College baseball is in full swing, although many of you may not have noticed yet. In most parts of the country, college baseball doesn’t matter until after the NCAA Tournament is over. This however, is not the case in the SEC.
The SEC takes their baseball very seriously. In fact, at many of these schools, baseball takes precedent over hoops, or is at least equal. At schools such as LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and South Carolina, the baseball team often sells out 10,000+ seat ballparks for baseball games. At LSU, fans tailgate for games like it’s football season.
The class of the league so far this season is the #1 ranked Florida Gators and the #2 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. Both these teams are coming off great runs in last year’s College World Series and both are looking as if they intend to go back. Vandy has been one of the finalists the past two years with Virginia, winning it all two seasons ago before losing the finals in three games to the Cavs last season. Florida took the Cavs to the limit in the round robin play of their bracket.
The Gators look to be a runaway train so far this season. They are 18-1 and have won 12 in a row. If you think they have fattened up on a bunch of weak teams, think again. Florida went to Coral Gables and took two of three from the Miami Hurricanes, who at the time were ranked #5. They also have a 6-0 shutout of Florida State, two wins over UCF and a three game sweep of Florida Gulf Coast.
With a pitching rotation of Logan Shore, A. J. Puk and Alex Faedo for the weekends and Dan Dunning for the mid-week, Florida can run four starters to the mound that can beat anyone. This will make them especially tough at tournament time.
SEC play begins this weekend with the Gators hosting Missouri. Mizzou comes in at 12-6 and can throw two good arms at any team on Friday and Saturday. Look for some low scoring games in this series.
#2 Vandy takes on Mississippi State this weekend at home. MSU comes in ranked at #15 in the most recent USA Today poll. While they are ranked among the top 15 in the country, the Bulldogs are only the eighth highest ranked team in the SEC. Imagine if that were the case in football. This will be a great series.
Texas A&M comes into their first SEC series ranked #3 and they’ll take on Auburn, one of the few unranked SEC teams. But the Tigers did play in last year;s NCAA Tournament, so don’t look past them.
LSU checks in at #8 this week and they’ll take on Alabama at Alex Box Stadium. Any time these two schools meet, you are in for a good time. Alabama is also not ranked this week, but they are always tough.
Ole Miss comes in at #10, the fifth SEC team in the top ten, and will visit Tennessee. Ole Miss at 17-1 should take the series from the 11-5 Volunteers, but it will be entertaining.
With SEC play underway, the nest ten weekends will be a lot of fun with all these ranked teams facing one another. Do not be surprised if Omaha has three or maybe four teams from the SEC again this year. We may even get an all-SEC final series.
The Gators are our pick to win the regular season championship. They are a team with very few holes. They can play defense, hit for average and power, and most importantly, they can pitch. Faedo is coming off a start in which he had a perfect game with one out in the seventh inning against Harvard. Dunning threw three double play balls on Tuesday against FSU. Those are the number three and number four guys!