The Vanderbilt Commodores are predicted to repeat as the 2008 Southeastern Conference baseball champions, as voted by the league’s 12 baseball coaches in the 17th annual preseason SEC poll.
The Commodores, ranked as high as No. 3 nationally in the preseason polls, seek to capture their fifth SEC Championship, having also won titles in 1973, 1974, 1980 and 2007. Vanderbilt returns eight position starters and four pitchers from their 2007 squad which also won the SEC Tournament and earned the National No. 1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament.
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 the overall SEC Champion vote, Vanderbilt received five of the 12 championship votes in the poll. Ole Miss followed closely behind with four votes, while South Carolina received three.
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 Eastern Division, Vanderbilt was the favorite with 62 of a possible 66 points. South Carolina came in second with 58 points and Kentucky third with 42 points. Ole Miss was the clear favorite in the Western Division with a total of 65 points. Mississippi State, last season’s SEC representative at the College World Series, was second with 47, while Arkansas finished third 39.
Points were compiled on a 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 2008 season gets underway February 22. The conference schedule is set to begin the weekend of March 14-16. The 2008 SEC Tournament will be held May 21-25 at the newly refurbished Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. The SEC Tournament has drawn over 100,000 fans four of the last six years. Nearly 1.7 million fans attended games in the SEC last season, an all-time NCAA record and the sixth year in a row the SEC has topped the one million mark in attendance, leading the nation once again in that category.