An enormous weekend lies ahead for the No. 1 Ole Miss Rebels and No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers in baseball, but before turning attention there, the SEC’s first weekend showed fans a little bit of what to expect this season.
Now, three games over a 56-game season is a microcosm of what could unfold, though in SEC play, every series represents 10 percent of your conference games. The series are enormously important, especially if you’re a ranked team on the road.
With that in mind, here’s a few takeaways from the first weekend of SEC play.
- Tennessee pretty much steamrolled South Carolina in Knoxville right after the Gamecocks stunned previous No. 1 Texas, and now the Vols have hit more than 50 home runs in 21 games this season. Now, there’s some outliers because they scored like a billion runs against Iona, but it seems UT might be a true Omaha contender this year. USC, it’s not looking good at 10-10 on the year and zero wins in true road games.
- Vanderbilt blew through Missouri to the shock of literally no one. Unfortunately, it looks like the ‘Dores will be headed to a postseason appearance and probably another feature story about its idiot king fan, the Whistler, will be in the can at ESPN by end of April. Another year in the SEC, another fail by Mizzou it seems so far.
- Arkansas handled Kentucky and swept the ‘Cats, ho-hum. The games were in Fayetteville, which is a very difficult road trip, and it seemed like UK was at least somewhat competitive in the Sunday game. SEC squads heading to Lexington might not be able to come away with a sweep this year around.
- The SEC West is going to be an absolute slugfest this season as every team won at least one conference game in the first weekend. TAMU won a series over LSU, Ole Miss over Auburn, State took one from Georgia, and Alabama taking one from Florida. These are going to be competitive series every weekend across the board. Right now, Bama seems to be the weakest link, but it’s obviously early.
- My thought so far is that pitching is an absolute premium, and offenses are rolling early on which is pretty surprising. Typically, pitching has an advantage early on as hitters see new arms who were not in the league before, and there’s a jump in talent from non-conference to conference play that takes some adjustment. I think if there is a few squads who can find dominant Friday and Saturday pitching, they are going to go very far this year, and unfortunately for Ole Miss fans, this is not a great trend to see so far.
OK, the Cup will be back with a Tennessee-Ole Miss preview ahead of the biggest college baseball series in the country this weekend. Oxford should be bananas, two of the three games are already sold out, and the Vols will be walking into a hostile environment. It is an early series which could boost one of these teams solidly into the postseason picture for the future.