SEC Baseball 2002 Snap shot

VandyMania takes a look at the upcoming 2002 SEC baseball season.

 ALABAMA Crimson Tide

Alabama will open its 109th season of baseball Tuesday, Feb. 12 when the Crimson Tide hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide is one of 20 schools in NCAA history to win more than 2,000 college baseball games. Alabama pitcher Lance Cormier (RHP, Sr., Lafayette, La.) and catcher Jeremy Brown (C, Sr., Hueytown, Ala.) were both named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Preseason All-America team.

ARKANSAS Razorbacks

Since 1967 the Razorbacks are 29-6 in season openers, including a 23-3 record a Baum Stadium. Since head coach Norm DeBriyn took over in 1970, the Razorbacks have posted a 27-5 mark in season openers and a 22- 3 mark at home. This year's season opener against Missouri Southern marks the 13th time since 1967 the Razorbacks and Lions have met to begin the season. Arkansas owns a 12-0 record against the Lions and have not surrendered more than six runs to Missouri Southern in the series history. The Razorbacks will get an early chance to improve their play on the road from last season as six of their nine games during the month of February will be away from Baum Stadim.

AUBURN Tigers

Auburn head coach Steve Renfroe enters his second year on the Plains after guiding the Tigers to a 37-21 mark last season and a trip to the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. The Tigers finished the last seven weeks of SEC play in 2001 with a conference-best mark of 15-6. Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park will have a new look in 2002 after adding 630 chairback box seats down the right and left field lines in the off-season, bringing its new capacity to 4,096. The 2002 Auburn squad will be dominated by underclassmen with 24 of its 38 roster positions filled by freshmen or sophomores. The 2002 schedule features 28 games against 2001 NCAA Regional squads.

FLORIDA Gators

Florida opened its 88th season of baseball with a two-game series against Charleston Southern this past weekend...New head coach Pat McMahon coached in his first game Saturday...The Gators wore orange uniforms for the first time since 5/30/94 vs. Miami...UF won a 25-1 game on opening day as the Gators set school game records for hits (29), at bats (52) and opening day runs (25)...Ben Harrison tied a school record with five hits...LHP Keith Ramsey, last year's closer, started his first collegiate game on Saturday...Ryan Shealy became just the third player in UF history to start four consecutive opening days...On Sunday, Alex Hart threw 6.0 innings of no-hit baseball and set a new school record for most consecutive batters retired to start a game with 15...The former record was 13 by Rob Bonanno...His 15 straight batters retired ranked fourth on UF's all-time consecutive batters retired list...The record still stands at 20.

GEORGIA Bulldogs

Georgia opens its season on Feb. 22 at the inaugural Diamond Classic, a four-team event held in Savannah, Ga. Along with the Bulldogs, the field includes North Carolina, Connecticut and Armstrong State. Georgia will play each school once, and the tournament is slated to be televised by Comcast Cable Network. The tournament will be held at Grayson Stadium, the minor league home of the Savannah Sand Gnats. The Bulldogs home opener will be Tuesday, Feb. 26 versus Mercer. Georgia will play an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves on Feb. 28 at the Braves spring training headquarters in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Following the Braves game, Georgia returns to Athens where it will begin a season-long nine-game homestand.

KENTUCKY Wildcats

Kentucky Coach Keith Madison needs only three victories to amass 700 for his career. Madison, now in his 24th season at the helm of the Wildcats, owns a career record of 696-566-5 (.552), all at Kentucky. Among the current SEC coaches, he is second only to Mississippi State's Ron Polk (1,124) in career victories. · The Wildcats, now in their 106th year of baseball, will move into their new den when they play host to Miami (Ohio) on Friday, Mar. 1. The state-of-the-art $4.2 million Cliff Hagan Stadium will feature 2,000 chair-back seats (3,000 capacity), a two-level press box, and a "Big Blue Monster" to be built in right field after the 2002 season.

LSU Tigers

The LSU Fighting Tigers enter the 2002 season ranked No. 5 in the country by Collegiate Baseball magazine and No. 7 by Baseball America magazine. The Tigers are seeking LSU's 12th College World Series berth in the last 17 seasons. LSU has made 11 CWS trips (1986-87-89-90-91-93-94-96-97-98- 2000) in the past 16 years. LSU is one of only 10 schools to have made at least 11 CWS appearances in the 55-year history of the event. The Tigers have won the CWS in five of the last 11 seasons (1991-93-96-97-00). LSU attempts in 2002 to win its seventh overall Southeastern Conference championship in 13 seasons and its ninth Western Division title in 11 seasons.

OLE MISS Rebels

The 2002 season will mark Ole Miss' second year under Head Coach Mike Bianco. Last season, the Bianco guided the Rebels to one of the best seasons in school history with a 39-23-1 record and a berth in the NCAA New Orleans Regional ... Ole Miss is ranked in all three of the major college baseball pre-season polls. The Rebels are ranked No. 14 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 18 by Baseball Weekly and No. 20 by Baseball America ... Senior RHP Pete Montrenes was listed as the Projected SEC Pitcher of the Year in Collegiate Baseball's 2002 season preview issue.

MISSISSIPPI STATE Bulldogs

Mississippi State opens its preseason drills Feb. 4 in advance of the seasonopening National Bank of Commerce Classic Feb. 22-24 at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs entertain the UAB Blazers and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second annual NBC Classic ... Senior right-hander Tanner Brock, a first-team 2001 All-SEC selection, has been tabbed by Baseball America among the SEC's top 10 prospects for the 2002 professional baseball draft ... Mississippi State is one of four SEC teams ranked in the top 25 of all four preseason collegiate polls.

SOUTH CAROLINA Gamecocks

he South Carolina baseball team begins the 2002 season on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. vs. Charleston Southern at Sarge Frye Field. The Gamecocks are coming off a 49-20 season in 2001, in which USC reached the NCAA Super Regional for the second consecutive year. South Carolina enters the 2002 season as the preseason favorite in the SEC Eastern Division. South Carolina is ranked in all three preseason polls conducted. The Gamecocks also feature a preseason all-american candidate in shortstop Drew Meyer.

TENNESSEE Volunteers

Tennessee opened the 2002 season last weekend at Miami, dropping two of three to the defending national champions. The Vols travel to face Arizona State in a three-game series this weekend at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz., spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. UT and ASU split two games in Knoxville last season. Tennessee won 9-5 in 10 innings, while ASU took a 15-1 decision in the second game. Brandon Hopkins, Javi Herrera and Ryan Moffett have each hit safely in all three games. UT will open at home against the Bowling Green State Falcons, Feb. 15-17.

VANDERBILT Commodores

The Commodores open the 104th season in school history, Feb. 12, at home against Tennessee Tech. Vanderbilt christens the newly completed $5.8 million Hawkins Field in the opener. Roy Mewbourne enters his 30th season as a collegiate head coach needing two victories to reach the 900- win mark for his career. He should also claim his 650th win at Vanderbilt in 2002. Senior first baseman/catcher Sean Luellwitz returns after leading VU in seven offensive categories a year ago, as does senior outfielder Karl Nonemaker, a first team All-SE


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