SEC Baseball Tournament 2021: Wednesday Schedule and Bracket PredictionsMay 26, 2021
The 2021 SEC baseball tournament got underway Tuesday, and now it's time for the conference's top teams to take the field at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala.
Four games are scheduled to take place Wednesday, with the top four seeds playing their first game of the tournament. Each of those teams will be taking on an opponent that was victorious in its tourney opener on Tuesday.
Arkansas is the top-ranked team in the tournament, entering with a 42-10 record. Vanderbilt, which is the No. 4 seed, is looking to win its second consecutive SEC tourney, having won it in 2019. (The 2020 tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.)
Here's a look at Wednesday's SEC tournament schedule, followed by predictions for how the event is going to unfold this week.
No. 3 Mississippi State vs. No. 6 Florida, 10:30 a.m. ET, SEC Network
No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 10 Alabama, 2 p.m. ET, SEC Network
No. 1 Arkansas vs. No. 8 Georgia, 5:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network
No. 4 Vanderbilt vs. No. 5 Ole Miss, 9 p.m. ET, SEC Network
Vanderbilt may be the No. 4 seed in the tournament, after going 39-13 during the regular season, but there's no doubt the Commodores are one of the more dangerous teams. That's because they have a pair of All-SEC first-team starting pitchers in junior Kumar Rocker and sophomore Jack Leiter.
If Vanderbilt had beaten Kentucky on Saturday night, it would have finished first in the SEC East and been the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament. That didn't happen, though, and now the Commodores will face a challenge in their first game of the tourney as they face Ole Miss.
However, it won't be Rocker or Leiter on the mound for Vandy's opener. Instead, it will be freshman Christian Little, who went 3-1 with a 5.57 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) during the regular season.
Little may not have been as dominant as his rotation-mates, but he's capable of pitching a solid game. And with an experienced Commodores team around him, they may get on a roll if they start off with a win against the Rebels on Wednesday.
"I think the most important thing is we love playing baseball. So let’s just play as any games as we can," Vanderbilt junior infielder Tate Kolwyck said, per Chad Bishop of the team's official site. "We have fun on the field."
In order to win the SEC tournament again, the Commodores will likely have to go through some of the other top seeds, such as Arkansas, Tennessee or Mississippi State. Those teams are also poised to have strong showings this week and could get started on a strong note with wins on Wednesday.
But Vanderbilt will have its top pitchers ready to go by that point. Rocker is 11-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 starts this season, while Leiter is 8-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 13 starts. And although Leiter has never pitched in the postseason before, Rocker played an instrumental role in the Commodores winning the national championship in 2019 and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series.
As Vandy looks to win the SEC tournament again, its biggest obstacle could be Arkansas. The Razorbacks went 42-10 during the regular season, and the program is hungry for postseason success, as it has never won the SEC tourney.
Arkansas hit a conference-high 89 home runs during the regular season, so it will look to keep slugging its way to success. And expect it to have a solid tournament showing while doing so.
However, Vanderbilt led the SEC in batting average (.304) and ERA (3.42). It has a roster filled with all-around talent, and head coach Tim Corbin has led the program to success before.
So, not only will the Commodores begin the SEC tournament with a win over Ole Miss on Wednesday, but they'll start to heat up again at the right time and go on a postseason run. That will include Vanderbilt winning the SEC tourney title for the fourth time in program history.
Prediction: Vanderbilt wins SEC tournament