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Around the Bases // Racing

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The races shape up. Finally, with two weekends of conference play now taken care of, the divisions begin to define themselves. All of this is early, of course, but still important in its own way.

Arkansas has taken a commanding lead in the West, sweeping Florida last week and Auburn this past weekend. Obviously, there are stronger teams in the league than Auburn and possibly Florida, who busy sweeping dreadful Tennessee (1-5 SEC, 9-12 overall).

Two games back of the Hogs are the onetime favorite LSU Tigers -- who still have to be considered a team to beat, if not the team to beat -- and the Mississippi Rebels. Both teams are 4-2 in the SEC.

Alabama finds itself in a three-game hole early, while Auburn and Mississippi State -- well, there's really nothing to see in Omaha anyway. Or Hoover, either, since at best only one of you is likely to make it there.

In the East, Georgia has (as expected) taken the lead with a 4-2 league record after taking two of three from sweeping the Western Division Bulldogs. Kentucky and Florida have both evened their record to 3-3, with South Carolina and Vanderbilt two games back at 2-4. And then there's Tennessee. Hey, at least there's baske -- well, no that didn't work out either. Well, the football did go to the -- no, no, they were 5-7. There's always women's baske -- you don't say? First time ever? Huh.

Pitching wins championships. If you needed proof of the old adage, find it in Alabama. The Crimson Tide has the league's overall best batting average (.343), best OPS (1.030, only team over 1.000 in the SEC), second-most runs scored (213, one behind Georgia), most hits (274), most doubles (57), second-most home runs (46, two behind Auburn) and most total bases (481, 33 ahead of second-place Auburn).

Alas, when it comes to SEC play, the Tide have allowed 40 runs in six games, leaving them with nothing but a 3-3 record to show for it. Turn the pitching around, and Alabama could be a team to be feared.

Rankings. Georgia takes No. 1 in the SEC-friendly Collegiate Baseball and in USA Today/ESPN coaches, while checking in at No. 6 in Baseball America. LSU is No. 2 in BA, No. 4 in CB, No. 5 in coaches. Arkansas is No. 9 in CB, No. 10 in coaches, No. 14 in BA.

Mississippi is 11 in BA, 14 in CB, 16 in coaches. Alabama exits the Top 25 in BA, as does Florida in the coaches' poll.

Collegiate Baseball hasn't given up on Florida, which moves into the poll(!) at No. 23. Alabama chimes in at 26 in the 30-spot poll, with South Carolina (No. 28) still ranked for reasons passing understanding. They did at least drop one place.

Best of this weekend. LSU matches up with Ole Miss in a series that will determine second place in the SEC West, at least for now. Game time are 8 p.m. ET Friday, 5 p.m. ET Saturday and 2 p.m ET Sunday. The Saturday game is slated for FSN.