As the Southern Conference baseball season hits the homestretch, there are tight races at the top and bottom of the league.
At the top, The Citadel clings to a half-game lead over College of Charleston with two weekends left in the regular season, and there are three other teams within 3 1/2 games.
And near the bottom, eighth-place Wofford has a two-game lead on UNC Greensboro in the race to qualify for the eight-team SoCon tournament, set for May 26-30 at Riley Park.
With five teams competing for the SoCon's projected three bids to the 64-team NCAA Regionals, the regular season title might mean more than a bauble for the trophy case. It would also be an important line on the resume for an at-large bid (the SoCon tournament champion receives an automatic bid).
Baseball American's latest projection has second-place College of Charleston (36-14, 19-8) as "safely in" the field of 64, with first-place The Citadel (31-20, 18-6) and fourth-place Elon (34-19, 17-10) listed as "on the bubble (in)." Projected as "on the bubble (out)" are third-place Georgia Southern (30-19, 16-8) and sixth-place Western Carolina (30-16, 12-11).
"Charleston solidified its position with a huge series win this past weekend against The Citadel," writes Baseball American's Aaron Fitt. "The Bulldogs have lost back-to-back series at Samford and C of C, and a mid-April series loss to Indiana State doesn't help, either. The Citadel probably needs to win its last two series (against UNC Greensboro and Georgia Southern) to secure an at-large spot."
The latest projection at sebaseball.com also has three SoCon teams in the regionals, with College of Charleston a No. 2 seed at a South Carolina regional; Elon a No. 3 seed at a Florida regional; and The Citadel a No. 3 seed at host Coastal Carolina.
The Citadel has six SoCon games left, a series at home this weekend against UNC Greensboro (20-27, 7-17) and a key final series next week at Georgia Southern. That means the Bulldogs can max out at 24-6 in the SoCon.
College of Charleston has three games left, a series starting today at Appalachian State (32-12-1, 11-11-1). The best the Cougars can do in the league is 22-8, but Charleston owns a tiebreaker edge over the Bulldogs.
On the other end of the standings, Wofford (17-32, 9-15) and UNC Greensboro are fighting for the eighth and final spot in the SoCon tourney. Wofford is at Furman this weekend.
Charleston Southern (17-31, 6-14) is in eighth place, clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead over UNC Asheville for the eighth and final spot in the league tournament. The Bucs are at UNC Asheville (12-32, 5-16) this weekend, and finish the regular season next week at home against High Point (24-25, 10-11).
First-place Coastal Carolina (42-6, 20-0) has a lock on an at-large bid and is projected as a national seed and regional host. Liberty (37-12, 18-3), vying for an at-large bid, hosts Coastal Carolina this weekend.