By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
There was a heavy dosage of SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament, and that trend will continue into the Super Regionals. Ten teams from the SEC competed in the regionals, and six of those remain standing.
Vanderbilt earned the No. 2 overall seed, and the Commodores flexed their muscle throughout the Nashville Regional. After cruising past Ohio State, 8-2, in the opener, Vandy knocked off Indiana State, 8-5, to reach the finals. The Commodores then stormed past Indiana State, 12-1, to win the regional.
In Starkville, it only took Mississippi State three games to earn a spot in the Super Regionals. The Bulldogs beat Central Michigan 7-2, followed by back-to-back wins over Miami.
Up north in Oxford, Ole Miss easily stormed through opponents in the Oxford Regional. The Rebels defeated Jacksonville State twice by a combined scored of 35-6 and beat Clemson, 6-1.
Arkansas took care of bu-siness in the Fayetteville Regional in three games as well. The Hogs beat Central Connecticut State, 11-5, in the opener, and knocked off TCU twice to win the regional.
Similarly, LSU won the Baton Rouge Regional fo-llowing a 17-3 win over the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the Tigers slipped past Southern Miss in two games to advance to the Super Regionals.
Only one SEC team made the Super Regionals despite not hosting a regional tournament. Auburn took down No. 3 overall seed Georgia Tech twice in Atlanta to advance to the Super Regionals for the second straight season. After beating Coastal Carolina, 16-7, in the opener, the Tigers trailed the Yellow Jackets 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth before rightfielder Steven Williams launched a three-run walk-off home run to keep Auburn in the winners’ bracket. The Tigers then beat Georgia Tech, 4-1, the following day.
Across the state in Athens, Georgia struggled mightily in losing twice to Florida State. The Seminoles beat the Bulldogs twice by a combined score of 22-4 despite UGA being the regional’s No. 3 seed. Georgia’s season came to an unexpected end despite being a national seed.
Florida barely snuck in the NCAA Tournament and narrowly lost twice to Dallas Baptist in the Lubbock Regional.
In Morgantown, West Virginia, Texas A&M twice lost to Duke.
Tennessee battled its way out of the losers’ bracket in Chapel Hill but fell to North Carolina, 5-2, in the regional finals.
Super Regionals Preview
Only 16 teams remain, and those teams will battle in a best two-of-three series this weekend. The top eight teams advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Six of the 16 teams are from the SEC, and four of those teams will host this weekend.
Vanderbilt takes on Duke, with the Commodores as prohibitive favorites. Duke was a No. 3 seed in the Morgantown Regional but played excellent baseball last weekend to advance.
Mississippi State hosts Stanford in what should be a very competitive series between two top seeds.
LSU welcomes Florida State to Baton Rouge, and the Tigers are heavy favorites in that matchup.
At least one SEC team is guaranteed to advance to Omaha when Ole Miss tra-vels to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas. The Rebels took two of three games against the Razorbacks in Fayetteville back in March and eliminated the Hogs in the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss leads the season series 3-2.
Auburn will travel again, this time to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina. This is the second time the Tigers will face the Tar Heels in the “Sweet 16.” Auburn upset UNC in the NCAA basketball tournament in March to advance to the Elite 8.
NCAA Super Regionals Predictions
Los Angeles: UCLA over Michigan
Lubbock: Texas Tech over Oklahoma State
Fayetteville: Arkansas over Ole Miss
Baton Rouge: LSU over Florida State
Nashville: Vanderbilt over Duke
Louisville: Louisville over East Carolina
Starkville: Mississippi State over Stanford
Chapel Hill: North Carolina over Auburn