Batting Around: Week 7

1.) Florida Gators (24-4, 6-3 SEC) - The #1 Florida Gators came into last weekend riding high off a series win over the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks and a mid-week victory over rival Florida State. The fuzzy feelings didn't last for coach Kevin O'Sullivan and crew, though. The Ole Miss Rebels took the Friday game in convincing fashion, shutting out the gators for the first time all year. Florida took the Saturday game before dropping a close Sunday match. UF will look to get back on track this weekend when they host a surging LSU squad.

2.) Kentucky Wildcats (27-2, 7-2 SEC) - The Wildcats won the series against UGA 2-1 with a combined score of 27-16. Kentucky continues to swing a hot bat. Taking two from Georgia means the 'Cats have still only lost a total of two games on the season, which has made March 2012 one of the most successful athletic months in Kentucky's history. The #8 Kentucky Wildcats will play host to the Ole Miss Rebels this week.

3.) South Carolina Gamecocks (20-8, 3-6 SEC) - The #11 Gamecocks did what they needed to do against a Vanderbilt squad that has been struggling to find its feet this year. USC traded victories with Vandy on Friday and Saturday before taking the series on Sunday in a thirteen-inning affair. South Carolina coach Ray Tanner played the same starting lineup in consecutive games for the first time all season on Friday and Saturday. At this point, the starting rotation appears to be the aspect of USC's team that is most in flux. True Freshman Evan Beal got his first career start but was saddled with the loss. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Forrest Koumas, the former Saturday starter, who faced three batters in relief of Beal and allowed hits to all three. The Gamecocks have been able to ride Michael Roth's rubber arm to two National Championships, but the kid can't pitch every day. USC will have to find some inning eaters if they want to get to the post season in one piece.

4.) LSU Tigers (22-6, 6-3 SEC) - After losing two of three to Auburn in week 6, the LSU Tigers rebounded in a big way last week by sweeping the Arkansas Razorbacks by a combined score of 15-9. The #12 Bayou Bengals' performance has underscored the topsy-turvy nature of the SEC this year. The SEC West is still wide open at this point, with Alabama being the only team that doesn't have a legitimate shot. If LSU can steal a game or two from Florida in Gainesville this week they'll be in the catbird seat in the West.

5.) Arkansas Razorbacks (22-6, 5-4 SEC) - The #13 Razorbacks didn't play any mid-week games last weekend, presumably to prepare for the trip to Baton Rouge. LSU put up 4 runs in the fifth inning on Friday to take the lead, and Arkansas never recovered. The Hogs would go on to lose both the Saturday and Sunday games by a single run. Hey, it's baseball. Sometimes this stuff happens.I can't rationalize putting the Hogs above the Tigers right now, though.

6.) Auburn Tigers (17-11, 6-3 SEC) - Auburn has yet to sweep an opponent or have been swept by an opponent so far this year. The Tigers rolled over Mississippi State on Saturday and Sunday after dropping the Friday match 5-3. They also reappear in the Baseball America poll at #23.

7.) Ole Miss Rebels (20-8, 5-4 SEC) - You took two of three from Florida, you say? Well now, Rebels, you're finally starting to impress me. Maybe not on the level of the # 10 ranking Baseball America has bestowed upon you, but impress me nonetheless. Ole Miss bookended the Gators last weekend in a convincing series win at home. This may be our first indication that the Rebels are turning their baby players in ball players. Sophomore Bobby Whal (2-0, 1.50 ERA) pitched an outstanding game to blank the Gators for the first time all season. Whal went 8 innings while allowing just 2 hits and 3 bases on balls.

8.) Vanderbilt Commodores (11-17, 3-6 SEC) - Vanderbilt held its own against the two-time defending national champion Gamecocks last weekend, and nearly took the series on Sunday. The USC bullpen proved too much for the Commodores, though. Vandy continues to bounce along the bottom of the SEC East but just above Georgia due to the head-to-head match up. It's much too early to say Vanderbilt is on the rise again, but they're not flat-lining, either.

9.) Georgia Bulldogs (18-11, 4-5 SEC) - Georgia has had a little skid of its own as of late. After dropping a mid-week game 10-5 to the Clemson Tigers, the Dawgs lost two to the red-hot Kentucky Wildcats. The Bulldogs will travel to Fayetteville this week for a series with the Arkansas Razorbacks. It feels weird to put the Bulldogs this low in the ranking, but there you have it. They just don't have the wins.

10.) Mississippi State Bulldogs (18-11, 3-6 SEC) - The Bulldogs continue to slide down the SEC chart as conference play wears on. This past weekend marks the third straight weekend MSU has dropped an SEC series by a 1-2 margin. What once had the potential to be a promising season for the maroon and white is now slowly making a turn to mediocrity. At 3-6 in conference play, MSU still has series against Vanderbilt, South Carolina, rival Ole Miss, Florida, and Kentucky. For those of you counting at home, that means they still have to play the best two teams in the league as well as two teams from last year's College World Series.

11.) Tennessee Volunteers (18-10, 5-4 SEC) - A series versus Alabama can rejuvenate the soul of just about any baseball team these days. The Volunteers swept the Crimson Tide by a combined score of 19-13. This week they'll travel to Columbia for a series against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

12.) Alabama Crimson Tide (9-19, 1-8 SEC) - I have nothing to say to you, Tide fans. You know what you did.

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