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Plainslinks pulls out its warm-weather clothing

This is Justin Fradejas, back from injury, and another reason Auburn could be back in an NCAA Regional.

On the up-and-up. One of the pleasant things about Auburn’s baseball program getting its feet underneath it is that it’s fun when your team features in those NCAA Tournament projections … and as PPL is helpfully tracking for us, that’s what’s happening now. With an RPI of 24, Auburn doesn’t appear to be in any immediate danger of falling out of the field, and is potentially ticketed for a second seed in either sunny Tallahassee or even sunnier Miami. Sweet.

Of course, it helps when you do things like crush a not-terrible Georgia St. team 22-7 and use a whirlwind of pitchers to hold an NCAA-bound South Alabama team to 10 hits and 2 runs in a 6-2 victory. With Trent Mummey healthy again, Auburn playing a shade better in SEC ball than their record might suggest, and the Tigers facing a cushier schedule down the stretch–as PPL explains in more detail here–if they can just hang on in this weekend’s home series against No. 4 LSU and next weekend’s visit to Vandy, that projected No. 2 Regional seed will start to feel like something to expect rather than hope for.

The cost of doing business. Tony Barbee’s made some recruiting headway in his short Auburn tenure–the Tigers have an outside shot (and I do mean outside*) with stud Huntsville native Luke Cothron–but, not surprisingly, most of the news has been bad. Knoxville guard Jalen Steele has become the latest of Lebo’s recruits to ask for a release from his letter of intent, and it seems likely there’s more to come.

In three words: so it goes.

U TEH WINNAR. Congratulations are in order for reader “Ike,” who took home first place in this year’s TWER Bracket Bustin’ challenge. We’ll try not to hold it against him that he did so by picking Duke to go all the way, since Duke was No. 1 in the kenpom ratings and were kind of underrated and all. As a reward, Ike gets a lifetime supply of pride and maybe something else. Ike, e-mail me ([email protected]) and we’ll talk.

Shout-out is also deserved to runner-up and long-time reader Sullivan, who also took the Dukies to take home the big prize. Your humble Auburn Blogger took eighth, which isn’t so bad.

Draftwatch. Chalk up another vote for Ben Tate as a second-round prospect, this one coming from Pat Kirwan of NFL.com … even if Kirwan’s apparently laboring under the misconception Tate’s a wide receiver.

Unfortunately, it’s not a consensus. Bryan Matthews notes that Tate’s fallen out of the second in CBSSportsline’s mock and he’s nowhere to be seen i nthe second round of this Sporting News mock. C’est la vie.

A reason to watch golf? Thanks to Jay G. Tate for alerting us to the third former Auburn golfer to ever qualify for the Masters, 2000 alum Jason Dufner. Dufner qualified by finishing 66th in something called the “Official World Golf Rankings” last year.

If he is in contention on Sunday, yes, I will watch the Masters. Otherwise, I’m not going to know what you’re talking about when you try and talk to me aboutt he Masters, because every time I hear Tiger Woods speak these days I’m convinced a fairy is falling down dead somewhere.

Etc. File under “not surprising”: Auburn’s Rhodes Scholar swimmer, Jordan Anderson, has received the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award … He’s talking about MLS Soccer rather than, you know, whatever your favorite sport is, but I think Dan Loney’s (hysterical as always) defense of sports fandom works across a lot of boundaries … The Auburn equestrian teams is ready to make a run at another national title as the overall top seed (they’re the second seed in both hunt seat and western, which are competed and seeded separately. Equestrian is kind of complicated) … I’ve meant to link this for days, but anyways, if you missed this Chris Low piece on Cam Newton, Newton made several trips to Jordan-Hare in his high school days; supports the rumorrific hypothesis I’ve heard a couple of times that Newton might have come to Auburn the first go-round if Tubby and Co. were interested, but they decided to focus on Kodi Burns instead.

*HT: RBR.

Photo by Van Emst.

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