New Orleans (SBC) - The 2010 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Regular Season title came down to the final conference weekend as several teams were in the running for the outright crown. Florida Atlantic which won two-of-three against FIU and Louisiana-Lafayette which swept Louisiana-Monroe are the SBC Baseball Regular Season Co-Champions after finishing the 2010 season with identical 21-9 conference records.
FAU (33-20, 21-9 SBC), which earned its first regular season title, will be the No. 1 seed in next week's double-elimination SBC Baseball Tournament scheduled for May 26-29 at Reese Smith Jr. Field on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. The Owls will be seeking their first SBC tournament title after winning an FAU record 21 conference games this year. The Owls have never won more than 15 SBC games in a season since they joined the league in 2007 but have qualified for the tournament in all four years they have competed in the SBC.
FAU will face eighth-seeded WKU in the first round of the SBC tournament on Wednesday, May 26 at 12:30 p.m. CT.
The Ragin' Cajuns, one of the hottest teams in NCAA Division I baseball, enter the 2010 tournament as the No. 2 seed and will face seventh-seeded Arkansas State at 4:00 p.m. CT. The regular season title is the first for the Cajuns since 2007 as ULL looks for its first tournament title since 1998.
The 21 conference wins are tied for the third-most in ULL history. The Cajuns (37-18, 21-9 SBC) set a new school record for consecutive conference wins with 12 earlier this season and have won 17 of their last 18 conference contests, sweeping all but one opponent. The Cajuns lead the SBC in pitching with a staff earned run average of 3.32.
Middle Tennessee (34-21, 18-12 SBC), the host team of the SBC tournament, earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament after finishing the 2010 campaign with an 18-12 conference record. The 2009 SBC Tournament champions, winners of eight of their last 11 games, will face sixth-seeded Troy in the opening round of the tournament at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, May 26.
As tournament host, Middle Tennessee reserved the right to select its first round game time on Wednesday which necessitated an alteration of game times to ensure proper rest for the student-athletes throughout the tournament. The Blue Raiders, should they win the 2010 tournament title, will become just the third team in SBC history to win back-to-back SBC tournament titles. MT ranks second in the SBC in hitting (.325 batting average), home runs (84) and scoring (445 runs).
FIU (31-22, 17-13 SBC) enters the 2010 SBC tournament as the fourth-seed and will face fifth-seeded South Alabama, whom they swept earlier this month. FIU, seeking its first SBC tournament title since 1999, leads the SBC in hitting with a team batting average of .334. The 17 conference wins are the second most conference wins FIU has had since 1999. This is the second consecutive year the Golden Panthers have qualified for the SBC tournament.
FIU sophomore Garrett Wittels enters the tournament riding an amazing 48-game hitting streak. The Bay Harbor, Fla. native leads the NCAA this season and is currently second all-time in the NCAA, just ten games shy of former Major League star Robin Ventura who hit in 58 consecutive games in 1987. Wittels has hit safely in every single game this season breaking the previous SBC hit streak record of 31 consecutive set in 2006.
South Alabama (31-25, 17-13 SBC) enters the tournament on a winning note having defeated Troy in the season finale on Sunday, May 22. USA is the most decorated team in the SBC tournament field having won 74 tournament games since 1978. The Jags last tournament title came in 2005.
Troy comes into the tournament having won its last five SBC conference series. This year's tournament will be the fifth consecutive for the Trojans which last won the tournament title in 2006. Troy (32-23, 16-14 SBC) finished tied with Arkansas State and WKU but earned the sixth seed in the tournament by having a better composite record between the three teams in the three-way tie.
The Trojans are the highest scoring team in the SBC having scored 464 runs this season and lead the SBC in home runs having hit 85 round-trippers on the year.
Arkansas State (28-26, 16-14 SBC) will be making its first SBC tournament appearance since 2006 after posting 16 conference wins in 2010. Those 16 wins marked the most conference wins for the Red Wolves since 1995. ASU, whose last tournament title came in 1994, held the head-to-head tie-breaker over WKU having won two-of-three over the Hilltoppers earlier this season, thus earning the No. 7 seed.
WKU, the eighth and final seed, is tied for second in the SBC in runs scored (445) and second in pitching with a team ERA of 4.39. The Hilltoppers last won the SBC tournament title in 2008 - that year they also posted a 16-14 conference record. WKU is second all-time in the SBC with 32 tournament wins.
The eight-team field features some of the top players and teams in the nation as Sun Belt baseball is among the best in the country, currently rated as the fifth-best Division I conference in the NCAA. Only four other conferences have more teams among the top 100 in the RPI. This season seven teams have won 30 or more games marking only the third occurrence since 2000 that the league has seen seven teams with as many wins.
The Sun Belt Conference champion was determined by the team who finished the regular season with the best won-loss percentage in conference games during the season. Seeding for the 2010 SBC Baseball tournament was determined by each team's rank within the league based on the team's won-loss percentage in conference games.
Tournament action will begin Wednesday, May 26 and run through Saturday, May 29 with four games per day until the championship game on Saturday. Prior to the start of tournament play, the SBC along with Middle Tennessee will host Championship Family Night. Family Night is free and open to the public. Family Night festivities will include an awards ceremony, home run derby by student-athletes, a fireworks show and autograph opportunities. Gates will open to Reese Smith Jr. Field at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Visit the 2010 SBC Baseball Championship Central on www.sunbeltsports.org for complete information on each and every game of the baseball championship.
Fans can catch all of the 2010 SBC Baseball Championship live courtesy of SBC Extra. For just $9.95 you can enjoy each game leading up to the championship game. Saturday's championship game will be broadcast by CSS/CST as part of the SBC Network.
2010 Sun Belt Baseball Tournament Seeds
1. Florida Atlantic (21-9, 0.700)
2. Louisiana-Lafayette (21-9, 0.700)
3. Middle Tennessee (18-12, 0.600)
4. FIU (17-13, 0.567)
5. USA (17-13, 0.567)
6. Troy (16-14, 0.533)
7. Arkansas State (16-14, 0.533)
8. WKU (16-14, 0.533)
2010 Sun Belt Baseball Tournament Schedule – all times Central