By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 10 Review
The Tigers took two out of three games from LSU to finish the regular season, including a 14-5 victory in the series finale this past weekend. Auburn finished 15-15 in league play and earned the No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament. In the opening round against Kentucky, Auburn defeated the Wildcats, 4-3, in 11 innings on a walk-off base hit from freshman designated hitter Edouard Julien. With the win, the Tigers advanced to the double elimination portion of the tournament. In the second round, Auburn knocked off No. 2 seed Ole Miss, 9-3. Julien hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning to secure the victory for the Tigers.
Alabama Week 10 Review
First-year head coach Brad Bohannon’s first season in Tuscaloosa wasn’t exactly a banner year for the Crimson Tide, but the program showed flashes of improvement throughout the season. Alabama lost its final series of the year against Ole Miss but did manage to win the second game, 3-0, behind a superb performance from senior pitcher Jake Walters, who tossed a complete-game shutout and struck out seven while only allowing four hits and two walks. The Tide finished the season 27-29 overall and 8-22 in conference play. UA missed the SEC Tournament, so now Bohannon will be tasked with bringing in the recruits to change the trajectory of the program.
SEC Baseball Rankings
1. Florida (42-15, 20-10)
2. Ole Miss (42-15, 18-12)
3. Arkansas (37-17, 18-12)
4. Georgia (37-18, 18-12)
5. Auburn (39-19, 15-15)
6. South Carolina (33-22, 17-13)
7. Texas A&M (38-19, 13-17)
8. LSU (34-24, 15-15)
9. Vanderbilt (31-25, 16-14)
10. Kentucky (34-22, 13-17)
11. Mississippi State (31-25, 15-15)
12. Missouri (34-22,12-18)
13. Tennessee (29-27, 12-18)
14. Alabama (27-29, 8-22)
SEC Tournament Preview and Predictions
At least 10 teams from the SEC should make the NCAA Tournament. Almost every matchup at this week’s SEC Tournament includes teams vying for a better seed at the NCAA Tournament.
Florida and Ole Miss won the SEC East and West divisions, respectively, and both teams host regional and potentially super regional tournaments. Arkansas is also a lock for the NCAA Tournament and likely will host a regional and super regional. Georgia and Auburn both are comfortably in the tournament field and could play themselves in position to host a regional, depending on how they fare this week in Hoover.
Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt all should be in the national tournament field, with LSU and Mississippi State on the bubble. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs, 8-5, in the first round of the SEC Tournament, so the Rebels must wait all weekend to see if they make the next tournament. MSU did sweep Florida in the final series of the regular season, so that certainly helps the resume.
In first round games, Texas A&M defeated Vanderbilt, 3-1; Auburn beat Kentucky, 4-3; LSU beat Mississippi State, 8-5; and South Carolina beat Missouri, 4-2.
The four losing teams were eliminated, while the winners advanced to the double elimination round of the tournament.
On the second day, the Aggies blanked Georgia, 7-0; Auburn defeated Ole Miss, 9-3; and Florida snuck by LSU, 4-3.
The Gators have been the best team in both the league and the country all season. The defending national champions look capable of winning another crown this year and are the team to beat at the SEC Tournament. Florida has won seven SEC Tournament titles, with the last championship coming in 2015. Mississippi State and Alabama also have seven titles each, trailing only LSU, who has 12.
Had Ole Miss not lost to Auburn in its opening game of the tournament, the Rebels would have been a trendy pick to win the championship. Instead, the loss sent them into the losers’ bracket, through which they must work their way back to the title game.
Arkansas could make a run and challenge the Gators, and Texas A&M is a threat after upending both Vanderbilt and Georgia. It’s a wide-open tournament and more than a handful of teams are capable of winning the championship.
Title game prediction: Florida over Arkansas