The Southeastern Conference has altered the format of its annual baseball tournament, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced today. This will mark the first major change to the event’s format since 1996.
The 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament, which will be held in Hoover, Ala., at Regions Park for the 15th consecutive year, will increase to 10 teams and will begin on Tuesday, May 22nd. The tournament will continue to follow a format that is modeled in a similar fashion to previous SEC Tournament and College World Series brackets. The 10 teams are seeded 1-10 with the two divisional champions guaranteed of the top two seeds and first-round byes. Games played from Tuesday thru Friday are double elimination with single elimination starting on Saturday. The tournament field will include the top teams from the SEC’s Eastern and Western Divisions plus eight at-large bids seeded 3-10 based on conference winning percentage.
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The SEC has also announced the beginning of a Baseball Legends Program, modeled similarly after the popular ‘Legend’s and ‘Greats’ programs that surround the SEC Football Championship Game and the SEC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. Four former SEC baseball standouts will be honored on-site as part of the annual baseball tournament each year beginning in May of 2012.
A squad from the SEC Tournament has advanced to four consecutive National Championship Series in Omaha, winning the last three NCAA titles (LSU 2009; South Carolina 2010 and 2011). Nearly 100 first-round picks in the Major League Baseball Draft have played in SEC Tournament since 1991.
The 2012 event will be held May 22-27 at Regions Park. Tickets will go on sale in February.
The 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament drew nearly 100,000 fans. Six times time in the last nine years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance. The 2010 event drew close to 130,000 fans, an all-time record. The SEC is scheduled to keep its baseball tournament in Hoover at Regions Park through 2016 under the current contract.