On the diamond, this is a HUGE weekend for Kentucky. The softball Cats begin their path to the Women’s College World Series when they host the Regionals at John Cropp Stadium and just a few feet away, the baseball team will play in a massive weekend series against No. 2 Vanderbilt with the postseason on the line. Here’s what the baseball team has to do to get into the SEC Tournament.
Heading into the last weekend of the year, the Cats are currently in a three-way tie for the last spot in the SEC Tournament with Alabama and South Carolina. Despite Kentucky dropping two of three to South Carolina just last week, most scenarios do favor the Cats getting into the SEC Tournament. This weekend, Kentucky will face No. 2 Vanderbilt, South Carolina will see No. 5 Mississippi State, and Alabama will take on No. 7 Georgia. This can get confusing, so just stay with me here.
Kentucky gets in the tournament IF…
They win more games than South Carolina and Alabama this weekend
Despite South Carolina beating Kentucky two out of three this weekend, if Kentucky takes more games this weekend than the other teams, they will outright have the better record than both Alabama and South Carolina. In my opinion, it is most likely that Bama and USC get swept this weekend, and Kentucky can steal one with their ace Zack Thompson on the mound.
This is the clearest path to Hoover. Just win, and you’re in essentially, but the Cats will need to be fans of both Georgia and Mississippi State this weekend.
They get in a two-way tie with Alabama
Because Kentucky and Alabama did not play each other this season, there is no head-to-head record. So how can Kentucky get in if they tie with Alabama since Alabama has a better non-conference record? Well, it’s simple, kind of. In the SEC Tournament, when two teams are tied who haven’t played each other, the tiebreaker is their record against common opponents against the highest seed. So, in this case, Vanderbilt is the highest seed in the SEC Tournament, and luckily for the Cats, Alabama got swept by Vandy nearly a month ago. Therefore, if South Carolina gets swept and Kentucky can match what Alabama does this weekend, Kentucky will get in.
They get into a three-way tie
Now for many obvious reasons, you want to avoid the scenario of getting swept because no one wants to lose, and you would then have to bank on South Carolina and Alabama getting swept as well. However, in the case that all three teams get swept this weekend, that bodes well for Kentucky. By the end of this weekend, all three teams would have played Vanderbilt (the top seed in the SEC Tournament) this season. So, if Kentucky DOES get swept this weekend, they can still survive because the next common opponent for all three teams will be Georgia, who swept South Carolina earlier this season. In the scenario that Georgia sweeps Alabama and South Carolina gets swept to force this three-way tie, Kentucky will own the tiebreaker on South Carolina and Alabama with their victory against Georgia back in March when Zack Thompson went the distance.
However, if things go well and Kentucky wins one this weekend, they are in great shape as long as South Carolina doesn’t win one. If South Carolina does win one along with Kentucky this weekend, Kentucky will really need Alabama to win one too because Kentucky needs to avoid a two-way tie with South Carolina.
Kentucky will NOT get into the tournament IF…
They get into a two-way tie with South Carolina
This is why Kentucky needs to cheer hard for Mississippi State this weekend. Kentucky MUST avoid a two-way tie with South Carolina. Last weekend hurt Kentucky with this scenario, so now South Carolina owns the tiebreaker over the Cats. If South Carolina gets swept this weekend, the path becomes a lot easier for Kentucky to get to Hoover. Kentucky really needs to outplay or match South Carolina and hope Alabama can do the same to get in this weekend.
They don’t win as many as South Carolina or Alabama
This scenario is just as clear cut as winning more than the other two teams. If Kentucky can’t win as many or more games than both teams, they will be out of the tournament because they will have a worse record which will knock them out of the tiebreaker.
In short, be HUGE Mississippi State fans this weekend, hope Alabama doesn’t win more than Kentucky, and just beat Vanderbilt.
This massive weekend against Vandy kicks off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Kentucky Proud Park.
Go Cats. @BrentW_KSR