SEC Opening Weekend PrimerAnalysis
It’s finally here, SEC fans. Opening Weekend 2018.
To get you ready for this weekend’s SEC action, we take an in-depth look at several topics and headliners, including:
• Best opening weekend matchup
• Best pre-conference team
• Best player
• Best pitcher
• Best transfer
• Best freshman
• Rising prospect
• Biggest surprise
• Biggest disappointment
• I’ve got my eye on … what?
Best Opening Weekend Matchup
No. 4 Kentucky at No. 5 Arkansas
The Wildcats are the hottest team in the SEC, and hit the road this weekend to face an Arkansas team coming off a midweek series sweep over long-time rival Texas. While UK has a solid pair of weekend starters in Sean Hjelle and Justin Lewis entering the weekend, it will be without lefty Zack Thompson, who will miss some time because of a flexor strain. This is bad timing for the Wildcats, who hope to tame Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin, among other this weekend at Baum Stadium. Arkansas wiry righthander Blaine Knight is off to a solid start the first four weeks with an 0.78 ERA in 23 innings, along with 21 strikeouts and four walks. A big key to the weekend for the Hogs could be Preseason All-American Dominic Fletcher. Fletcher entered the season with high expectations. And though he’s had a couple of huge hits the first four weeks, he’s only hitting .190 with a .264 OBP, 16 strikeouts and seven walks. Yeah, it’s safe to say he needs to be better, beginning this weekend.
Also keep an eye on …
No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 15 Auburn: Fresh off a no-hitter against Northeastern, Casey Mize takes the mound against another quality offensive lineup in the Aggies. Logan Foster is off to a terrific start for A&M, hitting .385 with five homers and 25 RBIs, along with better control of the zone, while Zach DeLoach (.338) is a talented freshman and juco transfer Michael Helman (.378) is a versatile player who continues to make a strong impact.