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An impact freshman

AUBURN, Ala. -- In 1997, Tim Hudson had one of the best seasons in college baseball history.

Thompson is one of Auburn's talented freshmen.

First-year Auburn coach Sunny Golloway believes he may have Auburn’s next two-position star in freshman Keegan Thompson.

“He’s shown us a glimpse of maybe what Tim Hudson was back in the day, and that’s saying a lot,” Golloway said. “He can really swing the bat. He’s not getting to swing it in the live-bat era like Hudson did, but he’s a big, strong guy who likes to attack the first pitch in the zone. I like his athleticism around first base and the way he competes on the mound and just his quiet nature, but competitiveness.

“It gives of a chance to maybe have a freshman in our Friday night slot or Sunday. I like that because if he’s not pitching until Sunday, we can protect the arm at first base if he wins that starting job. So far, he’s shown me a guy that we need to have his bat in the lineup.”

It’s unlikely Thompson will approach the numbers that Hudson put up as a senior at Auburn batting .396 with 18 home runs and 95 RBI, and finishing with a 15-2 record and 2.97 ERA.

Thompson is looking forward to the challenge of playing both positions in college, something he did throughout his career at Cullman (Ala.) High School.

“It’s going to be fun,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be kind of difficult moving between pitching and hitting and first base, getting my practice work in at every position. I’m doing it as best I can and, hopefully, it will work out for the best.”

Thompson is part of a freshman class that could include up to four starters: starting pitcher Kevin Davis, second baseman Damon Haecker and outfielder Anfernee Grier. Daniel Robert could fill in at first base and designated hitter along with Thompson and senior Patrick Savage.

They’ve all put in a lot of work since arriving at Auburn last fall.

“Coming into a four-year college, SEC, Auburn, you just have to work your tail off everyday to get better so you can stay at the top of the competition,” Thompson said.

Auburn began preseason practice Sunday. The Tigers open the season against Indiana Friday, Feb. 14 in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. The Tigers will play Ohio State Saturday and Connecticut Sunday.

“I’m really excited,” Thompson said. “...I’m just ready to get going.”

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