Auburn opens the 2009 Season against the former "Fighting Christian" of Elon College. Wait. What?
Yes, before we continue with a preview we have to take a minute and remember the old nickname of Elon College: The Fightin' Christians. Don't believe me? Well they even had a stuffed mascot:
That's about all I know about Elon. Oh. Other than the fact that they play damn good baseball.
Elon is not going to be a push-over. They are defending SoCon champs and new Auburn Coach John Palowski should be very familiar with their star player: Cory Harrilchak. Harrilchak does it all for the Phoenix (oh yeah, that's their current nickname, by the way). Including pretty much single handedly beating Palowski's former team in the SoCon Championship game last year:
Went 5-for-5 with four runs scored and three RBI while also hurling 6.0 innings to earn the win in Elon’s 17-8 victory over College of Charleston in the SoCon title game ... The five-hit performance in the title game equaled the tournament record .
The former Community College transfer has become a bonafide star. Currently ranking #3 in Rivals OF position rankings and being a pre-season All-American selection. So, yeah, he's that good. Oh he's also the team's best returning pitcher. The lefty finished the season 7-3 with a 5.13 ERA, pitching the third most innings of any Elon pitcher (66.2) and striking out 46.
Harrichek isn't the only weapon either. 3B Bennett Davis is currently ranked #7 by Rivals.
So we have two guys who are considered some of the best in the nation, a squad coming off it's best year in school history, and a veteran staff (HC Mike Kennedy is in his 12 season as head coach). Doesn't sound like the early season push-over that Hofsta used to be.
The best news for the Tigers is that Elon lost it's best pitcher; Steven Hensley (10-2/3.59 ERA/92.2 IP/99 K) to the MLB Draft (Mariners/4th Rd).
So here begins the early test for the Tigers. First pitch is 3pm Friday (2/20); 3pm Saturday (2/21); and 1pm Sunday.