Mississippi State skipper John Cohen joined the rest of the league’s head coaches on the SEC Teleconference Monday to discuss the SEC Tournament.
Here’s a transcript of Cohen’s time on the call…
Cohen: “Certainly our kids are excited about playing in Hoover. We feel like we’ve had some recent success there. We’d love to have the bye and the one extra day but our kids feel good about playing a real good Georgia team. We had a nice weekend at Alabama. You always feel in a one-run game that you should win but having won two out of three against a really good Alabama team and finishing 11-4 the second half of the season, I think our kids are playing well.
“I think they feel good about themselves and like every other team in this tournament, baseball is now their full-time jobs. School for now is in the rear view mirror. It’s a neat time of year and the temperatures are warming up. The kids are very focused on the task at hand and we’re looking forward to this opportunity.”
Do the players feel they play well in larger size parks?
Cohen: “I think (Hoover Metropolitan Stadium) plays more like home. Dudy Noble (Field) plays pretty big. In a bigger ballpark you have to be much more line drive, ground ball oriented. I think our team speed really plays to a big ballpark defensively because we can run to the ball pretty well. Balls seem to stay in the air longer in these bigger ballparks.
“I think that helps but you’ve still got to go out there and do it. It all starts on the mound and I think we’ve been so good on the mound in the second half. Obviously what Ross Mitchell has done for us, we’ve actually had better starts than what we had a year ago when we went deep into postseason play.
“We really like our bullpen and you’re bullpen really helps you in tournament play. Jacob Lindgren has been fabulous for us out of the pen and (Jonathan) Holder has really come back strong in the second half. We’re excited about playing in a big ballpark for sure.”
How do you forget about missing out on the bye and moving on in the SEC Tournament?
Cohen: “Every team in the SEC is about bouncing back and moving on. Every team in the league has disappointments. We played Alabama and won two out of three, goodness gracious. Alabama earlier in the year swept Ole Miss. Ole Miss did a good job recovering from that and moving on.
“Everybody in our league gets punched in the mouth a little bit. You’ve got to bounce back. If we’d have won that game (Saturday), it changes some of the dynamics but at the same time that’s just how it works. Wes Rea hits a ball down the (left field) line that was two inches foul. If it’s fair we’ve got a great chance to sweep Alabama and tie for the Western Division Championship.
“It didn’t work that way and now we’ve got to focus on the most important part of the season which is the postseason. That’s all anybody remembers is what you do in the postseason. It’s important that we’re playing our best baseball heading into the postseason.”