The SEC baseball season begins Friday night, and once again, the competition for the championship will be heated in whats, arguably, college baseballs best and deepest conference.
Heres a glance at the 14 teams as they enter conference play, with the teams listed in order of where the SEC coaches predicted in the preseason that they would finish.
In its 22 previous seasons as a league member, South Carolina has won the SEC East six times in addition to three regular-season conference championships and one tournament title.
Baseball America ranking: No. 1
Key players: C Grayson Greiner, P Jordan Montgomery
Note: As the nations only unbeaten team, the Gamecocks look like theyre on a mission to get back to Omaha for the fourth time in five seasons.
Ranking: No. 7
Key players: P Tyler Beede, 3B Xavier Turner
Note: With a strong pitching staff led by Beede, wholl likely be one of the top five players selected in the MLB draft, the Commodores are national title contenders.
Key players: 2B Casey Turgeon, P Logan Shore
Note: After the Gators posted a 29-30 season in 2013, when they still reached the NCAA tournament, they are hoping to find more consistency in a tough division.
Ranking: No. 20
Key players: P/1B A.J. Reed, OF Austin Cousino
Note: After starting the 2013 season with a 22-6 mark, the Wildcats collapsed to finish 30-25 and miss the NCAA tournament. Dont expect that to happen again.
Ranking: No. 22
Key players: SS A.J. Simcox, P Andy Cox
Note: The nations biggest surprise, the Volunteers are resurgent under third-year coach Dave Serrano, whos starting to do what he did at UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.
Key players: OF Hunter Cole, P Robert Tyler
Note: Under new coach Scott Stricklin, who took Kent State to the 2012 CWS, the Bulldogs have won nine consecutive games.
Key players: 1B Kendall Keeton, P Keaton Steele
Note: The Tigers surprised everyone with their big season in SEC football, but theyre not likely to pull off that kind of shocker in baseball.
Ranking: No. 8
Key players: P Aaron Nola, SS Alex Bregman
Note: Last year, the Tigers returned to the CWS for the first time in four seasons, and it wouldnt be a surprise if they went back-to-back.
Ranking: No. 24
Key players: 1B Wes Rea, P Ross Mitchell
Note: A remarkable 2013 postseason run ended in the CWS championship finals when the Bulldogs came up short against UCLA. They return plenty of firepower.
Key players: P Daniel Mengden, 1B Cole Lankford
Note: The Aggies are nine wins from an all-time total of 2,500. They would be the 12th NCAA Division I team to reach that figure, and the first in the SEC.
Key players: 1B Austen Smith, P Spencer Turnbull
Note: With six consecutive wins, the Tide is rolling entering conference play in a bid to reach the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in Mitch Gaspards five seasons.
Key players: 2B Brian Anderson, P Jalen Beeks
Note: The Razorbacks, who have lost five of their past six games, picked a bad time to hit a skid with a road trip to Florida to start SEC play.
Ranking: No. 21
Key players: P Chris Ellis, C Will Allen
Note: Ellis, a big right-hander who hasnt allowed an earned run in 27 2/3 innings this season, figures to give the Gamecocks all they can handle on Friday.
Key players: 3B Damek Tomscha, P Keegan Thompson
Note: Despite early upheaval with players leaving the program, new coach Sunny Golloway, who came from Oklahoma, has led the Tigers to six wins in the past seven games.