The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 20, 2013

Vanderbilt, LSU headline expanded SEC tournament


Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said the extra day of rest is most helpful because it allows his pitching staff another day to recover from the regular season.

No. 1 seed Vanderbilt (48-7) cruised through league play with a 26-3 record, finishing with the most league wins since the conference expanded to a 30-game schedule in 1992. The Commodores have two dominant starting pitchers— Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede — and an experienced lineup led by Tony Kemp (.408, 27 stolen bases) and Connor Harrell (.309, 11 homers).

Vanderbilt's 26 SEC wins topped South Carolina's previous record of 25 set in 2000.

"It just speaks to creating a very consistent attitude day after day after day," Corbin said. "It's a team that enjoys competition and enjoys each other."

No. 2 seed LSU (48-8) finished with a 23-7 league record that would have been good enough to top the SEC in just about any other season. The Tigers are led by senior Mason Katz, who is hitting .388 with 14 homers and 64 RBIs. Ace pitcher Aaron Nola has a 10-0 record with a 1.99 ERA.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri said the SEC tournament's difficulty is a great tuneup for the NCAA tournament and is exceeded in difficulty only by the College World Series.

"You've got a bunch of great teams and everyone knows each other," Mainieri said.

No. 3 Arkansas (35-19, 18-11 SEC) is led by a pitching staff that has a 1.90 ERA, which is the best mark in the country. Right-hander Ryne Stanek is considered an elite MLB prospect for June's amateur draft and leads the Razorbacks with an 8-2 record and 1.54 ERA.

No. 4 South Carolina (39-16, 17-12) has had a solid season in its first year under coach Chad Holbrook. LB Dantzler ranks second in the SEC with 14 homers and is also hitting .333 with 47 RBIs.

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