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2011 CBD Season Preview: SEC Western Division

The SEC Western Division was won by the Auburn Tigers during 2010 season with a 20-10 record. Coming in as the runner up was the Arkansas Razorbacks who went 18-12. Ole Miss finished third at 16-14 while Alabama came in fourth at 15-15. LSU went 14-16 for a fifth place finish and Mississippi State finished last with a 6-24 mark.

Alabama (42-25 overall, 15-15)

Alabama Crimson Tide won the 2010 Georgia Tech Regional last season by going 4-1 with victories over Elon (11-2), Mercer (5-3), and Georgia Tech twice (8-1, 10-8) to avance to the Super Regional round advance Clemson. The Tide took the first game by a score of 5-4 before dropping the final two games by scores of 19-5 and 8-6 to end the season.

The top returning hitter is junior outfielder Taylor Dugas who had a great season hitting at a .395 with two homers and driving in 37 runs while stealing 19 bases in 24 attempts. Adam Morgan is the top returning starter pitcher after going 7-5 with a 6.18 ERA last season in 90.1 innings of work.

Arkansas (43-21 Overall, 18-12 SEC)

Arkansas finished last season with a 43-21 overall record while finishing in second place in the SEC West with a 18-12 record. They were selected to host an NCAA Regional as they went 3-1 with a victory over Grambling before defeating Washington State which was sandwiched around a loss to the Cougars.

The Razorbacks will have to replace Zack Cox who led the team with a .429 batting average with nine homers and 48 RBI. The top returning hitter is Collin Kuhn who hit .336 with 16 homers and 52 RBI.

Arkansas will have to replace their entire weekend rotation as they lose Drew Smyly (9-1, 2.80 ERA), Mike Bolsinger (6-5, 4.81 ERA), and Brett Eibner (3-5, 4.34 ERA). Randall Fant is the top returning starter as he went 3-2 with a 4.37 ERA in ten starts.

Auburn (43-21 Overall, 20-10 SEC)

The Tigers had a great 2010 season winning the SEC Western Division title but had a tough postseason as they went 1-2 in the SEC Tourney before hosting an NCAA Regional. They ended up going 3-2 with both losses coming to the Clemson Tigers to end their season.

They will need to replace three of their top power hitters in Trent Mummey, Hunter Morris and Brian Fletcher. Mummey ended up hitting .366 with 17 HR and 54 RBI as Morris hit .386 BA, 23 HR, and 76 RBI, and Brian Fletcher hit .357 with 22 homers and 75 RBI.

The offense will be led by seniors Tony Caldwell and Kevin Patterson. Caldwell hit .349 with ten homers and 41 RBI while Patterson hit .315 with 16 homers and 33 RBI. With the other keys of the Tigers offense gone, it will be interesting to see how these two key hitters do this season.

Cory Luckie is the top returning starting pitcher after tossing 70 innings and going 6-4 with a 5.91 ERA. The other key returnee on the staff is Bradley Hendrix who went 4-2 with a 5.35 ERA.

LSU (41-22 overall, 14-16 SEC)

The 2009 National Champions LSU Tigers struggled throughout the 2010 campaign as they went 41-22 while going 14-16 in the SEC. LSU was sent to the UCLA Regional where they defeated UC-Irvine 11-10 before losing to UCLA 6-3 and UC-Irvine 4-3 to end their season.

The Tigers lose their top three hitters from last season in Micah Gibbs, Blake Dean, and Leon Landry. The top returning hitter is Mikie Mahtook who hit .335 with 14 homers and 50 RBI. Tyler Hanover is another key returnee who hit .332 with two homers and 35 RBI.

Joey Bourgeois is the top returning starting pitcher as he went 4-1 with a 6.68 ERA. The top reliever to come back is Matty Ott who went 2-4 with a 6.38 ERA including eleven saves.

Ole Miss (39-24, 16-14 SEC)

Ole Miss finished last season with a 39-24 record while going a disappointing 16-14 in the SEC. They received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament where they were sent to Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rebels picked up a victory over St. John’s before losing to Virginia and St. John’s back to back to end their season.

They return their top three hitters from last year’s squad in Matt Smith, Matt Snyder, and Tanner Mathis. Smith played in 58 games while leading the team with a .348 batting average, 12 homers, and 54 RBI. Snyder had a .347 average in 42 games while jacking 12 homers and driving in 40 runs.

The pitching staff will be missing their top pitcher in Drew Pomeranz who was the fifth selection in 2010 MLB Draft. Matt Crouse and David Goforth are the top returning starting pitchers for the Rebels. Crouse made 21 appearances (six starts) as he went 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings pitched. Goforth struggled on the hill going 1-6 with a 9.43 ERA in 22 appearances (11 starts) totaling 56.1 innings pitched.

Mississippi State (23-33 overall, 6-24 SEC)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs struggled throughout the 2010 season especially in SEC play as they had an overall record of 23-33 while going 6-24 in conference play. They did not qualify for the SEC or NCAA Tournament with the poor record.

The offense for the Bulldogs hit .296 but they lose four of their top five hitters with the only one returning in Nick Vickerson. He hit .328 with eight homers and 27 RBI last year while stealing ten bases on eleven attempts.

Chris Stratton is the top returning pitcher as he made 14 starts last season going 5-3 with a 5.29 ERA. They also return their save leader in Ben Bracewell who went 0-2 with four saves and an ERA of 5.50 in 17 appearances last year.

Predictions

1. Auburn
2. Alabama
3. LSU
4. Arkansas
5. Ole Miss
6. Mississippi State

Projected Top Position Player: Mikie Mahtook (LSU)
Projected Top Pitcher: Matty Ott