2012 Record: 31-28, 13-17 SEC
2012 Finish: Fifth Western Division
2012 Postseason: Lost in SEC Tournament
The Auburn Tigers struggled at the end of last year, especially in conference play. Including the SEC Tournament, they dropped nine of their last 15 games to finish with a record barely better than .500.
But Auburn did not miss the NCAA Tournament because of having a bad team.
It hit .304 as a team while posting a 3.92 team ERA.
The problem simply was the Tigers played in the toughest conference in the nation and in a division that includes LSU, a College World Series team in Arkansas and the eventual SEC Tournament champions Mississippi State.
Also, Auburn struggled a lot on the road. The Tigers went 9-15 in true road games and on neutral sites.
If the Tigers have hopes for making the NCAA Tournament and finishing better in the SEC Western Division, they are going to have to do so with their pitching.
Auburn returns sophomore lefty Daniel Koger, who led the team with 15 starts. He put together a 4-5 record but had a quality 3.19 ERA.
Will Kendall — 4-0 record and 1.88 ERA in nine appearances, six of which were starts — returns as the returning pitcher who collected the most innings other than Koger. He held opposing hitters to a .137 batting average in 2012.
The Tigers may struggle during conference play, as tough as the SEC is supposed to be, but they could make a run at a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2013.
Key Series: vs. Vanderbilt, March 15-17 — The Commodores are one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, and the Auburn Tigers get to open the conference season at home against them. Even if the Tigers do not win the series, playing well in it can be huge before having to face LSU on the road the following weekend. But a conference series victory against Vanderbilt will be a huge step in the right direction to open SEC play.