Arkansas looks to finish strong in SEC West

By: AP
By: AP

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn
hasn't spent any time this week looking at the possible tiebreaker
scenarios in the Southeastern Conference's West Division.
Van Horn hopes the Razorbacks can eliminate any need for
tiebreakers by closing out the regular season strong during a
three-game series with Mississippi that begins Thursday.
Arkansas (34-17) enters the final weekend of conference play as
one of four teams tied atop the West. The Razorbacks, along with
Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn, are 13-14 in the SEC and
tied for first in the West.
"I know what we've got to do," Van Horn said. "We've got to
win the series. That's all I'm worried about. I'm not worried about
tiebreakers. I want to win the championship like everyone else, so
we'll go from there."
The logjam doesn't end at the top of the division, with Ole Miss
only a game back at 12-15 and LSU two back at 11-16.
All six teams are still alive for one of the four spots at next
week's SEC tournament, and Van Horn is well aware Arkansas could
finish anywhere from first to out of the conference tournament
altogether.
"We'll do whatever we've got to do," Van Horn said. "We're
not playing for one win or whatever. We're just trying to win one
game at a time, and we'll throw whoever we've got to throw."
Van Horn said Razorbacks' ace DJ Baxendale will get the start
against the Rebels (29-23) in Thursday's series opener. Baxendale
(8-1, 1.57 ERA) allowed one run in six innings as Arkansas opened
its series against defending national champion South Carolina with
a 6-2 win last week before dropping the final two games.
Like Van Horn, Baxendale said he hasn't looked at the tiebreaker
scenarios. At the moment, Alabama would be the top seed from the
West at next week's tournament through tiebreakers. Mississippi
State would be second, Auburn third and the Razorbacks fourth.
"I tried not to even mess with that," Baxendale said. "It's
way too jumbled and iffy, and if this team does that, and we need
to do this.
"I just pushed that out of my head. If we take care of our
business, good things will happen for us."
The SEC received eight bids to last year's NCAA tournament.
While there are only eight spots to next week's conference
tournament, Van Horn expects nine teams to make the NCAAs -- meaning
one team that gets left out next weekend would still have games to
look forward to.
The conference has several teams in the top 38 in the current
RPI rankings. Florida is No. 1, followed by Vanderbilt at No. 5 and
South Carolina at No. 6. The Razorbacks are the top-ranked team
from the West at No. 14, followed by LSU at No. 24, Mississippi
State at No. 25, Auburn at No. 27, Ole Miss at No. 37 and Alabama
at No. 38.
Van Horn said he recently read an article that speculated about
the possibility of the SEC placing 10 teams in the NCAA tournament.
He said he immediately deleted the article from his computer, only
because of the national fallout that would follow so many SEC teams
being selected.
"I think if you have 10, it drives people crazy across the
country," Van Horn said. "I know that once SEC teams get into
regionals, they usually make it to the championship game and then
you feel like you deserved it.
" I'm just trying to get us in a regional."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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