Tracking the Sun Belt Baseball Seedings – From the Bird’s Nest
Two weeks to go and still not much is settled regarding the seedings for the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament beginning a little over two weeks from now at Eddie Stanky Field in Mobile, AL.
But, while exact seedings still have to be decided, where the teams will fall in the brackets are starting to become clearer.
And, we know this:
The Bracket for the tournament as posted on the league website is only good if South Alabama finishes either first or eighth.
The Jaguars have the right to select the time for their first game, which means they will play their first round game Wednesday at 7:30pm. . The bracket will be adjusted accordingly. Let's assume, based on standings as of now, the Jaguars finish sixth. That would necessitate a flip in the bracket, meaning the 1,4,5 and 8 seeds would be in the early session for the first day, while the #2,3,6 and 7 seeds would be in the second session.
The brackets were flipped last year as well. And, on the first day, the #4 and #5 seeds played in the first game of the day, while #1 faced #8 in the second game at 12:30. If you're a Cajuns' fan you should take notice. I expect that will happen again this year.
Here's where we are with two weeks to go:
LOUISIANA (20-4)- At South Alabama, home against UL Monroe--This one is the only thing that's pretty much decided. The Cajuns need just one more win to clinch the #1 seed for the tournament. They've got six games in which to do it.
ARKANSAS STATE (15-9) Troy at home, at UALR--While there's no guarantee of a sweep of either series, it would be a big surprise if the Red Wolves don't take at least two both weekends. Troy is playing like they can't wait for the season to be over and, while UALR gets the Red Wolves at home, the Trojans are 7-17 in the league for a reason. If it comes down to a tie for second with Texas State, the Red Wolves have the tie-breaker.
TEXAS STATE (15-9)--UALR at home, at UT Arlington--The Bobcats have put themselves in position for the runnerup spot in the league, but their road is tougher than Arkansas State's. The Bobcats should take care of their business at UALR, but that road series at UTA could be dicey. Texas State swept the Mavericks in the first weekend, but this isn't the same UTA team. They don't have the tie-breaker against Arkansas State, so they'll have to be really, really good to get to the #2 spot.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (13-11)--At UT Arlington, Georgia State at home-While finishing third or second isn't out of the question, the likelihood is WKU and UTA are battling it out for who gets to wear the home uniforms in the first round of the tournament. The winner of the series this weekend is the favorite to do so. Neither team can afford to get swept, however. With Georgia State coming in the following weekend, WKU has the schedule advantage.
UT ARLINGTON (13-11)--WKU, Texas State, both at home. Both series will be tough, but at least the Mavericks are playing at home. All six of those games will be dicey regardless of location, however. WKU can swing it and has one of the league's better pitchers in Justin Hageman. Texas State has the arms to cool off some hot UTA bats. 3-3 might be good enough for fourth, provided UTA wins the series against WKU. But the Mavericks have to make sure the weekend isn't a disaster.
SOUTH ALABAMA (10-13)-Louisiana at home, at Troy--The Jaguars are sitting in sixth place and I think it might be hard to move either up or down. The Jags will obviously have their hands full this weekend. Troy is a rivalry series and it's on the road so nothing is certain there. But the Jags are playing much better ball than the Trojans are right now. With USA 2.5 games out of fifth place, it's going to be hard to move up. But it's not likely they move down past seventh, either.
GEORGIA STATE (9-15)--at UL Monroe, at WKU--Georgia State has won their last two series, both at home, against Arkansas State and South Alabama, to get back into the tournament picture. But now the road beckons, and the Panthers are 1-8 in road conference games. They are tied with UL Monroe for seventh place and will play there this weekend. It's possible the loser of that series could still get into the tournament, but that would require relying on Troy's opponents. Both Georgia State and ULM have a rugged final series, so this one could decide everything.
ULM (9-15)--Georgia State at home, at Louisiana. Credit goes to Bruce Peddie, who, as the interim coach, has made this team competitive, something they weren't earlier in the season. In fact, the Warhawks are 9-9 in the league since the change...including 7-2 at Warhawk FIeld. That's a big advantage going into this weekend. If ULM gets two out of three here, ULM looks to be in good shape. If ULM wins the series AND takes at game at Louisiana, they'll be almost certain to spend some time in Mobile.
TROY (8-15)--At Arkansas State, South Alabama at home--The Trojans got swept last weekend at Texas State and if the tournament started today, the defending regular season champions would be on the outside looking in. It won't get any easier in Jonesboro this weekend. Troy would love for either Georgia State or ULM to sweep this weekend. If that doesn't happen, the Trojans almost have to win a game at A-State and then win the final series against a team that right now is playing better baseball than they are. This team hasn't shown much life the last few weeks. We're about to find out if they're ready for the season to end. Right now, it sure looks like it.
UALR (7-17)--At Texas State, Arkansas State at home. The Trojans sit 1.5 games out of ninth and two games out of a tournament spot. And, they get to close the season against two of the top pitching teams in the league. The Trojans have lost six league games by two runs or less, or in extra innings. They need to win at least five of their last six and hope a couple of teams ahead of them crumble. Not likely to happen. Looks like Scott Norwood's club will be absent...again.