Baseball Tournament Preview
NEW ORLEANS, La. – The 2017 Southwestern Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament is set to begin on Wednesday, with all eight teams that qualified taking the field at Wesley Barrows Stadium in New Orleans, La.
The tournament format is double elimination, with eastern division seeds matching up against western division seeds. The championship game will be broadcast live on ESPNU on Sunday May 21 at 11 a.m CT.
#2W Texas Southern (16-31, 14-10 SWAC) vs. #3 E Alabama A&M (12-43, 9-15 SWAC)
The opening game of the tournament features what could be a chess match with one of the league's top pitchers in Alabama A&M's Brandon Marsonek who was fourth in the conference with a 3.02 ERA, totaling 127 strikeouts, and five saves during the regular season, up against Gerrek Jimenez, who was the Tiger's top hitter this season. Jimenez totaled a .311 batting average, with 42 hits (6 2B, 2 3B) and 15 RBIs. As a team, the Bulldogs had a .236 batting average this season, which ranked ninth in the SWAC, while Texas Southern ranked fifth in that category (.259). The Tigers are trying to advance to the championship game for the third consecutive year, while the Bulldogs are vying for its first baseball championship in program history.
#2E Alabama State (28-24, 18-6 SWAC) vs. #3W Prairie View A&M (18-35, 11-13 SWAC)
Defending champion Alabama State will open the tournament against Prairie View A&M. The Hornets enter the opening round winners of 9 of its last 10 SWAC contests. The Panthers are 5-5 in its last ten SWAC games. The Panthers will look to first team All-SWAC outfielder, Cody Den Beste to provide offense. Den Beste had a .364 batting average this season, while racking up 71 hits, 13 doubles, 7 triples and four home runs. He also totaled 34 RBIs for the Panthers. The Hornets will look to freshman of the Year Cage Cox, who led the Hornets with a .356 avg., adding 17 doubles, five home runs and 40 RBIs on 69 hits.
#1E Jackson State (38-15, 20-4 SWAC) vs. #4W Southern (16-25, 10-14 SWAC)
Eastern division champion and number one seed in the east, Jackson State will open its tournament against Southern. The Tigers finished the regular season with the best record in the conference, and will look to carry that into tournament play. The Tigers bolstered the best offense of any team in the SWAC during the regular season. The Tigers were the only team to have a batting average about .300 (.322). Jackson State scored 421 runs, which was 90 more runs than the next closest school. The Tigers will look to maintain that offense if it looks to win its first title since winning back-to back titles in 2013 and 2014.
Southern enters the tournament with third best ERA as a team in the SWAC to combat JSU's high powered offense. The Jaguars had a 5.27 ERA, and allowed the second fewest runs in the SWAC this season. The Jaguars are looking to win its first title since 2009, and looking to carry the momentum of making it into the tournament on its final game of the regular season for a lengthy run this week.
#1W Grambling State (22-28, 15-9 SWAC) vs. #4E Alcorn State (11-31, 7-17 SWAC)
Western division champion, Grambling State will open up its 2017 SWAC Baseball Tournament against Alcorn State. This first round matchup is the only one that features teams that squared off in the regular season. The Tigers and Braves met in each team's first game of the season. Grambling State won that contest, 5-1 in five innings.
The Tigers will be looking to Marshawn Taylor, who collected many postseason honors, including Player of the Year. Taylor led the SWAC in batting average (.397) and in hits (77) this season. The Braves will be looking to first team All-SWAC second baseman Wallace Rios Jimenez. Jimenez was second on the Braves with a .319 batting average and tied for second in hits with 43. Jimenez also led the Braves in assists with 76.
Keep up with all the latest information on the 2017 SWAC Baseball Tournament, visit the central page.
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