The first (of many) SEC previews is out and, as partly expected, Auburn doesn't register a blip. Baseball America has 9 teams making the NCAA Tournament: Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana State, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Kentucky.
That means, according to Baseball America, only Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee will be home come tournament time (but one of those will make Hoover)
Wait. Back up. Kentucky? Why Kentucky? Basically it comes down an infield without question marks and optimism:
Kentucky has plenty of reasons for optimism, from athletic 6-foot-4, 215-pound speedster OF Brian Adams (who doubles as a wide receiver on the football team, with eight career catches in two seasons); to LHPs Taylor Rogers and Jerad Grundy, both solid prospects, with Rogers coming off an all-star turn in the Cape Cod League; to a veteran infield led by Jr. 1B/C Luke Maile (.282/.361/.525, 9 HR) and Sr. 3B Thomas McCarthy (.371/.436/.581). In most leagues, that would get it done, but the Wildcats aren't in most leagues. Coach John Cohen-now at Mississippi State-won 44 games twice in three seasons from 2006-2008, but his successor, Gary Henderson, has yet to take Kentucky to Hoover for the SEC tournament, not to mention regional play. But the coaches believe this is the best team they have had since 2008, and that it will be a regionals team if its infield defense holds up.
Those last lines are the more confusing. Kentucky hasn't been to Hoover, much less to the NCAAs since Henderson took over. He's had 3 seasons to get them there and talent let over from Cohen.
I'm not entirely knocking Kentucky (well, maybe I am) but the Wildcats play an identical conference schedule to Auburn with the only minor differences being that Big Blue gets Alabama & Ole Miss at home and travels to Starkville & Tennessee (AU does the opposite) . The big difference is in the non-conference schedule.
Auburn's non-con include Arizona, Purdue, South Alabama, Samford, and Missouri. Kentucky's has Wofford, Buffalo, and Illinois-Chicago. Boyd's World has Auburn's ISR at 10. Kentucky's at 48. They might win more games, but the overall RPI is going to be a big plus for Auburn.
In other (slightly better news), the Auburn baseball team will appear on TV Seven times this season:
- March 6th vs Alabama (7pm/CSS)
- April 6th at Alabama (7pm/Fox Sports South)
- April 7th at Alabama (3pm/CSS)
- April 13th at Vandy (6pm/CSS)
- April 21st vs Carolina (3pm/Fox Sports South)
- May 4th at Georgia (6pm/Fox Sports South)
- May 10th at Arkansas (6:30pm/ESPNU)
This doesn't include any midweek games that may be picked up (AU/Troy was picked up by CSS last year) or any other late changes that may occur.