Here’s all you need to know about the quality and potential crazy nature of the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament, which begins a four-day run at the University of Central Arkansas’ Bear Stadium early Wednesday morning:
Each member of the eight-team field has both a winning overall and a winning conference record.
Including in the collective resumes are victories over Big 12 teams, Southeastern Conference teams and Conference USA teams.
What you have is the equivalent of a good NCAA regional.
It will be one of the best groups of college baseball teams ever brought together in Arkansas for a single event.
Seedings are meaningless. Matchups could mean everything.
For example, earlier this season, UCA swept Sam Houston State, the regular-season conference champion, which enters the tourney with a 42-15 record and has a shot at an NCAA berth if it doesn’t get the automatic qualifier earned by the conference champion. However, UCA was swept by Northwestern State, the fourth seed that entered that series on a five-game losing streak.
UCA, the No 6 seed, and Lamar, the No. 8 seed, enter as the two teams that have been on the narrowest tightrope for the last two weeks and thus, are used to the “win or pack it up” pressure. UCA had to sweep its final two series to assure a tourney berth and by doing so, moved into a 6 seed. Lamar had to win its final two regular-season games against Oral Roberts to gain the final seed.
Anybody can beat anybody else. And everybody begins with a clean slate.
Last year, UCA gained a tourney berth on the final weekend and went is as a 7 seed. The Bears lost their first game, then fought through the losers bracket to win the tourney title and eventually reach at NCAA regional final against Mississippi State.
UCA has set the latest precedent of what can happen when a team gets a couple of breaks and gets hot at the right time.
It’s almost a given that what will happen in the next few days in Conway will not follow the form chart.
But, in the Southland this season, there is no form chart.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)