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Monday, March 8, 2010

Looking back at the weekend that was at Auburn

It was another jam-packed weekend at Auburn. Let's give a quick rundown:

OK, nothing happened football-wise this weekend, but it's Auburn, so the blog has to start here. Tuesday is pro day. Things start at 2 p.m. ET. RB Ben Tate, DE/OLB Antonio Coleman, CB Walt McFadden, QB Chris Todd, TE/DE Gabe McKenzie and DT Jake Ricks are expected to be there. I can't imagine Tate doing too many of the workouts, especially after what he did last week at the NFL Combine. Those numbers can stand by themselves. However, it will be an important day for Coleman, who needs to bounce back from a sub-par combine performance, and McFadden, who didn't get a combine invite and will be working out in front of many scouts for the first time.
Not a great weekend for Jeff Lebo's squad, as the blog wrote about here. Lebo's job status is certainly the hot topic. And while I'm not sure exactly what Auburn is going to do, it's telling that Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs (pictured, right), who has declined comment on the issue, has not vocalized even a token measure of public support for the coach. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. The Tigers, of course, have to play in the SEC tournament first. And while getting the fifth seed didn't seem all that great, it actually works out as a better draw. Auburn gets Florida in the first round, a tough but not impossible matchup. A win would pit the Tigers against Mississippi State. Had Auburn been the four seed, a win would have gotten it a matchup with top-seeded Kentucky. The Tigers' current road through the tournament isn't easy, but at least it doesn't lead them through a top-five team nationally.
The season is over for Nell Fortner's crew. The Tigers got to the second round of the SEC tournament before losing to second-seeded Kentucky. That left them with a 15-16 overall record, just shy of being at .500 and eligible for the WNIT. Auburn also said it won't accept an invitation to the newly-formed WBI, meaning it's curtains for this year's crew. The final verdict? Not a great season for Auburn, but not a surprising one either, after losing four seniors and a national player of the year candidate from a team that went 30-4 last season. This squad played with six freshmen and sophomores. The only senior was KeKe Carrier. And Alli Smalley appeared ready by the end of the season to be, for lack of a better phrase, The Man. If Smalley can be a go-to player next year and that young group can mature, I don't think it would be a stretch to think Auburn would be back in the thick of things in the SEC.
The Tigers (9-2) are on a roll, sweeping a three-game weekend series against Miami (Ohio) to run their winning streak to five games. Hunter Morris starred Sunday, going 4-for-5 with a home run and two doubles. Auburn also appears to have established its ace. Junior college transfer Cole Nelson (3-0) allowed two runs on seven hits. He struck out eight in seven innings. In 19 1/3 innings this year, he's given up three runs (1.40 ERA). He has 23 strikeouts and five walks. Makes you wonder how long John Pawlowski will continue to trot out Jon Luke Jacobs (0-1, 7.07) and Grant Dayton (1-1, 6.14) on Friday and Saturday nights. At some point, it seems like you have to make that switch. The Tigers have Alabama on Tuesday in the MAX Capital City Classic in Montgomery. They host Appalachian State on Wednesday before traveling to Tempe, Ariz., for a three-game series with No. 12 Arizona State this weekend.
Senior Anna Thompson threw her first collegiate no-hitter Friday in a 1-0 win against Louisiana Tech. She struck out 16 in the win and 25 on the day after getting the nod against Tennessee State in the second game of the doubleheader. The Tigers went on to beat Gardner-Webb and Valparaiso to finish 4-0 in the War Eagle Classic. Auburn (13-6) has one more non-conference tune-up, a Wednesday game at South Alabama, before beginning SEC play Friday at home against Kentucky.
The Tigers, who are No. 3 in the country if you haven't noticed, carded a 6-over-par 294 to win the one-day Auburn Invitational on Sunday. Cydney Clanton and Patricia Sanz led the way with even-par 72s. Haley Wilson, a Central-Phenix City grad, shot a 2-over 74, earning her first top-10 performance this season.

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