Playing in the SEC
The Southeastern Conference, with its storied 77-year history of athletic achievements and academic excellence, has built perhaps the greatest tradition of intercollegiate competition in baseball of any league in the country since its inception in 1933.
The SEC posted another tremendous season in 2010 as the conference had eight teams earn selection to NCAA postseason play with South Carolina and Florida advancing to the College World Series. A SEC squad has now appeared in the College World Series 25 of the last 26 years. South Carolina advanced to and won the National Championship Series, marking the sixth time since 2000 an SEC team played for the national championship in Omaha and third in a row. LSU won the SEC tournament title over Alabama. Florida won the SEC regular-season title with a 22-8 conference record, while Auburn won the Western Division with a 20-10 record.
The Southeastern Conference boasts 11 former National Players of the Year (South Carolina's Kip Bouknight won in 2000), 10 Baseball America Coach of the Year and nine Collegiate Baseball Coach of the Year honors. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner has twice earned National Coach of the Year honors both in 2000 and in 2010. Also, 143 student-athletes have been named first-team All-American, four of which came in 2010. Three SEC players were taken in the first round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, held Tuesday in New York City, including the fifth pick overall. With those three selections this year, the SEC has now had a first round selection in each year since 1991 and 83 total in the first round during that time. Justin Smoak and Reese Havens were the most recent first round selections from South Carolina in 2008 with Smoak drafted 11th overall by the Texas Rangers and Havens the No. 22 overall pick by the New York Mets.
The SEC drew a record of nearly two million fans to its on-campus ballparks in 2010, the fifth year in a row to draw over 1.6 million. Eight SEC teams drew in excess of 100,000 fans to their parks in 2010. The SEC averaged a record 4,867 fans per game in 2010, the fourth straight year to exceed the 4,000 mark. South Carolina and LSU (the last two national champions) both opened new parks in 2009, while Ole Miss’ recent expansion took capacity over 10,000. The SEC Baseball Tournament drew a new record-high 126,071 fans in 2010, despite lengthy rain and lightning delays on three of the five days of the event. A new average per game attendance of 9,698 was also established at this year’s tournament. The SEC Championship Game, broadcast nationally on EPSN2 for the first time, drew 13,327 fans.
SEC BY THE NUMBERS