. I want to get to Omaha."
Making it to the College World Series was Auburn's mantra last year, too, though the Tigers finished with a 28-28 record and missed tournament play. Coach Sunny Golloway will try again this year with a mix of veterans and 22 newcomers that come from a deep pool of 13 junior college transfers, seven high school signees and two transfers.
Ebert hit .353 last season. He'll return looking for more power and to drive in more runs.
"I led off a lot last year, just trying to get on base, hit singles," Ebert said. "I think I'll have a different role this year. But the confidence level, yes.
"I'm working on being a new player... a guy I was more like in high school and summer ball, more free swinging, trying to go gap to gap. Hit some home runs. Drive some guys in, because I think that's what this team is going to need."
Golloway began fall workouts upbeat.
"A lot of our guys went out and played during the summer and had tremendous success," he said.
Golloway said he'll lean on his veterans "for some of the routines we go through with our practice. I think they're excited to get on the yard. They will be a lot of teaching going on, needless to say. But when you look, there's a large percentage of that group that is junior college players. A lot of these guys have a lot of playing experience. They're not coming in as young freshmen that we don't know what to expect from them. They're experienced baseball players."
Golloway said he signed so many junior college players because "we really felt like there were some specific needs we needed to meet. We needed some real talented guys up the middle. We needed to add some depth at those positions, at second and short, and also third."
Also, they'll help in the outfield and with left-handed pitching," Golloway said.
Those junior college players, Golloway said, "come in ready to go."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine