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South Dominates College Baseball

Posted: May 14, 2008

by Patrick Snow

There is one more week of college baseball before the conference tournaments, and the teams in our Swampland footprint are looking very strong. I had the pleasure this past weekend to attend a great 3-game series between Vanderbilt and Georgia. The Bulldogs took two of three in Nashville and won the SEC regular-season title in the process. Two things really stood out to me about the strength of baseball in our area while I watched these two Top 20 teams go at it. First, the crowds for baseball have increased all over the SEC. You always knew schools like LSU and Mississippi State drew tons of fans, but now places like Vandy and Kentucky, former graveyards for baseball, are drawing over 8000 for weekend series. Much like in football, the addition of great coaches-Tim Corbin (VU) and John Cohen (UK)- has made each program into a Top 20 contender. The second thing that stood out at Vandy was the quality of players on the field. I got to see three guys (3B Pedro Alvarez-VU, SS Gordon Beckham-UGA, and P Josh Fields-UGA) who will be in the Top 20 picks in next month’s MLB draft.

Besides Georgia and Vandy in the SEC, LSU may be the hottest team in the nation. The Tigers have won 12 in a row including three straight SEC sweeps over South Carolina, Kentucky, and Mississippi State. Kentucky is back in the Top 20 after their sweep of Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend while Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi also have a good chance to be players in the postseason.

ACC baseball has never been stronger with three teams in the Top 5 in the nation for much of the year. Miami looks to be the best team in the country with their arch-rival Florida State close behind. North Carolina has lost in the National Championship series two years in a row, but Mike Fox’s club is primed to be right back in the Title hunt this season. Additionally, look for N.C. State and Virginia to also be factors in the Regionals.

The state of Texas will also be strongly represented in the postseason. Texas A&M has battled Nebraska for Big 12 supremacy all season while Rice (#6 in the Nation) is leading Conference USA and TCU (#24) is leading the Mountain West Conference.

There will plenty of Regional and Super Regional action in our Swampland area during the next couple of weeks. I would encourage each of you to go check out the top level of baseball that is being played around the South. Take a look at this Mock Draft for the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. Over a one-third of the players projected to be taken in the first round are from ACC or SEC schools, and that doesn’t even include the high schoolers from our area. There is no question that college baseball is thriving throughout our footprint.

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