For most coaches, figuring out your starting pitcher is a combination of gut feeling and routine. With the Sun Belt's new three-team pool play tournament, it's a little less cut-and-dry.
This year, the conference shed it's double-loss elimination bracket for pool play and a four team championship bracket. The conference's 12 teams are split into four pools of three, the four winners advance to a four-team bracket. The tie-breaker in pool play goes to the seed.
"I prefer a double elimination tournament. They're more exciting and you get to decide you own destiny," said head coach Matt Deggs. "To play pool play, it's hard to do with three teams in a pool. I've done it before with four teams before and you're guaranteed three games, this your guaranteed two and I bet half of them won't matter."
With just three teams in each pool, however, a lot of games could be meaningless this week. If a teams wins two games, they advance whether or not the rest of the pool has even played two games. Case in point, Appalachian State and Texas State play each other on Tuesday. They are in pool "C" with Louisiana. If Texas State were to beat App, they could clinch the pool title Wednesday when they face the Cajuns in what would be Louisiana's SBC Tournament opener.
Louisiana will play both teams, but at the end of the day, the only game that really matters is the one against the team who won and that means holding off on lineup and rotation decisions until the Tuesday night.
"The smartest thing to do is you have to throw your best arm against the team that wins on Tuesday. So we'll see who that is and who we go with,"said Deggs.
Louisiana is in a seat of luxury, the tie break falls with the higher seed. Since the Cajuns won the Sun Belt West, they own a top seed. Louisiana strung together three-straight series wins to end the year (two in conference) bucking their mid-season slump.
"I feel good with how we've played and it's all about getting hot at the right time," said pitcher Carter Robinson. "The best team isn't going to win the World Series, or the College World Series. At the end of the day, it's who gets hot at the right time."
No. 1 East – South Alabama
No. 4 West – Little Rock
No. 6 East – Coastal Carolina
No. 2 East – Georgia Southern
No. 3 West – ULM
No. 5 East – Georgia State
No. 1 West – Louisiana
No. 4 East – App State
No. 6 West – Texas State
No. 2 West – UTA
No. 3 East – Troy
No. 5 West – Arkansas State
Tuesday, May 25
Game 1 – No. 4 Little Rock vs. No. 6 Coastal Carolina, 9:00 a.m.
Game 2 – No. 3 Troy vs. No. 5 Arkansas State, 12:30 p.m.
Game 3 – No. 3 ULM vs. No. 5 Georgia State, 4:00 p.m.
Game 4 – No. 4 App State vs. No. 6 Texas State, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 26
Game 5 – No. 1 South Alabama vs. No. 6 Coastal Carolina, 11:00 a.m.
Game 6 – No. 2 Georgia Southern vs. No. 5 Georgia State, 3:00 p.m.
Game 7 – No. 1 Louisiana vs. No. 6 Texas State, 7:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 27
Game 8 – No. 1 South Alabama vs. No. 4 Little Rock, 11:00 a.m.
Game 9 – No. 2 UTA vs. No. 5 Arkansas State, 3:00 p.m.
Game 10 – No. 1 Louisiana vs. No. 4 App State, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 28
Game 11 – No. 2 UTA vs. No. 3 Troy, 3:00 p.m.
Game 12 – No. 2 Georgia Southern vs. No. 3 ULM, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 29
Semifinal 1 – Pool A Winner vs. Pool D Winner, 12:00 p.m.
Semifinal 2 – Pool B Winner vs. Pool C Winner, 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 30
Championship Game – Semifinal 1 Winner vs. Semifinal 2 Winner, 1:00 p.m.
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