Tide Baseball Picked Third In SEC West

The Alabama baseball team of Coach Mitch Gaspard and all other Southeastern Conference teams are scheduled to open the 2012 season Friday. A mild winter has led to good practice opportunities, although the Deep South has not been spared a blast of cold to start this week.

Alabama will host Florida Atlantic in games Friday 7:05p.m.), Saturday (2:05 p.m.), and Sunday (12:05 p.m.) to open the season at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Meanwhile, SEC coaches have made their annual prediction on the season and have selected the Florida Gators to repeat as 2012 SEC champion. This is the 21st annual poll of the league's head coaches.

Alabama was picked third in the Western Division behind Arkansas and LSU.

The SEC Coaches Poll closely resembled the poll of Scout.com publishers at SEC schools announced earlier this year.

The Gators, ranked No. 1 nationally in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll, seek to capture their 13th SEC Championship. UF returns seven position starters and nine pitchers from its 2011 squad which claimed a share of the overall SEC Championship and advanced to the College World Series finals versus South Carolina.

Since 1996, the SEC?has named a regular season champion and a tournament champion. Prior to 1996, the tournament champion was considered the SEC Champion.

In addition to picking a preseason SEC champion, the league's head coaches voted a predicted order of finish in the SEC Eastern and Western Divisions.

In the Western Division, Arkansas was the favorite with 64 of a possible 66 points. LSU came in second with 58 points and Alabama third with 38. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Auburn rounded out the division.

Florida was the favorite in the Eastern Division with all 66 points. South Carolina, the two-time defending National Champions, was second with 56, while Georgia finished third with 42. Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Tennessee trailed.

Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.

The 2012 SEC regular season begins Friday with conference play set to begin Friday, March 16. The SEC Tournament will be played at Regions Park in Hoover May 22-27.

The 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament drew nearly 100,000 fans. Six times 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.

An NCAA-record of over two million fans attended games in the SEC last season, the 10th year in a row the SEC has topped the one million mark in attendance, leading the nation once again in that category by a wide margin.

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