Tide Picked Fourth As Baseball Begins

LSU is ranked second in the nation in pre-season baseball polls. The Tigers are also favored to repeat as Southeastern Conference champion. But the margin was underwhelming. The league's 12 coaches gave five votes to LSU, four to Florida, and three to Arkansas.

Last year, Alabama went to the final weekend of SEC play with a chance to win the Western Division championship. Instead, LSU and Ole Miss tied for first in the West with 20-10 records and Bama was third at 18-11.

This year the Crimson Tide of first year Coach Mitch Gaspard was picked to finish fourth in the SEC West.

The coaches picked the Eastern Division in the same order it finished last season, 1 through 6. That is Florida (receiving nine first place votes and 64 of a possible 66 points), South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt (receiving one first place vote), Kentucky and Tennessee.

In the Western Division, LSU was first with eight votes for first and 63 points,Arkansas second with four votes for first, followed by Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State.

LSU will be seeking its league-leading 15th SEC championship and will also try to repeat as national champion. The Tigers return eight position players with experience and 10 pitchers.

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.

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.

The 2010 season gets underway this Friday, although Alabama will not begin playing until Saturday. The Crimson Tide will host South Alabama at 2 p.m. CST at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The conference schedule is set to begin the weekend of March 19-21. The 2010 SEC Tournament will be held May 26-30 at Regions Park in Hoover. The SEC Tournament has drawn over 100,000 fans five of the last eight years. An NCAA-record of nearly 1.9 million fans attended games in the SEC last season, the eighth year in a row the SEC has topped the one million mark in attendance, leading the nation once again in that category.

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