Three players to watch and the best teams in Southeastern Conference softball _lowres

Associated Press file photo by SUE OGROCKI -- Florida players celebrate after defeating Oklahoma for the national championship last season.



Not only does Haeger lead the No. 1 team in the country with 28 RBIs at the plate this season, she also leads it in the circle with a conference-best .45 ERA.

ALEX HUGO, IF/C, Georgia

The reigning NCAA home run leader and an NFCA All-American, Hugo has returned to the top of nearly every offensive category in the SEC, including a league-leading 1.035 slugging percentage.


McCleney’s .518 batting average is “only” fourth in the SEC, but as a member of the U.S. national team, she is the Crimson Tide’s not-so-secret weapon.

THE CONFERENCE (in predicted order of finish)

No. 1 FLORIDA (22-0)

The defending national champions are at it again with a league-low 21 runs allowed on a 0.57 ERA, earning them a near-unanimous No. 1 spot in the NFCA coaches poll.

No. 5 LSU (22-0)

The Tigers are out to their best start in program history after outscoring opponents 176-27 so far. They’ll challenge Florida for their first conference title since 2004.

No. 4 ALABAMA (15-4)

Three of the Tide’s four losses came to top-10 teams, but getting Florida at home and not playing LSU at all could help Bama to another run at the Women’s College World Series.

No. 8 GEORGIA (19-2)

The Bulldogs are one of the SEC’s most efficient teams this season, hitting a league-leading .412 batting average, while holding opponents to a league-low .136 average.

No. 14 AUBURN (21-1)

It seems like every time the Tigers step to the plate, the ball goes out of the park. Auburn leads the SEC with 45 home runs, 11 more than the next-closest team. They could sneak up on a few teams.

No. 11 TENNESSEE (11-3)

Intense snowfall in the region has halted the Volunteers’ season. It’ll be difficult to regain that momentum once they finally start SEC play.

No. 10 KENTUCKY (13-3)

After losing five seniors from last season’s WCWS team, the Wildcats will have to pull some upsets if they want to return to Oklahoma City.

No. 20 TEXAS A&M (14-4)

In most conferences, a top-20 program would be expected to finish near the top of the standings. Unfortunately for the Aggies, that puts them near the bottom of the SEC.

No. 21 MISSOURI (10-3)

The Tigers are last in the conference with 101 hits and 69 runs this season after playing fewer games than any other program. A lack of games doesn’t explain the last-place .288 batting average, though.


The Bulldogs earned some votes with a win over No. 23 Notre Dame last weekend, but they’re still toward the back of the pack in the SEC. Their 54 runs allowed are third-worst in the league.


The Gamecocks have some power in their lineup with 25 home runs this season, but that isn’t enough to carry them through the SEC.

OLE MISS (13-5)

Trips to Alabama and LSU this season will provide a less-than-warm welcome for former McNeese State coach Mike Smith in his first season with the Rebels.


The Razorbacks have allowed more hits (130) and more runs (87) than any other team in the conference. That may be due in part to the league-leading 27 errors they’ve committed.