‘The most beautiful journey’: Auburn prepares for the College World Series


OMAHA, Neb. – Auburn packed a week of action into the Tigers’ first full day at Omaha.

A team photo, dozens of interviews, training at Charles Schwab Field, a parade and opening ceremonies.

The festivities ended prematurely Thursday night when lightning was detected near the stadium, but the fireworks went off anyway, two days before Auburn hoped to produce their own thunder and pyrotechnics on Saturday against the SEC rival West, Ole Miss.

This CWS could be rebranded as the “SEC West Invitational” with four Western Division teams represented, as well as new Southeastern Conference members Oklahoma and Texas.

“We’ve had an amazing journey through the rigorous SEC and it still looks like we’ll have to face some of those haters here this week,” the Auburn coach said. Butch Thompson, which has led the Tigers to two World Series appearances in the past three seasons. “It is personally the year 30, and it may have been the most beautiful trip for me.

“It’s thanks to our players, our student-athletes and the way they’ve worked for us, watching amazing times, being front row seats for amazing things they’ve done.

“They were challenged with low expectations, and that pushed them even further to this point. We come in here thinking we’re not done yet. That’s a great feeling for a baseball team.

“We hope the best is yet to come this week, but we’re certainly grateful to be here. This is the pinnacle for us and for college baseball.”

Auburn qualified for Omaha by going through an NCAA regional tournament at Plainsman Park and then winning the Corvallis Super Regional against Oregon State.

“Our motto ‘not yet done’ really sticks to our skin”, senior outfielder Kason Howell said. “This team has really taken over this team. We have a great vision to win a national championship, to bring home this trophy for the first time in this program.

“The motto in 2019 was ‘let’s go to Omaha,'” the senior pitcher said Captain Carson. “This year, let’s go and ‘let’s win a national championship’. Just being successful here is not good enough for us.”

The Tigers will visit Offutt Air Force Base on Friday, then practice at an Omaha high school before hoping to pull out their Top Gun party hats if Auburn can defeat Ole Miss Saturday at 6:00 p.m. CT when they open the tournament.

“As a rookie, it probably took me three rounds to realize what was going on when I was there, because I was amazed at how cool the stadium was,” said Howell, a starting Auburn’s 2019 CWS team. “As Coach Thompson said, low expectations have driven us all year. It always drives us. It hasn’t stopped. I think this team is very united and we have a great chance to do it.”

Auburn Coach Butch Thompson talks to the TIgers on Thursday at Charles Schwab Field

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer


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