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Sun Belt Conference report for May 8

It might at first glance seem mathematically impossible, or at least improbable, but of the 14 teams in the Sun Belt Conference, 9 currently have a winning league record.

Coastal Carolina and Southern Miss are still the top two, but both now have identical 17-7 records. Texas State holds down third place at 15-9, Louisiana and Georgia Southern are both 14-10, James Madison is 12-10, Troy and Old Dominion both at 13-11, and App State closes out the winning records at 12-11.

The group below .500 begins with Georgia State and South Alabama, both 11-13, then Arkansas State at 6-16, finished out by ULM with 5-18 and Marshall with 5-19.

Only one Sun Belt team is ranked in this week's College Baseball Central Top 25, Coastal Carolina, at #10. However, Southern Miss collected the fourth-most points among the 14 other teams receiving votes.

As in the previous two weekends, Coastal remained a leader by taking two out of three, this time at home over App State. The pattern also repeated with them dropping the series opener on Friday, 11-0, but rebounding to win the next two, 6-5 in 10 innings Saturday and 11-4 Sunday.

And, like they also did the previous week, Southern Miss gained another game on Coastal, and moved into a first place tie, by sweeping another series at home, running their win streak to 10 straight by putting up a half dozen runs each day on South Alabama for a pair of 6-4 wins on both Friday and Saturday, followed by a 6-1 series finale on Sunday.

Texas State was the latest SBC team to move up in the standings thanks to a home sweep, beating visting Georgia State 8-7, 8-2, and 7-5. Louisiana also enjoyed a sweep over in-state rival ULM, by winning all three on the road, 8-4 Friday, 12-4 Saturday, and a 10-0 run-rule score shortened to 6 innings on Sunday. Georgia Southern matched the Louisiana record despite losing two of three on the road to Troy, 15-7 Friday and 16-5 Saturday, before salvaging Sunday, 9-7.

James Madison broke out the road brooms too, sweeping three over Marshall by scores of 13-6 Friday, 7-3 Saturday, and 8-4 Sunday. Old Dominion went on the road to Arkansas State and came away with two out of three, winning Friday 19-14 and Saturday 3-0, before the Red Wolves prevailed 12-4 Sunday.

In statistical categories for conference games only through May 7, Coastal Carolina remains first with a team batting average of .309, and Georgia Southern is right behind them at .308, with no other team at or above .300.

Southern Miss has moved from third to first in team ERA, at 5.01, with five others still below 6.00 in Louisiana (5.22), Coastal (5.33), Troy (5.47), Old Dominion (5.66), and Texas State (5.92).

Coastal Carolina has 51 home runs to continue leading that team stat, with Troy (49) leading a trio of teams in the 40s, including Georgia State (47) and surging Southern Miss (42).

Louisiana continues to lead in fielding percentage at .982, compared to .972 for both Coastal and Georgia Southern. Georgia State and App State are both right behind at .971. The stolen base gap for Louisiana just continues to grow, now at 75-99 with only Old Dominion (40-43) and Coastal (39-45) trailing by fewer than 40 swipes.

James Madison continues to lead the SBC in striking out the fewest times, 153, and there’s a 30 or more gap there as well, with Southern Miss (183) leading a group of five teams with Ks in the 180s.

Individually, for players with a qualifying number of conference plate appearances, the leading hitter in the SBC remains Jesse Sherrill of Georgia Southern, whose conference BA is .509, but overall interestingly drops to .429. No other hitter is currently at .400 or better in SBC-only games, but Nick Monistere of Southern Miss (.395) is just below the coveted threshold.

In home run leaders, Shane Lewis of Troy (15) has moved past last week’s leader, Slade Wilks of Southern Miss (14), with three others in double figures with 10 each: Jarrett Brown of Georgia Southern, Nick Lucky of Coastal, and Golston Gillespie of App State.

Payton Eeles (21-24) of Coastal maintains his lead in stolen bases, with only Heath Hood of Louisiana (18-20) and James Cameron of Georgia State (16-18) currently fewer than 10 swipes behind.

Tanner Hall of Southern Miss held onto the pitching lead in ERA at 2.29, followed again by Kyler Carmack of Arkansas State at 2.37. They are the only two at or below 3.00, with a group of seven under 4.00.

In wins, Hall remains tied with Xander Hamilton from App State, both now at 7, with Sam Armstrong of Old Dominion at 6, and four others at 5. Hamilton also remains the strikeout king so far with 74 Ks, followed closest now by Grayson Stewart of Troy with 63.

In three-game conference series coming up this penultimate conference weekend:

Southern Miss (32-15) travels to ULM (16-32) at Monroe, LA

Coastal Carolina (30-16) travels to South Alabama (23-24) at Mobile, AL

Texas State (33-16) travels to Louisiana (32-17) at Lafayette, LA

Georgia Southern (24-23) travels to Georgia State (24-25) at Atlanta, GA

James Madison (27-20) travels to Old Dominion (30-17) at Harrisonburg, VA

Troy (33-16) travels to Marshall (16-29) at Huntington, WV

App State (23-21) hosts Arkansas State (16-28) at Boone, NC


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