Spring training is over for most college baseball teams, and now it’s time for conference play. Although, it might not have felt like spring training for some SEC teams as they were beat up in a tough out-of-conference schedule.
There weren’t many great matchups last weekend to reflect on, so we’ll jump right into our SEC Baseball Power Rankings after week four:
1. Florida (Same)
2. LSU (Same)
3. Texas A&M (Same)
4. South Carolina (Same)
5. Missouri (Up Two)
6. Ole Miss (Down One)
7. Vanderbilt (Up One)
8. Kentucky (Up One)
9. Tennessee (Up Two)
10. Arkansas (Down Four)
11. Mississippi State (Down One)
12. Auburn (Same)
13. Alabama (Up One)
14. Georgia (Down One)
Weekend Schedule (All Starters are Probable)
Florida at Auburn
This should be a very well-pitched series between Auburn and Florida as both teams boast some of the best starting pitchers in the conference, and both are lacking on offense. The difference will be the Auburn bullpen. If Florida’s hitters can get Auburn’s starters out of the game, especially on Friday and Saturday, then this should be an easy series for the Gators.
Friday (Faedo – 1.37 vs. Thompson – 0.64)
Saturday (Singer – 1.50 vs. Mize – 0.40)
Sunday (Kowar – 2.19 vs. Daniel – 4.50)
Prediction: Florida 2-1
Kentucky at Texas A&M
I’m very intrigued in this matchup as I think Kentucky has been a little underrated, but they have a chance to make a statement on the road against the Aggies. These two teams are one and two in the SEC in runs scored with Kentucky leading the way with 159. Kentucky is also second in average, but they haven’t faced a pitching staff like this since they were swept by North Carolina to start the season. This should be an entertaining series, but I’ll give Texas A&M the edge at home.
Friday (Hjelle – 7.06 vs. Brigham – 1.40)
Saturday (Logue – 1.93 vs. Kolek – 2.05)
Sunday (Lewis – 2.74 vs. Kilkenny – 2.70)
Prediction: Texas A&M 2-1
South Carolina at Tennessee
The Volunteers have an impressive 11-2 record on the season, but their best win may have come against Seton Hall. They’re third in the SEC in average and fifth in ERA, but again, they haven’t played anybody yet. Meanwhile, South Carolina is in the bottom half of the conference in those categories after playing a very difficult schedule to begin the season. We’ll find out this weekend if Tennessee’s record is reflective of an easy schedule, or South Carolina’s is reflective of a tough schedule to start the year.
Friday (Schmidt – 1.04 vs. Martin – 3.68)
Saturday (Crowe – 2.25 vs. Warren – 3.44)
Sunday (Hill 1.56 – vs. Linginfelter – 3.24)
Prediction: South Carolina 2-1
Mississippi State at Arkansas
Similar to the USC-UT series, Arkansas’ good record is indicative of an easy schedule, while Mississippi State’s is more indicative of a tough schedule. In Arkansas’ big matchups against Arizona and Oklahoma State they lost. Both have losses to a very good La Tech team. Mississippi State’s bullpen has been a problem, but I think Pilkington and Plumlee are able to give them at least one win this weekend, but I’m really not sure what to expect in this series.
Friday (Pilkington – 1.73 vs. Knight – 2.79)
Saturday (Plumlee – 1.88 vs. Stephan – 0.75)
Sunday (TBD vs. Alberius – 4.00)
Prediction: Mississippi State 2-1
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss
Vanderbilt has been one of the most confusing teams all year as they’ve really struggled. A lot of that has to do with Kyle Wright who isn’t pitching like the first round draft pick everyone pegged him to be. They are 1-3 in his Friday starts. The rest of the pitching staff has been great, and the offense has been good enough, but they really need Kyle Wright to get right. Ole Miss came out on fire, but then really struggled against the best teams in the country in the Shriners College Classic. The offense in particular has struggled, but the pitching has been near perfect with four straight shutouts coming into this weekend’s series.
Friday (Wright – 5.40 vs. Parkinson – 2.52)
Saturday (Raby – 1.40 vs. Feigl – 3.91)
Sunday (Fellows – 1.00 vs. Holston – 2.45)
Prediction: Ole Miss 2-1
Missouri at Alabama
The normal Friday night starter for Alabama, Nick Eicholtz, did not pitch last weekend, so I’m not sure if he’ll be available for this series. Alabama needs all the help it can get facing a Missouri team that hasn’t lost since its first game of the year. Missouri leads the SEC with a team batting average of .332, and their pitching staff is middle of the pack. The Friday night starter for Missouri, Tanner Houck, is one of the best in the country. Meanwhile, Alabama has struggled mightily at times this year. Missouri has a chance to go on the road and pick up some big SEC wins this weekend.
Friday (Houck – 2.92 vs. Rukes – 1.04)
Saturday (Plassmeyer – 2.35 vs. Walters – 2.31)
Sunday (Toelken – 3.05 vs. TBD)
Prediction: Missouri 2-1
Georgia at LSU
This will be the only sweep I’ll predict this weekend as Georgia has been terrible and is the only SEC team with a losing record. Friday night starter Kevin Smith didn’t even record an out last weekend against Rider. Alex Lange and Jared Poche for LSU might be the best 1-2 punch in the nation. Poche has not given up a run – even an unearned run – all year. On top of that, LSU is third in the SEC in batting average. This one should be a cake walk for LSU.
Friday (Smith – 7.31 vs. Lange – 3.05)
Saturday (Locey – 7.47 vs. Poche – 0.00)
Sunday (Adkins – 2.08 vs. Walker – 2.14)
Prediction: LSU 3-0