Tide Ranks Low

Last year Alabama's baseball team did better than expected, finishing behind Southeastern Conference Western Division co-champions LSU and Ole Miss for third in the division. Alabama Coach Jim Wells has to hope his Crimson Tide can exceed expectations again this year as the coaches have predicted Bama to finish fourth in the division.

Alabama did receive one first place vote to win the Western Division. >p> The Florida Gators are predicted to win the 2006 SEC baseball championship, as voted by the league's 12 baseball coaches in the 15th annual preseason SEC poll.

The Gators, ranked No. 2 nationally in the preseason polls following last season's national runner-up finish, seek to capture their 11th SEC Championship, having won the title three times in the past 10 seasons (1996, 1998 & 2005). Florida returns seven position starters and 10 of 14 pitchers from their 2005 squad which advanced to the national championship round of the College World Series.

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

In the overall SEC Champion vote, Florida received eight of the 12 championship votes in the poll. LSU received three votes while Arkansas received one.

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 Eastern Division, Florida was the clear favorite with all possible 66 points. South Carolina came in second with 55 points and Tennessee third with 46 points.

Mississippi State, the 2005 SEC Tournament Champion, was the predicted winner in the Western Division with a total of 54 points. LSU was second with 51, while Arkansas finished third with 49.

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.

A total of seven SEC clubs are ranked in the preseason top 25 polls. The 2006 season gets underway this weekend with Auburn hosting VMI and Tennessee traveling to Florida Atlantic in a pair of three-game series. The conference schedule is set to begin the weekend of March 17-19. The 2006 SEC Tournament will be held May 24-28 at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Birmingham. The 2005 SEC Baseball Tournament drew 119,580 fans, including 12,290 for the championship game. Nearly 1.5 million fans attended games in the SEC last season, the fourth year in a row the SEC has topped the one million mark in attendance, leading the nation once again in that category.

Below is a complete look at the coaches' vote:

Eastern Division

Team Pts. '05 SEC Rec/Finish

1. Florida (11) 66 20-10 / 1st

2. S. Carolina (1) 55 16-14 / 3rd

3. Tennessee 46 18-11 / 2nd

4. Vanderbilt 30 13-17 / 4th

5. Georgia 29 12-17 / 5th

6. Kentucky 17 7-22 / 6th

Western Division

Team Pts. '05 SEC Rec/Finish

1. Miss. State (5) 54 13-16 / 4th

2. LSU (3) 51 18/12 / t1st

3. Arkansas (3) 49 13-17 / t5th

4. Alabama (1) 41 17-13 / 3rd

5. Ole Miss 34 18-12 / t1st

6. Auburn 17 13-17 / t5th

( ) - First Place Votes

SEC Champion: Florida (8); LSU (3); Arkansas (1)

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