April 18, 2017
As April comes to an end, there are three Division I baseball teams in our state that are chasing division or conference titles: Mississippi State University in the SEC, the University of Southern Mississippi in Conference USA and Jackson State University in the SWAC.
JSU and USM are leading their respective conferences, and MSU is a game behind its division and conference leader, the University of Arkansas. Both the Bulldogs and the Golden Eagles are ranked in multiple baseball top-25 polls.
MSU is 25-13 overall and 10-5 in SEC play, but the Bulldogs are tied with the Auburn University and the University of Kentucky for second place in the conference. The Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers are also tied for second place in the SEC West.
MSU still has five three-game conference series left to play. The Bulldogs host the last-place University of Alabama this weekend before hosting Auburn in the next weekend. They end the season on the road against Texas A&M University, on the road at the University of Georgia, and at home against Louisiana State University. Georgia is in last place in the SEC East, and Texas A&M and LSU are within striking distance in the SEC West.
Back in March, Arkansas swept the Bulldogs in a three-game series that could come back to haunt them if they finish in second place. It is within reason to believe that MSU could win two of the three games in every series left.
MSU is still in play to win both the SEC West and the SEC regular-season titles. The Bulldogs will need to keep winning and get some help from others if they are going to take either the division or conference crown.
Southern Miss is currently leading C-USA by a full game over Florida Atlantic University. The Golden Eagles are 28-9 overall and 12-3 in conference play, and they have five more three-game series in conference play.
Southern Miss hosts Old Dominion University this weekend and travels to Middle Tennessee State University in the next weekend. Then, the Golden Eagles host Florida Atlantic, stay at home against the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and finally, hit the road to finish the season at the University of Texas, San Antonio.
Old Dominion is third in the C-USA standings, and the Florida Atlantic series could decide the regular-season championship. Middle Tennessee, UAB and UTSA are in the middle to bottom of the conference standings.
Southern Miss is in great shape to take the regular-season title. The Golden Eagles get to host the second- and third-place teams to end the season, and if they can win the series against Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic, they will be in the driver’s seat for their last two series.
Jackson State currently has a two-game lead over Alabama State University in the SWAC East division. The Tigers are five games ahead of Texas Southern University, who leads the SWAC West.
JSU is 29-11 overall and 15-3 in SWAC play, and the only team in the conference with a winning record overall. The Tigers just swept Alabama State to take the lead in the East and have two more three-game series in conference play.
This weekend, the Tigers travel to face the Alcorn State University Braves, who are 5-10 in SWAC play for third place in the East. Alcorn would love to play spoiler against their longtime rivals this weekend.
Jackson State finishes the season in conference play at home against Alabama A&M University. Just like Alcorn, Alabama A&M is 5-10 in SWAC play, tied for third place in the East.
JSU has a great chance to win the regular-season SWAC East title and the conference regular-season crown. Alabama State ends the season on the road against Grambling State University, at home against Mississippi Valley State University and on the road yet again to take on Alcorn State.
Grambling State is second in the SWAC West and is a game behind Texas Southern University. MVSU is last in the SWAC East but just a game behind Alcorn and Alabama A&M. Alabama State has a tougher road to the title, with three series left to play and two of those on the road.
Right now, it looks like Mississippi State and Southern Miss are locks to get into the NCAA baseball tournament. Jackson State must win the SWAC tournament to get the only bid that the conference will receive.
Meanwhile, the University of Mississippi could be an at-large team in the tournament. In all, our state could get four teams into the tournament if everything plays out perfectly.