SEC Baseball Has Tournament Change

For the first time since 1996, the Southeastern Conference has made a major change to the format of its annual baseball tournament. The tournament, which has been held at Regions Park in Hoover for the past 14 years, will increase to 10 teams beginning with the 2012 tournament, which opens on May 22.

The tournament will continue to follow a format modeled on previous SEC Tournament and College World Series brackets. The 10 teams are seeded 1-10 with the two divisional champions guaranteed of the top two seeds and first-round byes. Games played from Tuesday thru Friday are double elimination with single elimination starting on Saturday.

The tournament field will include the top teams from the SEC's Eastern and Western Divisions plus eight at-large bids seeded 3-10 based on conference winning percentage.

In pre-season projections by editors and publihsers, Alabama is predicted to finish third in the SEC Western Division. Florida is picked as the overall champion with LSU expected to win the West. Once again this year, the Eastern Division is considered stronger than the Western Division.

The SEC has also announced the beginning of a Baseball Legends Program, modeled similarly after the popular ‘Legend's and ‘Greats' programs that surround the SEC Football Championship Game and the SEC Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments. Four former SEC baseball standouts will be honored on-site as part of the annual baseball tournament each year beginning in May of 2012.

A squad from the SEC Tournament has advanced to four consecutive National Championship Series in Omaha, winning the last three NCAA titles (LSU 2009; South Carolina 2010 and 2011). Nearly 100 first-round picks in the Major League Baseball Draft have played in SEC Tournament since 1991.

The 2012 event will be held May 22-27 at Regions Park. Tickets will go on sale in February.

The 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament drew nearly 100,000 fans. Six times time in the last nine years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance. The 2010 event drew close to 130,000 fans, an all-time record. The SEC is scheduled to keep its baseball tournament in Hoover at Regions Park through 2016.

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