Many possibilities remain with one week left in SEC softball play

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Florida softball coach Tim Walton at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Gainesville Sun Correspondent]

Austin Ward, GateHouse Media Group

With one week remaining in the regular season, every Southeastern Conference softball seed is still to be determined. The final weekend will feature a series between Alabama and LSU, with the winner of the series likely taking the regular-season SEC crown. The biggest shuffle in the standings could come from the teams currently sitting in sixth through 10th, as those five teams are only separated by two games.

Fighting for the top seed

Three teams enter the final weekend with the regular-season conference title and top seed in the SEC Tournament still a possibility.

Alabama: 47-6 (15-6)

Alabama was in prime position to clinch the top SEC seed before losing two of three to Kentucky in its last series. The path to the top seed is very simple for Alabama; the Tide clinches with a series win over LSU.

LSU: 40-12 (14-7)

LSU hasn’t been in conference play for two weeks, but its chances for a top seed were significantly impacted after dropping two of three to Arkansas. The Tigers have a couple ways to clinch the top seed. They would earn it with a sweep of Alabama or a series win if Ole Miss doesn’t sweep Georgia.

Ole Miss: 36-13 (13-7)

Ole Miss stayed in contention for the top seed with a big series win over Tennessee. The Rebels need one of their best weekends of the season and will need some help in order to get the top seed. LSU must win two of three and Ole Miss has to sweep Georgia if the Rebels were to earn the No. 1 seed. Any other scenario will make it impossible. Looking past that, Ole Miss only needs one win to clinch a first-round bye.

Eyes on the bye

Three other teams remain in contention to finish in the top four and clinch a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky: 32-19 (14-10)

Kentucky wrapped up its SEC slate a week early with a series win over Alabama, so the Wildcats are in a wait-and-see scenario in the final weekend. Kentucky will have its eyes on the Tennessee-Texas A&M series . Kentucky clinches a bye if Tennessee loses the series. In the case of a tie, it would depend on the highest-seeded common opponent. Kentucky wins if it’s Auburn.

Tennessee: 37-12 (12-9)

Tennessee took a big hit to its chances at a first-round bye after losing two of three to Ole Miss. The Volunteers can still clinch a bye with a sweep of last-place Texas A&M. If they win two of three, they tie with Kentucky, and it would depend on the highest-seeded common opponent. Tennessee wins if it’s Missouri.

Florida: 39-13 (11-10)

The preseason favorites to win the conference can still technically clinch a first-round bye, though it’s a long shot at best. In order for it to happen, the Gators must sweep Mississippi State (Friday-Sunday at home), Ole Miss must be swept by Georgia and Tennessee must lose at least two of three to last place Texas A&M.

Middle of the pack

Auburn: 35-15 (10-11)

Auburn is solely playing for a better seed. The Tigers cannot clinch a top seed, first-round bye or be forced to play in the play-in game. The same cannot be said for Arkansas, Auburn’s weekend opponent, so it will still be a good test for the team heading into the tournament.

Avoiding the play-in

All 13 teams will compete in the SEC Tournament in 2019, meaning there will be a play-in game between the No. 12 and No. 13 seeds to determine who plays the No. 5 seed in the first round that same day. The team that falls in that category will also play the equivalent of a road game, as tournament host Texas A&M will occupy one of the two bottom seeds.

Missouri: 29-21 (10-11)

After being swept by Mississippi State in its latest series, Missouri remains a possibility for the play-in game. The way out is very simple for the Tigers; they just need one win over South Carolina.

Georgia: 36-16 (9-12)

Georgia picked up a big series win over South Carolina to help its standing, but it still has a tall task with Ole Miss ahead. Arkansas and Mississippi State, both below the Bulldogs, would win a tiebreaker. Georgia can avoid the play-in with a series win. South Carolina or Mississippi State getting swept would also do the trick.

Arkansas: 35-17 (9-12)

Arkansas took a big blow with a series loss to last place Texas A&M, though the Razorbacks are in prime position to avoid the play-in game. By winning a series against LSU, Arkansas would win a tiebreaker with Mississippi State, therefore only needing one win over Auburn to avoid the bottom.

South Carolina: 35-14 (8-12)

Because of a rainout earlier in the season, South Carolina and Ole Miss will have one less conference game than every other team, making a tiebreaker irrelevant. The Gamecocks can avoid the play-in game with a series win over Missouri. If they take one game, Mississippi State will have to sweep Florida to overtake South Carolina.

Mississippi State: 30-19 (7-14)

The Bulldogs, led by two hitters who have hit 20-plus home runs, turned a lot of heads after sweeping Missouri. Mississippi State needs another good showing and some help to avoid the play-in. If Georgia or South Carolina get swept, the Bulldogs can do it with two wins at Florida. Otherwise, MSU would need a sweep along with a series loss from one of the two teams.

Locked in

Texas A&M: 27-22 (5-16)

Although the seed is still up in the air, A&M will be one of two teams in the play-in game. The Aggies showed fight in a series win over Arkansas. They also have single wins over the two SEC leaders, Alabama and LSU. A&M should be a tough test for any team, as it will be playing on its own dirt.

The SEC Tournament will be held May 8-11 at the Davis Diamond in College Station, Texas.

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