Who Will Miss Out on the SBC Tournament?–From the Bird’s Nest
With just three weeks remaining in the season, the biggest question in the league right now is who gets to go to San Marcos and who ends their season early?
South Alabama hasn't clinched the league title yet, but they have a four game lead with nine to play. While that's not an insurmountable lead, especially with Louisiana headed to Mobile next weekend, a lot has to happen for the Jags to be denied their second straight regular season title.
The biggest logjam is in the 7-10 spots. Only two of the five teams are going to continue their season in San Marcos, site of the Sun Belt Tournament.
With all that said, here's what's happening around the league this weekend.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN (27-18, 12-12) at SOUTH ALABAMA (35-12, 18-3)--It's going to be a big weekend at Eddie Stanky Field as the Jaguars' all time winningest coach, Steve Kittrell, has his #3 retired in Saturday ceremonies. The Jaguars, despite their big lead, have three big series remaining, starting with the Eagles. Georgia Southern sits in sixth place and still has its bye week yet to come (next week vs. Clemson), so they've got just six games left to do something about their slot. They could conceivably finish in either the 4 or 5 spot...or they could fall out entirely. They'll be favored at home against Georgia State on the final weekend, but getting swept here would not be a good thing. Evan Challenger and Chase Cohen will challenge the Jaguars, who have had trouble lately scoring runs against good arms. Georgia Southern is looking at a top five finish, perhaps, if they can win this series.
UT ARLINGTON (23-23, 9-12) at LITTLE ROCK (22-20, 13-8)--While everyone looks at the top as a two team race, let's not forget the Trojans, who have series against two of the bottom teams (ULM, Arkansas State) remaining after this week. That gives Chris Curry's club a chance to solidify a top three finish and maybe even higher if the two top teams falter. UTA is just a game ahead of the logjam for eighth place and every win is important for them. They're looking good as far as making the tournament is concerned, but they need good pitching performances this weekend against a team that can really swing the bat.
GEORGIA STATE (22-23, 8-13) at TEXAS STATE (24-22, 11-10)--Greg Frady's club has some tough series (Troy, at Georgia Southern) remaining in their quest to make the conference tournament. They're facing a solid Texas State rotation this weekend and they need their bats to be working. The Bobcats lost a series against Troy last weekend but are in good shape for a top five finish if they take care of their business. Georgia State, with their remaining schedule, has little margin for error. They're in as of today, but that could change in a hurry if they don't win a few.
UL MONROE (17-29, 7-14) at TROY (26-19, 11-10)--After Wednesday's loss to Louisiana Tech, Warhawks' coach Bruce Peddie said his team has hit "rock bottom." Well, they had better get up off the mat quickly. ULM is in last place entering this weekend. The good news is, they have a chance to better themselves, since Arkansas State and Appalachian State still have their bye week ahead of them and ULM has more chances to make up ground. The bad news is, their remaining schedule is Little Rock, Louisiana and this week against Troy. ULM will struggle to score against the Troy pitching staff and the Warhawks better find someone besides Brayden Bouchey to help them on the mound. The Trojans are hitting the ball better than they were early in the season. But they still rely on that weekend staff to carry them.
APPALACHIAN STATE (13-31, 8-16) at LOUISIANA (29-16, 14-7)--The Moutaineers are getting better. They've won three series this season and two of them are against the league's #1 and #3 teams. They've also won six one-run games and that tells me, despite their youth, they're not playing scared. It will be interesting to see how their freshman pitching rotation handles "Tigue" Moore Field this weekend. App has only three road wins this season and a Cajuns' team that has found its offense to go along with the league's best pitching staff could make it a taunting task. That being said, Louisiana has no margin for error. They have to be ready to play 27 innings of baseball. If the Cajuns still want to win a title, they need a sweep.
ARKANSAS STATE (20-23, 9-15) does its scoreboard watching this weekend. The Red Wolves missed a big opportunity last week losing two of three to App State. With Texas State and Little Rock on the horizon, they need to be rooting hard for Texas State, Troy, Little Rock and the Cajuns to win this weekend.