Tigers prepare for SEC tourney

As always, the race to the finish line for the SEC baseball title came down to the wire.

Heading into the final weekend, as many as five teams were in contention for the outright league title. By weekend's end, very little had changed as the Florida Gators captured the league crown outdistancing LSU by one game. Florida swept the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville while LSU managed just two of three wins at Mississippi State to claim the SEC Western Division crown.

Tennessee finished second the SEC Eastern Division and Ole Miss edged out Alabama by a game to finish as the western division's runner up. Florida and LSU enter the SEC Tournament as first and second seeds respectively while the Volunteers are the third seed and the Rebels are tabbed fourth.

Alabama is the fifth seed followed by South Carolina, Mississippi State and Arkansas. Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn and Kentucky will all miss the SEC Tournament. However, the Tigers could likely get a bid to an NCAA Regional.

LSU (38-18, 18-12 SEC) will have little time to rest as they face the same Mississippi State (36-20, 13-16) Bulldogs Wednesday morning at 10 .m. in the opening game of the SEC Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama. The winner will play at 5 p.m. on Thursday while the loser will play again at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning against the winner or loser of the Tennessee-South Carolina game.

Here's a look at how the regular season ended on Sunday in the SEC.

South Carolina 12, Kentucky 1 COLUMBIA, SC -- South Carolina backed strong pitching by sophomore left-hander Arik Hempy with a 14 hit attack Sunday to defeat Kentucky 12-1 and end the Southeastern Conference regular season with a three game sweep.

Florida 6, Vanderbilt 3 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 12 Florida clinched its first Southeastern Conference championship since 1998 with a 6-3 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon at Hawkins Field. Tied at 2-2 entering the ninth, the Gators plated four runs on one hit, three walks, two wild pitches and an error to seize the lead and pave the way for the program's 10th SEC crown and 18th Eastern Division title.

Georgia 4, Tennessee 1 KNOXVILLE, TENN. -- Eleventh-ranked Tennessee had a chance to win the Southeastern Conference regular season title Sunday but the Georgia Bulldogs made sure there would be no celebration by posting a 4-1 win at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

Alabama 11, Auburn 9 AUBURN, Ala. -- Alabama's five-run seventh was enough to out-last Auburn as the Crimson Tide held on for an 11-9 victory on Sunday at Plainsman Park. Auburn crushed four home runs in the game, including two in the first inning.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Freshman shortstop Zack Cozart hit two home runs and had four RBI as No. 17 Ole Miss defeated No. 18 Arkansas 9-1 to complete a three-game sweep of this weekend's Southeastern Conference series Sunday afternoon, in front of 7,270 at Baum Stadium. The victory secured Ole Miss a piece of its first SEC Western Division title since 1982, as the Rebels finished the regular season tied with LSU for first place in the SEC West with 18-12 conference marks.

Patterson up for several awards

Senior left fielder Ryan Patterson has made the short list for a number of postseason awards. Patterson who is batting a team-high .379 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs, has been named a semifinalist for both the prestigious Howser and Wallace Awards.

The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball's most prestigious award.

Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser's life. The membership of the NCBWA will choose the Xanthus-Dick Howser Trophy based on three rounds of voting. The 2005 winner will announced at the College World Series in Omaha on Friday, June 17 at 10:00 a.m. CDT.

The Brooks Wallace Award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate baseball player and will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Network, and its' award-winning family of regional affiliate networks, as well as Fox College Sports.

The CBF National Selection Committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals, with an announcement in Omaha on Thursday, June 16, 2005. The finalists, with their head coaches and parents, will be invited to Lubbock, TX, for a golf tournament and a schedule of related activities, in addition to the award banquet. The trophy and winners will become part of the permanent display in the College Baseball Hall of Fame Museum under construction in Lubbock.

The annual award banquet will be held on Thursday, June 30th at 7 p.m., and hosted at the United Spirit Arena, on the campus of Texas Tech University.

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