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May 28, 2012

AU misses NCAA Tournament


Auburn's up-and-down 2012 baseball season came to a conclusion on Monday, as the Tigers failed to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Auburn finished 31-28 overall on the season after going 13-17 in SEC play during the season.

Auburn went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament, falling to Florida, who earned the No. 1 national seed, beating Georgia, and falling to South Carolina, the No. 8 national seed.

It's the second straight year and sixth season out of the last seven that Auburn has missed the NCAA Tournament. Last season, Auburn lost six of their last seven games to finish 29-29 overall and miss the NCAA Tournament.

The last time Auburn made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances was 2002-2003. The last time Auburn won a regional was 1999.

Auburn had positives to point to this season. They took series from Ole Miss (NCAA Tournament team), LSU (No. 7 national seed), Miss. State (SEC Tournament Champion), and Arkansas (NCAA Tournament team). Their record against the NCAA Tournament field was 13-18.

John Pawlowski's team finished with an RPI of 56 and a strength of schedule of 28.

Auburn struggled early in the season. They lost a home series to Missouri (NCAA Tournament team), and lost single home games to Purdue (NCAA Tournament team) and Southern Miss. Auburn also lost two of three at Arizona (NCAA Tournament team).

Auburn found their groove as SEC play started. The Tigers went 6-3 in their first three conference series, taking series from Ole Miss, LSU and Miss. State. Auburn was tied-2nd in the league at that point. But a mid-season road sweep at Alabama seemed to send the Tigers reeling. AU lost a road series to Vanderbilt and were then swept by South Carolina. A 1-8 mid-season stretch in the SEC was complete.

The last four SEC series saw Auburn sweep Tennessee, get swept at Georgia, take two of three at Arkansas, and lose a home series to Florida. The inconsistencies of this team were glaring, and ultimately, it's what held Auburn out of postseason play.

Offensively, Auburn was arguably the SEC's best hitting team across the board. They finished the season leading the SEC in hitting (.304 average), hits (610), on-base-percentage (.386), stolen bases (113), and triples (19), second in doubles (113) and walks (232), third in total bases (866), runs scored (351), slugging percentage (.432), and fourth in RBI (311).

However, AU finished ninth in the SEC in ERA (3.92), last in fielding percentage (.964), last in errors (84), 10th in runs allowed (276) and ninth in earned runs allowed (227). In fact, the difference in Auburn's runs and earned runs allowed was 49, worst in the league.

Auburn is 134-103 overall and 58-62 in SEC play under Pawlowski in four years.

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