Regardless of what happens this weekend at the College World Series in Omaha, the Auburn baseball team will cap off one of the Tigers' most memorable years in sports, primarily because of outstanding performances by the winter and spring athletic teams.
After a disappointing 2018 football season that fell well short of preseason expectations but ended with a resounding blowout win over Purdue in the Music City Bowl, Auburn sports took a turn toward something special, highlighted by the men's basketball program's first appearance in a Final Four, the baseball team's first appearance at the College World Series in Omaha since 1997, and another national championship by the Equestrian team, which has won the overall NCEA national championship five times this decade and three of the past four years.
Auburn also found success in other sports as well, including gymnastics, which earned a spot in the first NCAA Sweet Sixteen after posing the best regular season record in program history and finishing second in the SEC. Auburn gymnastics also celebrated the program's first NCAA Champion, when true freshman Derrian Gobourne tied for the individual vault crown with a score of 9.95.
The Auburn men's golf team put together a solid season, finishing in 12th place at the 2019 NCAA Championship, which is tied for the sixth-best finish in program history.
The most trilling finish, at least so far, came from the Auburn men's basketball team, which tore through blueblood programs Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky in three straight games to secure the Tigers' first appearance in a Final Four. A glaring no-call and questionable call by officials at the end of the game against Virginia denied the Tigers a chance to play for a national title, although just making it to the Final Four is an historic accomplishment for Bruce Pearl's Auburn team.
As for the baseball team, any more wins at this point would just be gravy for a program that wasn't expected to make it this far in the tournament.
The triumphs of the spring sports season have been tempered by tragedy and loss, though.
In basketball, the Tigers watched as its star player, Chuma Okeke, fell to the floor with an ACL tear as the team was beating up on the Tar Heels. He entered the NBA Draft and won't return to play another year in college.
And the baseball team's historic run to Omaha has been bittersweet without the presence of Rod Bramblett, who called Auburn baseball games since the early 90s before tragically dying, along with his wife, in a car accident in late May.
But nothing would have made Bramblett prouder or more excited than seeing his Tigers playing in Omaha after sitting courtside for the basketball team's Final Four run.
And if the Tigers can pull off the improbable and take home the program's first NCAA title at the College World Series for Bramblett, nothing else could be much sweeter.