I’m just going to go ahead and let it be known that, here at Check Swing, we like to pride ourselves on a short-term memory when it comes to unpleasant events. So, I’m going to do us all a favor and get the fact that State lost last weekend’s series out of the way in the first paragraph.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about this weekend’s upcoming matchups! There are currently nine SEC teams in the top 25 (this is your weekly reminder that D1Baseball.com is the official Top 25 of Check Swing. S/o Kendall Rodgers), keeping even with last week’s tally. There are four(!) top 25 matchups this week across the league with one of those being a showdown between #4 and #5. Exciting stuff, I know.
South Carolina (2-7) vs Alabama (2-7)
This series was slated to kick off on Thursday but due to some inclement weather, the Gamecocks and Tide will be looking at a Friday double-header with both teams looking to stay out of the basement of their respective divisions. Both teams are coming off of series losses, but South Carolina was able to take game two of the series to avoid the sweep. The Gamecocks were also able to shock #3 NC State on Tuesday, so we’ll if that provides them a spark moving forward. Name of the game at this point for the Gamecocks seems to be “don’t get swept,” which is a more than respectable gameplan, in my opinion.
On the other hand, Alabama was dismissed by Florida this past weekend and is riding a four-game slide into this weekend’s series with a loss on Tuesday to Troy. The Tide is looking at a must win series in order to stay in the mix in the deepest league in the nation.
#14 Arkansas (6-3) vs #15 Auburn (6-3)
In one of the marquee matchups this weekend, Arkansas is looking to bounce back from a series loss to Ole Miss in Auburn. After winning the series opener, the Razorbacks have now dropped three straight after a humbling 17-7 defeat at the hands of Little Rock. A series win over Auburn would put the breaks on Arkansas’ slide down the rankings after falling from #8 last week.
Jack Owen is still leading Auburn through the season with a ridiculous 0.31 ERA, which accounts for 3rd best in the nation. The Tigers are looking to separate themselves from the middle of the pack in the SEC West with what could be an impressive series win over what has been one of the more consistently good teams in the league this year. A midweek loss to Georgia Tech didn’t do Auburn any favors for bringing any momentum into the weekend, so a series win could help push the squad through the midseason hump.
#8 Mississippi St (5-4) vs Tennessee (3-6)
Everyone’s favorite baseball squad is putting a tough series loss behind them this weekend (sorry, I said I wasn’t going to talk about it) as THE Mississippi State University looks to climb back into top 5 consideration against a team that boasts the nation’s best team ERA. The Dawgs had a good recovery game in a midweek offensive marathon versus Louisiana-Monroe that featured an extremely casual 10-run fourth inning. STAT CHECK: State still leads the nation in doubles, are second in hits and sit at fifth nationally in runs scored. Lots of firepower on this team.
Tennessee’s crowning achievement thus far is their NCAA-leading team ERA (2.37), which has been absurdly good all season. The Volunteers desperately need a big series win in jump back into the mix in the East. The number one concern for Tennessee is their inability to score runs. The Vols have tallied a double-digit run total in only one game since March 9th against Fresno St, which was a 15-run effort over South Carolina two weeks ago. I just hope they don’t figure it out this weekend, though.
#5 Vanderbilt (6-3) vs #4 Georgia (7-2)
The series of the weekend in the SEC this week takes place in Athens, where Vanderbilt is looking to make a statement against the best team in the SEC though this point of the season, at least according to their conference record. The Commodores offense is led by Austin Martin, who currently holds the #4 spot nationally for batting average with a .449. Picking up a series win this weekend likely puts the Commodores back into top 3 consideration.
The other Bulldogs are on a warpath through SEC play right now and they’re even reaching outside the league to beat up on teams, beating #23 Clemson on Tuesday. Georgia matches up well against the Commodores, as they roll out the fifth-best staff ERA in the country, holding a 2.54 mark though the first three weeks of SEC play. A series win would almost guarantee UGA a one-spot promotion into top 3 in the rankings, as well, and would put a firm grasp on the East as we head towards the halfway point of league play.
Kentucky (1-8) vs Missouri (3-5-1)
There can’t be anyone in the league that wants to hammer the rest button on the season more than Kentucky does. After starting off the season with three-straight series’ versus what are probably three of the best teams in the SEC in A and M, LSU and Georgia, they finally get a more manageable opponent in Mizzou. No worries though, it’s a road trip to Columbia so Kentucky will be served no favors as they try to steal one from a team that desperately needs all the wins they can get.
Last weekend delivered Missouri one of the stranger series outcomes of 2019 thus far, where they had an even split with A and M, winning one, losing one and the rubber match resulting in a draw. The game three result was due to a rule that mandates schools to be homeward bound by a certain time on Sundays so that the student-athletes can be home and all tucked in their beds in order to get a full night’s rest for class the next day. Thank you for caring about the wellbeing of the players, NCAA, you’re fighting the good fight. This weekend delivers three very winnable games directly to the Tigers’ doorstep and they’ll need to collect all three to put themselves back towards the top of the division.
#21 Florida (4-5) vs #18 Ole Miss (5-4)
I have nothing to say about either team or this series. If you want to know how they fared last weekend or what’s at stake this week, you’ll need do your own research. NEXT!
#9 A and M (6-2-1) vs #13 LSU (6-3)
A and M currently holds the top spot in the West, aided by the fact there was no conclusion reached in their most recent SEC bout. The Aggies faced #12 Texas in a midweek rivalry showdown, defeating the Longhorns to give the squad a healthy dose of feel-good as they head into a battle for first in the division. A and M has the nation’s seventh best team ERA at 2.61 and they’ll need everyone on their stuff this weekend against a team that has outscored their opponents 32-7 in their last four games.
After dropping a nail biter in game one vs State last weekend, LSU made statements in the following two games, delivering a bit of a surprising series loss to the then-#2 Bulldogs in Starkville. (Damnit, I brought it up again. That’s on me.) Taking the series at home this weekend would likely push LSU into first in the West and back into top 10 in the rankings, making this the most intriguing series of the week outside of the top 5 matchup in Athens.
That wraps up this week’s edition of Check Swing, check back next Friday for more scores, notes and exclusive previews of action across the nation’s best conference for college baseball!