Hoover magic is striking again for Alabama baseball in SEC Tournament

·3 min read

HOOVER — To muster some Hoover magic, you’re going to need some dirt.

Or more accurately, a willingness to dive in. Look no further than Alabama baseball first baseman Drew Williamson’s uniform. As he stepped to the stage postgame Wednesday, much of his frontside was covered in the exact same dirt that’s been a necessary ingredient in another unlikely Alabama postseason run at the Hoover Met.

Whether it was him trying to steal a base, Zane Denton beating the throw home or Tommy Seidl providing valuable baserunning to score on a wild throw to third base, Alabama showed it wasn't afraid to slide and do whatever it took to win.

“I don't think we're the team that can just sit up there and hit home runs all day long,” Williamson said, “so we kind of have to find a way to score runs when we can, move guys in: run, steal.”

Alabama’s ability to scrape out runs fueled yet another victory as the 11th-seeded Crimson Tide upset No. 3-seed Arkansas, 4-3. Now, Alabama (31-25) advances to play Friday at a time to be determined.

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It’s been a surprising performance in the SEC Tournament, considering Alabama wasn’t even a lock to make it heading into the final series of the regular season.

Then again, it’s not all that surprising. Just look to last year.

The Crimson Tide had lost its last four games heading into the postseason in 2021. Alabama entered the SEC Tournament as the 10th seed, making it appear as if an end to the season was not far away.

Then the Crimson Tide channeled some Hoover magic.

It beat No. 7 seed South Carolina before upsetting No. 2 seed Tennessee in the second round.

Fast-forward a year, Alabama has upset No. 6 seed Georgia and No. 3 seed Arkansas.

“I wish I knew if there was something different that we were doing in Hoover that we weren't doing somewhere else,” Alabama coach Brad Bohannon said. “We would be doing it in February and March, as well.”

Bohannon has heard stories about how, when Sewell-Thomas Stadium was being renovated in 2015, Alabama had to play in Hoover all season. Bohannon wasn’t coaching Alabama then, but he’s heard it wasn’t a great experience because of coursework and other elements.

“At this point I kind of want to move all our games back to Hoover,” Bohannon joked.

Bohannon won’t likely be getting his wish for a full season, but he’s got at least two more games in Hoover, a place that has favored Alabama and, for a second year in a row, might serve as a launching point to reaching the NCAA Tournament.

To reach the NCAA Tournament last year, Alabama needed only two SEC Tournament wins last year in addition to a 12-17 conference record, which it also had this year.

A week ago, that seemed almost out of the question. Alabama had lost its past five SEC series heading into the final one of the regular season against Arkansas.

Then the Crimson Tide beat the Razorbacks twice to win the series last week and now has two SEC Tournament wins. According to Baseball America, Alabama was one of the first four teams out before Wednesday’s win. The win against Arkansas should be enough for Alabama to make it, but it looks like one more win this weekend will all but secure the Crimson Tide's spot in the NCAA postseason for a second consecutive year.

Hoover magic has struck again.

Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at nkelly@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama baseball has found Hoover magic again in SEC Tournament