There's something different about Southern Conference baseball this season. Everybody's the same.
At a quick glance, it's business as usual. The top half of the conference is what it always is — Western Carolina, The Citadel, Elon, Charleston, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.
Throw semi-recent addition Samford into that mix, and you could pull names out at random to decide who will be competing for the conference title in a given year.
The bottom of the league — Furman, Wofford, Davidson and UNC Greensboro — is just about right, too.
But the difference is that everybody's, well, fine.
The SoCon's RPI has hovered around 13th out of 32 conferences this season — not great but not horrible either, and not as high as it's grown accustomed — and the reason for that is two-fold.
The league has beat up on itself in conference, and has mixed some pretty good wins over high-RPI teams with some bad losses.
Even Western Carolina, the current SoCon frontrunner after a nasty 13-2 stretch over the last month or so, fits that mold. The Catamounts (30-17, 18-6 SoCon) have been consistent winners in the league, but are 12-11 out of conference.
Georgia Southern, which has been about as bad as WCU has been good over the last month, has great wins against Florida, Georgia, Xavier, Indiana (one of its four non-conference losses), Mercer and Georgia Tech, but has lately been hammered by the top half of the SoCon, which, in turn, has gotten hammered at times by the Woffords and UNCGs of the league.
So there's only one way, really, to characterize the SoCon, top to bottom, this season.
The league, much like GSU, has a lot of really, really good wins to balance a lot of really, really bad losses.
And that's why the league finds itself in the middle of the Division-I pack.
Even with WCU and The Citadel trying to create some separation at the moment, there's a lot to be taken from the season so far.
First and foremost, the likelihood of a SoCon team getting an at-large bid to the NCAA regionals is all but nonexistent (for now).
Second, it says everybody is similar. There's a lot of pretty good pitching, and a lot of streaky hitting in the SoCon.
Third, it means that nobody is safe. Not today, not on Friday night with the ace on the mound, and certainly not in the SoCon tournament, which is quickly approaching in just three weeks.
That could be a blessing in disguise, especially to fans of the league.
Of the eight teams that get a spot in the league tournament, anybody can win it, especially if Furman gets the No. 8 seed, which is exactly what would happen if the season ended today.
It's often said that money should be bet on the team that is the hottest heading into a tournament, and that couldn't be more true in the SoCon this year.
Furman was arguably the hottest team in February.
Georgia Southern was the hottest team in March.
April has gone to WCU.
There are a dozen games or so left for everybody in the Southern Conference.
If I was a betting man, well, I'd be broke. But I'd also turn my attention to the team with the best record over the next three weeks before I'd even pretend to guess who's going to be the 2013 Southern Conference champion.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.