May 16, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Things have changed for second baseman Jordan Ebert since the day he showed up to play Auburn baseball.
"In the fall, I was just battling for a position, trying to do anything to get on the field to help this team. Lately, it's changed to help this team to get to a regional and help us get to be where we want to be as a program."
Ebert chipped in on that score last weekend in a series win at Florida where he hit .545 on the way to SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Now, he wants to help Auburn in critical series against Arkansas that will close out the regular season. The first game of the three-game series is Thursday at 6 p.m. in Plainsman Park.
Auburn is looking for a big finish to make the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee take notice. The Tigers have won six of their last eight games and are 31-21 overall, 11-16 in the SEC, have a 35 RPI and have a date in next week's SEC Tournament.
Before recently winning back-to-back series against Ole Miss and Florida, however, "we weren't playing well and we knew it," Ebert said. "We kind of put the regional on the backburner for a little while. We worried more about getting in the SEC Tournament. Now, it's 'we're pretty good and we deserve to be in a regional.' If we can get in a regional, we can make something happen."
Ebert has made things happen. He's had hitting streaks of 12 and 13 games, and his .302 batting average is the third best on the team, and he says his defense has improved, too. But there have been ups and downs along the way.
"The LSU series I think I had three errors in four days, counting the Southern Miss game," he said. "I had two in Baton Rouge, and Coach Pawlowski took me out of that game. After that, (teammate) Mitchell Self was out at second base and spent a lot of time with me, teaching me some things I hadn't really thought about. After that, defensively, I've played a lot better. I'm not sure I've had an error since."
Ebert was perfect on all 33 fielding chances at Florida and was involved in turning five of six double plays. Throw in the hitting and you had the SEC's freshman of the week.
"Going into the year I had a lot of goals for me and this team," he said. "One of my goals was to win an SEC Freshman of the Week. I always try to set my goals high. If you reach them, you reach them. If you don't, you just keep on working toward them. I was lucky enough to get a spot on the field and come through with some hits."
Ebert says he's confident in his approach at the plate now, but says Auburn has hit the ball hard all year with the exception of a series at Missouri.
"The Vanderbilt and LSU series stick out because we really hit the ball well, but it seemed like nothing went our way. I remember Vandy made five or six diving plays against us. It was a frustrating series for me. I went 1-for-12 or 1-for-13, but I could have had about seven hits if Tony Kemp wasn't playing second base."
The hitting turnaround, Ebert said, has "been a little bit of good luck" and his teammates "buying into" what assistant coach Gabe Gross has preached.
"He wants us," Ebert said, "to have a real unselfish approach at the plate to try to just get runs in."
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