College baseball in Mississippi has proven to be alive and well.
This weekend alone in Division I, the Ole Miss Rebels (46-15) won the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala., and the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (43-16) won the Conference USA Tournament in Biloxi. Ole Miss won the SEC West Division during the regular season, while Southern Miss won C-USA regular season title.
The SEC Championship enabled Ole Miss to host the four-team NCAA Region Tournament in Oxford as a region top seed and a No. 4 national seed, while Southern Miss is the second seed in the four-team Fayetteville Regional, which will be hosted by the University of Arkansas. Ole Miss also sealed up its 21st consecutive winning season, while Southern Miss has clinched its 17th consecutive winning season.
The Mississippi State University Bulldogs (31-25), after losing their first three games and finishing the month of March with a 14-15 overall record, have gone 17-10 in their last 27 games with series wins over Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida. This key stretch enabled the Bulldogs to earn a No. 2 seed in the four-team Tallahatchie Regional in Tallahatchie, Fla. this weekend. The Bulldogs will be in the NCAA Tournament for the 37th time in team history and will finish the year with their third consecutive winning season.
To round out the Division I side, the Jackson State University Tigers finished their year with a solid 34-18 record and ended up second in the East Division of Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Tigers also finished up with their 15th straight winning season.
Earlier in the year in Division II, the Delta State University Statesmen (42-11) and the Mississippi College Choctaws (36-17) made their impact as they both went to the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament in Lakeland, Fla. From April 28 to May 22, the Statesmen and Choctaws played each other six times with the two teams winning three games apiece. Out of those six games, two went into extra innings and four were decided by three runs or less.
DSU won the GSC regular season title, while MC won the GSC Tournament for the first time in school history. MC broke a string of three straight losing seasons and earned its most wins in a season since 2010 when the team went 39-10. DSU finished the year with its 35th consecutive winning season. Out of those 35 years, DSU has finished a season with a .600 winning percentage or better 30 times.
One thing I did hate was the regional set up in Division II. I wish the region tournament were like the set up in Division I where you spread the teams out and not have the teams in the same conference play each other in the same regional. It seems like having teams from the same conference in a regional bracket cuts down on the chance of having all the best teams compete in the Division II World Series. Division I does a better job at making sure you have all of the best teams in the World Series.
Also in Division II, some region brackets had eight teams; some had seven and others six. The region tournament DSU and MC competed in had seven teams. I know there are financial and other considerations that go into this set up in Division II, but I would love a change. It would probably be good to see four-team regionals. That might cut down on the time a team has to be on the road if the weather gets bad at the host spot. DSU and MC spent close to a solid week in Lakeland, Fla. due to rainy weather and I imagine that's not cheap. It's just a thought. If the budget is there for D2 teams maybe make regionals eight teams with teams spread out. Many people can gripe about the football postseason in Division I but in baseball, D1 gets it right.
In Division III, the Millsaps Majors turned in a winning season as they finished the year at 25-19 and went to the semifinals of the Southern Athletic Association Tournament. The season was an improvement from its 19-23 campaign in 2017.
Moving on to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, the Mississippi University for Women Owls concluded their inaugural season in baseball with a trip to the USCAA Small College World Series. The Owls went a respectable 2-2 in the series and finished the year with a winning record of 21-15. This team from Columbus should be good for years to come.
In the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the William Carey Crusaders (36-25) earned a trip to the NAIA National Baseball Tournament with the Crusaders hosting a regional in Hattiesburg. The Crusaders went 3-2 in their regional as they just missed a chance at the NAIA World Series by losing to St. Thomas (56-9) 6-3 in the title game of the tournament. The Crusaders finished the year with their 11th straight winning season and 33rd consecutive season of finishing .500 or better. Out of those 33 seasons, the 2007 season (29-29) was the only year in that streak that the Crusaders failed to finish above. .500. The Blue Mountain Toppers also had a solid year in NAIA as well by going 29-23 to finish with their second straight winning season.
NCAA Division I Baseball Regionals June 1-4
Game 1: Missouri State vs. Tennessee Tech, 2 p.m.
Game 2: St. Louis vs. Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m.
Game 3: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser, 12 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 5 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 6 p.m.
Game 1: Arkansas vs. Oral Roberts, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Southern Miss vs. Dallas Baptist, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m.
Game 4:Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Game 3 vs. Game 4 loser 2 p.m.
Game 6, Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 6:30 p.m.
Game 1: MSU vs. Oklahoma St., 12 p.m.
Game 2: FSU vs. Samford, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 12 p.m.
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 5 p.m.
Game 5: Game 4 loser vs. Game 3 winner, 12 p.m.
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 7: If necessary, 1 p.m.