Southern Baseball Notes
By Jake Veyhl
Its no secret that top-notch college baseball consistently lives in the South. The ACC and SEC provide some of the toughest conference races in the country and routinely make a strong showing on the sports elite stage. In fact, the College World Series championship game has featured one ACC or SEC team in each of the last six seasons with the SEC winning two consecutive titles (LSU, 2009; South Carolina 2010).
To this point, 2011 is no different.
Five of the top 10 teams according to this weeks Baseball America poll reside in the ACC or SEC, including four of the top five. With the conference season a little over halfway completed, heres a quick look around both leagues with important upcoming dates and a few players to watch.
Note: All rankings according to Baseball America. Records and stats through April 20th.
10. Florida State
13. Georgia Tech
14. North Carolina
2. South Carolina
As the nations No. 1 team, Virginia leads a jam-packed Coastal Division race with an impressive 38-3 overall record and 16-2 in conference play. Georgia Tech (14-4), Miami (13-4) and North Carolina (12-6) are right behind the Cavs but both the Hurricanes and Tar Heels still have head-to-head series with Virginia remaining. Florida State leads the Atlantic Division with an 11-7 record and Clemson, at 9-9, is its closest competitor.
In the SEC, like the ACC, most of the power resides in a single division. The SEC East boasts three national top-five teams, including the defending national champion, South Carolina (29-7, 12-3). The Gamecocks took two of three games from No. 4 Vanderbilt in a well-played series in Columbia last weekend, catapulting them ahead of both the Commodores (11-4) and Gators (11-4).
Important upcoming series:
With so many quality teams hanging around, theres important baseball each and every week. CSS has featured a number of tightly-contested games already this season, but theres plenty more ahead. If youre a fan of watching the best of the best, make sure you tune in May 13-15. Four huge series will be played that weekend.
- Alabama at Florida 422-24
- Miami at North Carolina 422-24
- Florida State at Miami 429-51
- Florida at Arkansas 55-7
- Florida at Vanderbilt 513-15
- Arkansas at South Carolina 513-15
- Miami at Virginia 513-15
- North Carolina at Georgia Tech 513-15
- South Carolina at Alabama 519-21
- North Carolina at Virginia 519-21
At least one game of this series will be aired on CSS
Interestingly, South Carolina has already played all five SEC East opponents, taking two of three from both Vandy and Florida. Their remaining five series come against the SEC West. Not that it matters in the conference race, but South Carolina fell to in-state rivals Furman and The Citadel earlier this season.
Vanderbilt still has series with four SEC East teams, including a crucial mid-May showdown with Florida in Nashville.
Florida has three big series upcoming with Vandy and SEC West co-leaders Alabama and Arkansas. The Gators played well against ranked ACC opponents earlier in the year, sweeping Miami in a three game set in early March and splitting a pair of games with Florida State.
Virginia swept Florida State earlier in the year and won two of three against Georgia Tech.
Miami must still run the gauntlet of North Carolina, Virginia and Florida State. After being swept by Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes must prove they belong in the conversation as one of the ACCs elite.
Possible SEC player of the year Mikie Mahtook sits atop many of the conferences batting leaderboards. The LSU outfielder is hitting .365 (6th in the league) with a .706 slugging percentage (1st), 42 runs scored (1st), 37 RBIs (2nd), 10 home runs (1st) and 21 stolen bases (2nd).
Virginia pitchers Will Roberts and Danny Hultzen rank seventh and 11th nationally in ERA, respectively. As a team, the Cavs are seventh, allowing 2.35 earned runs per game. Hultzen also ranks second nationally with 99 strikeouts in 61.1 innings pitched.
Georgias Tyler Maloof (12), Virginias Brandon Kline (11), South Carolinas Matt Price (11) and Miamis Daniel Miranda (10) have all recorded double-digit saves this season.