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Hard work pays off for Ward

AUBURN | Judd Ward was determined to play this season and the true freshman’s perseverance is finally paying off.

Ward has started the last five games in left field and helped No. 21 Auburn to a series win over Mississippi State last weekend with a double and RBI triple in a 7-5 comeback win on Sunday. His .275 average is second on the team in the last five games.

“It’s been his work ethic,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “I would say if we kept a log of players that come knock on a door to go hit in a batting cage, he’s logged the most hours. He bugs Coach (Gabe) Gross to death. And he’s rewarded for that hard work and he’s got the opportunity. It’s kind of neat to see.”

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Ward has been swinging a hot bat for the Tigers.
Dakota Sumpter/Auburn athletics

There was a possibility Ward would redshirt this season. After not playing in Auburn’s opening series, Thompson met with Ward to discuss his future. Ward made it clear he would do whatever it took to play this spring.

“I feel like it helped me work a lot harder, just stay in the cage,” said Ward of that February meeting. “I knew I would get the opportunity. I just had to wait on it, be patient.”

TEAM NOTES

** Auburn (25-12, 6-9 SEC) hosts UAB (16-18, 8-7 C-USA) Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT on SECN+ and WatchESPN. Senior right-hander Calvin Coker (3-1, 3.57 ERA) is scheduled to face senior right-hander Isaiah Gonzales-Montoya (2-0, 3.18). This will be the first start for Coker in 50 career appearances.

** Trailing 8-3 in the seventh inning vs. UAB in Birmingham on Mar. 6, Auburn scored eight unanswered runs behind a pair of three-run home runs from Josh Anthony and Brett Wright to defeat the Blazers 11-8. The five-run come-from-behind win is the team’s largest this season.

** Auburn is 19-3 in non-conference games this season, including 16-1 at Plainsman Park. The team is also 5-0 in midweek games on The Plains this season. AU is hitting .314 with 53 doubles and 27 home runs against non-conference competition this season and have turned in a 3.86 ERA.

** Will Holland batted a team-best .375 in Auburn’s four games last week. He was 6-of-16 with two runs scored, one double, one home run and four RBI.

** The Tigers return to SEC play next weekend at Alabama. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. on SECN+ and WatchESPN.