Hogs have already secured the top overall seed in the NCAAT. Rest up and be ready for June. The only thing that matters is getting to/winning the CWS.
Those are just a few things commonly prefaced before many Hog fans say “the SEC Tournament doesn’t matter”.
Perhaps those statements are factual, and even true to many fans. But not so to players and coaches at this level. This Tournament does in fact matter.
Vanderbilt came to Hoover in 2019 in basically in the same position as these Hogs (only difference is/was, Vandy was a lock to be a 1-3 seed in 2019, not necessarily #1). The ‘Dores won SEC regular season, won in Hoover, then won their 2nd natty as the 2 national seed.
No practice or scrimmage can simulate real game conditions. Especially conditions of the postseason. Coach referenced more than once, “the big stage”, when describing the SECT. More than half of our regulars have never played on a stage as big as the SECT, much less a Regional, SR, or CWS. Same can be said for many of the arms we are relying on to bring home the Hogs’ first baseball natty.
Lockhart’s success against UGA could provide the needed experience and confidence to put him where we need him to be in late June. Tole might need to get an out or 2 next month, and now has some “big stage” experience.
Even guys that have been there before can use Hoover to improve. Goodheart needs reps to find his confidence again. (I sat 10 feet from the Hogs’ dugout Wednesday, and saw/heard every reaction the players had after every at bat. These at bats very much matter to Goodheart).
More than anything, the game matters to these guys, and winning certainly matters. Every game experience/success builds on the next one. The Hogs are locked in on the NEXT game, not the one after that.
Like a former coach of mine habitually said, “If winning didn’t matter, they wouldn’t have a scoreboard “… winning in Hoover certainly matters to these Hogs.