BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WCBI/SEC) – The South Carolina Gamecocks are predicted to win the 2014 Southeastern Conference baseball championship by a slim one-vote margin, as voted by the league’s 14 baseball coaches in the 23rd annual preseason SEC poll.
The Gamecocks, ranked No. 14 nationally in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll, seek to capture their fourth SEC Championship. LSU and Mississippi State, ranked second and fourth in the USA Today poll respectively, received four votes each in the overall vote.
LSU has 15 SEC Championships in its program’s history, while Mississippi State has 10, the last of which came in 1989. Vanderbilt also received one vote to win the league title.
Since 1996, the SEC has named a regular season champion as well as a tournament champion. Prior to 1996, the tournament champion was considered the SEC Champion.
In addition to picking a preseason SEC champion, the league’s head coaches voted a predicted order of finish in the SEC Eastern and Western Divisions. In the Western Division, LSU was the narrow favorite with 84 of a possible 91 points. Mississippi State came in second with 83 points, with Alabama and Texas A&M tied at third with 58. South Carolina received 86 points in the Eastern Division. Vanderbilt was second with 82, while Florida finished third with 69.
Points were compiled on a 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
The 2014 SEC regular season begins Friday, February 14, with conference play set to begin Friday, March 14. The SEC Tournament will be played at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala., May 20-25. The 2013 SEC Baseball Tournament drew over 134,000 fans, a new record-high for the event. Eight times in the last 11 years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance.
Team — Pts.
1. South Carolina (9) — 86
2. Vanderbilt (5) — 82
3. Florida — 69
4. Kentucky — 47
5. Tennessee — 39
6. Georgia — 38
7. Missouri — 24
Team — Pts.
1. LSU (6) — 84
2. Mississippi State (7) — 83
3. Alabama — 58
Texas A&M (1) — 58
5. Arkansas — 44
6. Ole Miss — 35
7. Auburn — 21
SEC Champion: South Carolina (5); LSU (4), Mississippi State (4); Vanderbilt (1)