I started to write this a couple of weeks ago but decided to wait until the World Series ended. I'm not sure why but I guess I wanted to see how our Super Regional loss stacked up against what happened in the final outcome of the World Series. We came into the season ranked in every collegiate baseball poll. That in itself was up-lifting after the utter disappointment of the 2015 season.
The early part of the season is usually loaded with semi-cream puffs that provide some competition but are teams we can overcome with more talent. Although we did stumble slightly we found out a lot about ourselves in the initial phase while going 7 and 2 before heading out to the west coast for what we thought would be a real test for ourselves. In Los Angeles we went 1-1-1 against USC, UCLA and Oklahoma which we felt pretty good about but as it turned out none of these teams even made the NCAA tournament field.
We come back from the west coast trip to host Oregon in a weekend series and sweep them. That felt so good but then we drop two non-conference games that we just shouldn't have lost. Mid week non conference games are the toughest because pitchers who probably will not start on SEC weekends have to step up and produce which in turn builds pitching depth from the bull-pen and that is something any contender must have.
Next we began our SEC schedule with an impressive series win at Vandy, followed by series wins over Georgia, TSUN and Florida at their house. We were clicking on all cylinders when Texas A&M came to town, but they pounced on us, forcing us to look inside of ourselves after being swept at home.
That would be the only series we lost all year as we bounce back by going into Baton Rouge and taking 2 out of 3 from LSU. We cruised through the remainder of the SEC schedule including ending with series sweeps of Missouri, Auburn and Arkansas.
We go to the SEC tournament, pick up the SEC Championship trophy, pounded Alabama's coach into resigning then bow out to get ready for regional play. Winning the regular season championship says much more to me because it is about the whole SEC body of work not where a team gets hot for 3 to 6 games. The teams that play on Sunday in Hoover usually do poorly in regional play because their pitching has been maxed out and cannot rest up.
We went back home and prepared for regional play, which we quickly muscled our way through, then waited on Arizona to come in for Super Regional play. There was all kind of talk about how great this team was or might be but after losing two 1 run games to Arizona everyone just walked away pretty much stunned. I will come back to this in a moment.
Looking back over the season as a whole I would have to say it was successful in many ways. It was a complete turn-around from the 2015 season (worst to first), we won 9 out of 10 SEC series, we were ranked in the top 10, top 5 and even #1 during the season. We won the SEC regular season championship for the first time in 30 years, we hosted regional and a Super Regional while attaining the #5 National Seed.
There were so many things to be proud of this baseball season despite the deflating loss to Arizona which managed to play for the national title against Coastal Carolina. Yeah we would loved to have been in Omaha and played for a national title ourselves but so would have Vanderbilt, LSU, South Carolina, A&M and Florida.
We accomplished as much, if not more than any other SEC team. Yes there is a lot to be proud of from this season and memories were made for a lifetime.