SEC Struggles, Conference Play Begins in ACC, OVC and Southland

SEC NEEDS STRONG NON-CONFERENCE FINISH
The final non-conference weekend has arrived and teams in the SEC need a good weekend to gain some momentum heading into next week’s SEC opening weekend.

Through the first three weekends, SEC teams have a combined 124-59 (.677) overall record. Five teams have won 10 or more games. Missouri (12-1) and Tennessee (9-1) are the only teams with less than three losses.

The SEC posted a 2-7 (.222) record against the Big 12 Conference in last week’s Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park. Texas A&M and LSU went 1-2 in the three-day event, while Ole Miss was 0-3 against Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU.

The Tigers are Volunteers are the league’s two hottest teams. Missouri has won 12 straight games and led the SEC in virtually every offensive category. Tennessee has an 8-game winning streak, including a perfect 4-0 record on its swing through California two weeks ago.

The SEC Eastern Division owns a 63-29 combined record. Florida (10-4), South Carolina (9-5), Vanderbilt (9-5), Kentucky (8-6) and Georgia (6-7) all have at least four losses.

Florida’s four losses have come in midweek games to in-state schools Jacksonville, UCF and Florida Gulf Coast (2). The Gators are last in the SEC in hitting (.252) despite a dominant pitching staff.

South Carolina suffered a 1-0 loss to UNC Greensboro on the opening weekend. The other four losses have come to Kansas State, Wright State and Clemson.  Kansas State (11-2) has a seven-game winning streak entering the weekend, while Wright State and Clemson were both in the NCAA Regionals last season.

Vanderbilt has lost back-to-back home series to Illinois-Chicago and Cal State Northridge. Vandy has third-worst batting average in the SEC with two outs (.267) and fourth-worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.277) this season.

Kentucky has won eight of its last 10 games after opening the season with four straight losses, its worst start since 1999.

Georgia lost its season-opening series to College of Charleston and has losses to Mercer, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, UAB and Xavier.

The SEC Western Division owns a 61-30 combined record. Florida (10-4), South Carolina (9-5), Vanderbilt (9-5), Kentucky (8-6) and Georgia (6-7) all have at least four losses. Texas A&M (11-3), Arkansas (10-3) and Auburn (10-4) all have 10 wins, but every team in the division has at least three losses.

Arkansas opened the season with six straight wins, but has gone 3-4 in its last seven games. Arkansas went 1-2 last weekend against Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma State at the Frisco College Classic.

Auburn has an NCAA-leading five shutouts this year, but has allowed 38 runs (9.5 per game) in its four losses to George Washington, Samford, Lipscomb and South Alabama.

Alabama was swept in three-game home series by Oral Roberts two weeks ago. The Golden Eagles have won 16 straight Summit League championships but should never sweep an SEC team, especially on the road.

Ole Miss opened the year with seven straight wins, but has lost five of the last six games. Ole Miss has struggled on offense of late as the Rebels have scored five total runs in the last five games. The lone win in that stretch was 1-0 win over Georgia State on Tuesday.

Mississippi State has posted a 2-4 record in its six-one run games this season. MSU has played five straight one-run games against Marist, Oregon (3) and Louisiana Tech and is 1-4 in those five games. MSU is last in the league with 4.53 ERA.

All 14 teams have one more weekend to right the ship before league play beings next week.

CONFERENCE PLAY BEGINS THIS WEKEEND: The Atlantic Coast Conference, Ohio Valley Conference and Southland Conference all open league play this weekend.

Florida State (11-2) was the 2017 preseason favorite to win the ACC title. The Seminoles bring a 9-game winning streak into its ACC opener with Boston College. Louisville (12-0) is one of two undefeated Division I teams in the nation. The Cardinals host Pitt in the ACC opener this weekend. The headline series is No. 10 Virginia (12-1) at No. 13 North Carolina (10-3). Wake Forest (10-4) brings a 7-game winning streak into the ACC opener with NC State. Miami (4-8) looks to get its offense on track against Georgia Tech in Coral Gables this weekend. Miami has lost three straight and four of five games.

Jacksonville State (7-4) and SE Missouri State (6-5) were the preseason co-favorites to win the 2017 OVC Championship. The Gamecocks open league play at Austin Peay this weekend. JSU has played 13 of its first 14 games on the road. JSU on-campus field is being renovated so the Gamecocks are without a home this season. JSU is playing its home games at Choccolocco Park in nearby Oxford, Alabama. JSU defeated Bowling Green 5-0 in its home opener on Wednesday. SE Missouri opens at Morehead State this weekend.

Sam Houston State is the preseason favorite to win the Southland Conference. The Bearkats (8-5) host Lamar in the conference opener this weekend. McNeese State (9-4) enters conference play with a 5-game winning streak, including a 4-3 win over LSU on Wednesday night.  SE Louisiana (8-4) had a 4-game winning streak entering conference play. The Lions have a road series win at Rice this season.

UNDEFEATED TEAMS: Louisville (12-0) and Harvard (4-0) are the lone undefeated teams in college baseball. The Cardinals owns the nation’s second-longest active winning streak. Louisville opens ACC play this weekend with a home series against Pitt. The Crimson opened the season this past weekend with four wins over Lafayette and Coppin State at the DC Greys Collegiate Challenge in Washington, D.C. Harvard plays a four-game series at Jacksonville (Fla.) this weekend.

WINLESS TEAMS: A total of nine teams are still seeking their first win of the 2017 season. The list of winless teams includes Western Illinois (0-10), Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-10), St. Joseph’s (0-10), Mount St. Mary’s (0-9), Penn (0-6), Princeton (0-4), Brown (0-3), Columbia (0-3) and UMass (0-4).

COLLEGE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
Fairleigh Dickinson snapped its season-opening 9-game losing streak with a 10-9 win over Lafayette on Tuesday. FDU followed that up with a win over New Jersey Tech 14-7 on Wednesday.

Florida Gulf Coast swept a two-game midweek series with No. 2 Florida this week. FGCU defeated Florida 7-3 in Fort Myers on Tuesday and 3-2 in Gainesville on Wednesday.

FIU pitcher Robert Garcia fired seven scoreless innings in the Panthers 12-1 win over Miami on Tuesday night in Boca Raton. Garcia finished with nine strikeouts. FIU swept the two-game series with a 0-0 at Mark Light Stadium on Wednesday.

Holy Cross snapped a season-opening seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 win at UC Riverside on Tuesday.

Louisville and Missouri own the nation’s longest active winning streak at 12 games. South Florida has won 11 straight games, while East Carolina is riding a 10-game winning streak.

Mount Saint Mary’s owns the nation’s longest losing streak at 18 straight games, dating back to last year. Western Illinois has a 16-game losing streak, followed by Omaha with an 11-game losing streak and UMES and St. Joseph’s with a 10-game losing skid.

Oregon State head coach Pat Casey notched his 800th career win as the Beavers defeated Ball State 2-0 on Thursday night in Corvallis.

Wichita State snapped Oklahoma’s 13-game winning streak with a 4-2 win at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman on Tuesday.

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