Apologies for the slowness of late ... the SBN servers have been fending off a pretty serious attack for about a day and a half now. Knock on wood, but it seems better this morning so far...
1. Will Mizzou play well enough against Kentucky to make the SEC Baseball Tournament?
Do not be fooled by their SEC record, this Wildcat team has the capability to go deep in the conference tournament when they put it all together. On the flip side, Missouri has the opportunity to capitalize off Kentucky struggles of late and finish the season on a high note. If they play well, we could see the Tigers as a low seed in the tournament; but if they proverbially poop the bed, it could mean watching from home. Kentucky defense can be suspect at times, while 58 errors may not seem like too many over 51 games, but those have resulted in 51 unearned runs. Their errors have come back to hurt them many times.
NOTE: This final SEC Weekend is a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series rather than the usual Friday to Sunday schedule. Unless, as the weatherman, predicts, it rains, in which case who knows when these games will happen? Given the way this whole season has gone, why would we not get games rescheduled because of weather on the final weekend?
Again, here are the standings heading into the (early) weekend:
1. Vanderbilt (24-2, 46-6)
2. LSU (21-6, 46-7)
3. Arkansas (17-9, 34-17)
4. South Carolina (16-10, 38-14)
5. Ole Miss (14-13, 35-18)
6. Mississippi State (14-13, 38-15)
7. Alabama (13-13, 31-22)
8. Florida (13-14, 28-25)
9. Texas A&M (11-15, 28-24)
10. Auburn (11-16, 31-21)
11. Kentucky (10-17, 29-22)
12. Missouri (8-19, 16-30)
13. Tennessee (7-18, 21-28)
14. Georgia (5-19, 19-31)
As trripleplay pointed out, win percentage is what matters here, so as long as Mizzou beats Kentucky the same number of times that Tennessee beats Texas A&M (or more, obviously), Mizzou claims the 12-seed. A trip to the SEC Tournament probably wouldn't last very long, but it would at least be a trip to the SEC Tournament.
2. Josh Henson wins over the Kansas City crowd
Another big note: Henson said that Henry Josey is the current starter at running back, followed by Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy. Josey is healthy after a severe knee injury that occurred toward the end of the 2011 season.
Henson said, by his own estimation, that Josey is "90-percent of what he was."
"But that's still pretty stinking good," Henson said.
Josey's return and sustained healthy could be a huge factor in determining Missouri's success this year, and not just from a production standpoint. Henson said Josey's return adds a big "emotional" and "morale" boost to his teammates.
It still seems that even if Josey keeps the starting job, Missouri will rotate in the other running backs frequently. Henson specifically talked about Hansbrough, and some of the runs he made this spring. Henson would ask Hansbrough how he saw the smallest of gaps to gain yardage, and Hansbrough would respond, "I don't know, coach. I just did."
Henson also said that Hansbrough is a physical blocker that could play a large role in pass protection.
3. What's Chelsea got in the tank?
There's no denying that Missouri getting a national No. 6 seed has helped the Tigers. They get Stony Brook (RPI 123) in the opener Friday. It's a game in which Earleywine can completely or partially rest Thomas.
"There might be some blessings rained down from above with the Stony Brook thing," he said.
But the question still begs: Can Thomas throw back-to-back days? She'll have to do it Saturday and Sunday, likely against Hofstra (RPI 20). If MU was to advance to the WCWS, she'd have to pitch back to back days a minimum of twice in six days there.
She's done that successfully — pitch complete games in back to back days — plenty of times. Just not, really, this season.
Earleywine, Stannard and Thomas say she can do it.
"I don't think back to back is the problem," Stannard said. "I think it's back to back to back."
Just three times this season Thomas has pitched complete games on consecutive days.