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SEC NOTEBOOK: STANDINGS TURNED UPSIDE DOWN
April 8, 2008

SCS.com As seems to happen often in this deep and talent-rich conference, the SEC standings are looking quite different than how preseason predictions saw them to be. The SEC East is looking stronger than the West this year, with four teams currently holding conference records over .500. Vanderbilt, a team that many thought could be the top club in the SEC, is currently in last place in the SEC East with a 5-6 conference record. Thereís no doubt that Pedro Alvarezís early season injury has hurt the Dores' offense, as Vandy isnít doing what they did well last year, hitting with runners on base and in scoring position. Other than Friday night ace Mike Minor, the Commodores pitching staff has been very mediocre up to this point.

Two teams that have really surprised this year are Florida and Tennessee, as the Gators were predicted to finish 5th in the East while the Vols were predicted to finish last in the whole conference. New coaching staffs (Kevin OíSullivan for Florida and Todd Raleigh for Tennessee) have re-energized two programs that were last in Omaha in 2005. The Gators currently hold an 8-4 SEC record, good for 2nd place in the SEC, with the Vols at a 7-5 clip, good for a 3rd place tie in the Southeastern Conference.

The top team in the SEC right now is Georgia, who sports a 9-3 conference record and has won every SEC series so far. With strong starting pitching, a lights-out closer in Joshua Fields, and All American shortstop Gordon Beckham, the Bulldogs look like a team that could return to Omaha where they last were in 2006. Both South Carolina and Kentucky havenít disappointed this year, with each club currently ranked in the Top 25 and each team showing the ability to hit the long ball and score runs.

The SEC West has been a lot less impressive than the East, but Mississippi and Auburn are dangerous teams to watch. With a 7-5 conference record after sweeping Vanderbilt at home, Mississippi is looking more like the team many thought could be the best in the SEC. The starting rotation of Lance Lynn, Cody Satterwhite, and Drew Pomeranz has been strong lately, and the trio will only get better.

Auburn, at 6-6 in the SEC, is one of the youngest teams in the league, if not the youngest. As many as three freshmen can take the hill for the Tigers each weekend and along with first baseman Hunter Morris, itís easy to notice how Auburn is a young but very talented squad. Alabama and LSU are both at 5-7 in the conference but should get better as the SEC season goes along. Arkansas and Mississippi State are currently in the cellar of the SEC, and havenít shown much promise so far.

After four weeks of conference play, the SEC is quite different than what many saw it to be this year. The lone team to make the College World Series last year is last in the league (MSU), a very talented club has underachieved so far (Vandy), and two teams that were supposed to be cellar dwellers (Florida and Tennessee) have surprised and are looking to compete for a conference title. Thatís life in the SEC.

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