SEC Coaches Tab Tide Third In West

When Alabama opens its baseball season Friday hosting St. Louis, the Crimson Tide will do so with a little more respect. Not only has Bama been ranked 21st in the nation in pre-season college baseball polls, but Southeastern Conference coaches have Alabama in the upper echelon of the league.

Alabama and St. Louis will open the college baseball season at 6 p.m. Friday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The teams will also play Saturday and Sunday.

SEC Coaches have made their pre-season selections for the 23rd consecutive year, and the Crimson Tide of Coach Mitch Gaspard is tied with Texas A&M for third in the SEC Western Division.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are predicted to win the 2014 SEC title by a one-vote margin. LSU and Mississippi State received four votes each in th4e overall vote by the 14 SEC coaches.

The Gamecocks, ranked No. 14 nationally in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, are after their fourth SEC baseball title. LSU and Mississippi State, are ranked second and fourth in the USA Today poll respectively.

LSU has 15 championships and Mississippi State 10 (the most recent in 1989). Vanderbilt also received one vote for the championship.

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.

For some reason, the SEC has some sports in which teams compete in divisions (football, for instance) and some in which there is no divisional play (i.e., men's basketball). Baseball is still in divisions.

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

In the West, LSU had a one point advantage (84-83) over Mississippi State. (Points were compiled on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams. There were 91 possible points. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion. Alabama and Texas A&M tied for third with 58, followed by Arkansas 44, Ole Miss 35, and Auburn 21.

South Carolina received 86 points in the Eastern Division. Vanderbilt was second with 82, Florida third with 69, followed by Kentucky (47) fourth, Tennessee (39) fifth, Georgia (38) sixth, and Missouri (24) seventh.

In addition to regular season play beginning Friday, conference competition will begin March 14. The SEC Tournament will be played at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium May 20-25. The 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament drew over 134,000 fans, a new record high for the event. Eight times in the last 11 years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in attendance.

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