LSU finished the regular season by sweeping No. 2-ranked Alabama at Alex Box Stadium last weekend. The Tigers head into the post-season with a38-17 overall record (19-10 SEC) and in second place in the West division of the conference, a half-game behind Alabama. The Crimson Tide claimed the title in the West despite being swept by LSU, but was denied the overall conference championship. South Carolina claimed the SEC
crown by taking three games from Georgia over the weekend.
Auburn completed its regular season 34-22 (15-15 SEC) and in third place in the West. The Plainsmen lost two of three games to Arkansas in Fayetteville over the weekend to give the Razorbacks a late berth in the tournament.
"We've played our best baseball the last several weeks. (Our team) is ready to go," Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said. "We've got two freshmen back that we didn't have for the first two and a half months of the season. One of them (righty closer Steven Register) has gone 5-0 in the last three weeks out of the pen, and the other kid (outfielder Matt
Grooms) has swung the bat awfully well. So we're looking forward to going to Hoover and playing in this tournament, the best tournament this side of Omaha."
"We're playing better ball late than we did earlier, especially in the conference," LSU coach Smoke Laval said. "We seem to have our health back under us to solidify lineups and pitching rotations."
Renfroe plans to start sophomore right-hander Colby Paxton against LSU. Paxton had a rough start last Friday against Arkansas, allowing four runs on four hits with a pair of walks in only 2/3 of an inning. The Razorbacks went on to win the game 18-5. Paxton defeated LSU last April 6, allowing three runs on nine hits in six innings of work. LSU took the series, however, winning both the Friday and Sunday games.
Sophomore lefty Lane Mestepey will likely start for LSU, who will work with four days' rest after throwing a complete-game shutout of the Tide in the first half of Saturday's double-header.
"It's really a new season," said Laval. "You start out, then you try to get ready for SEC (play). Then you play the SEC and it comes down to the last three weekends against good clubs. Now you're in a new season in the SEC Tournament. The hopefully you move on and its another new season for a regional, and so forth and so on."
"I think we're playing better baseball (lately)," Renfroe reiterated. "Seven of the last 10 games we've won have all been last-at-bat and come-from-behind wins. So that's what's going to benefit us."
"It's been interesting with this club as the season unfolded, about how we grew and matured," Laval said. "Here again, it's going to be about if we can keep that intensity and focus up, because a lot of our guys haven't been (in that situation) before. I think that's what's going to be fun and exciting for the Tigers."
Tickets for the 2002 SEC Tournament are $90 for reserved box seats, $15 for a single-game reserved seat, $48 for a Dr Pepper general admission 6-pack. A limited number of single game tickets will be available during the week of the tournament. Call 800-240-2300 or 225-933-1280 to purchase tickets.
SEC Baseball Tournament
May 22-26, Hoover Metropolitan Stadium
Wednesday, May 22
Game 1: #6 Georgia vs. #3 Florida, 10 a.m.
Game 2: #7 Mississippi State vs. #2 Alabama, 1 p.m.
Game 3: #5 Auburn vs. #4 LSU, 5 p.m.
Game 4: #8 Arkansas vs. #1 South Carolina
Thursday, May 23
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 5, 1 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 5 p.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 8 p.m.
Friday, May 24
Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 5, 3 p.m.
Game 10: Loser Game 8 vs. Winner Game 6, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 25
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 10 a.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10, 1:30 p.m.
Game 13: (if necessary): Loser Game 11 vs. Winner Game 11, 5 p.m.
Game 14: (if necessary): Loser Game 12 vs. Winner Game 12, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 26
Championship Game: Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14, 3 p.m.
All times Central, and are approximate. Games start 30 minutes after the
conclusion of the previous game.