It's the end of an era for Auburn baseball, but bright days are ahead.
Despite the three-year stint as Auburn's pitching coach coming to an end for Auburn alumnus Tim Hudson, head coach Butch Thompson likes where things are going for the program with the addition of veteran coach Daron Schoenrock.
“The whole college baseball world recognizes [Hudson's] enhanced legacy as our pitching coach the last three seasons,” Thompson said. “At the end of the day, he earned his Auburn degree and helped lead our program back to the College World Series. No student-athlete has given more back to their university, and Tim’s desire to work hard every day is an amazing example to respect and strive for."
Hudson did a remarkable job with the Tigers' pitching staff, as the group ranked in the top 50 in the NCAA in ERA in two of his three seasons. Things ended sweetly- with a trip to the College World Series and a program-high 666 strikeouts for Auburn hurlers in 2022.
His impact at Auburn helped eight pitcher's get taken in the MLB Draft, including five following the 2022 season. Four other Auburn pitchers went on to the next level as undrafted free agent signees during his time at Auburn.
After becoming the first Auburn player to earn a bid to Omaha both as a player and a coach, Hudson now makes his return across the city to Lee Scott Academy, where his son, Kade Hudson, is entering his senior season. He previously coached for Lee Scott's middle school team, but this time he will take over as head coach for the Varsity club.
"Auburn University has been special to my family and I for nearly three decades, and I couldn’t thank Butch and his staff more for the opportunity to give back to the program during the last three seasons,” Hudson said. “Being able to help lead these young men back to Omaha was something I will cherish forever... Auburn baseball is in great hands, and I look forward to cheering them on from Plainsman Park. War Eagle!”
As bittersweet as Hudson's departure is, like he said, the program is in good hands. Auburn is getting a 38-year baseball coach who helped lead Georgia to the CWS in 2001 and has produced talent such as: 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb, six-time All-Star Jonathon Paplebon and 10-year MLB starter Paul Maholm.
"Coach Rock" was most recently the head coach of Memphis, but he and Thompson go way back to Thompson's college playing days at Birmingham-Southern, where Schoenrock was the pitching coach from 1991-92 before coaching together from 1994-96.
“I could not be more excited to welcome my college pitching coach to our staff at Auburn,” Thompson said. “Daron [Schoenrock] and his wife Carol have impacted so many along their baseball journey. He is an elite teacher with an incredible track record. Our pitchers will be cared for and developed at the highest rate possible in college baseball."
A graduate and former player at Tennessee Tech, Schoenrock began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1985. He never slowed down from there, going on to reach the CWS, NCAA Tournament with Memphis in 2007 and become the 2013 Conference USA Coach of the Year.
Reigning from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and raised in Fayetteville, Tennessee, Schoenrock has also acted as the Chairman of the Conference USA Baseball Coaches from 2008-13 and Chairman of the American Athletic Conference Baseball Coaches from 2014-18 along with serving on the American Baseball Coaches Association Lefty Gomez Award Committee (2003-11) and NCAA Baseball Regional Advisory Committee (2014-17).
Schoenrock comes to the Plains after spending his last 18 seasons at Memphis, but this is not his first go-around at an SEC program. As mentioned before, he coached at Georgia from 2000-01 in addition to Kentucky from 1998-99 and Mississippi State from 2002-04. Those years included jobs as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the respective programs.
Replacing an Auburn legend and 17-year MLB veteran, Schoenrock has big shoes to fill, but his experience and past success gives Auburn every reason to believe he will keep the Tigers trending in the right direction.
Schoenrock will be assigned the task of retooling a pitching staff that lost five pitchers (three starters) to this year's MLB Draft, although he has USA Collegiate National Team pitcher and returning starter, Joseph Gonzalez, back for his senior year.
“It is a tremendous honor to join Coach Thompson and the entire Auburn baseball family,” Schoenrock said. “The culture he has built, the staff he has assembled, and the success they have achieved are second to none. I can’t wait to build upon the outstanding groundwork that has been established for Auburn Tiger pitching by Coach Thompson and Coach Hudson. War Eagle!”
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Noah is a senior in journalism from Salem, Alabama. He joined the Plainsman in August of 2021 after transferring in from Southern Union Community College.