Throughout the 2021 Arkansas baseball season, Patrick Wicklander and Lael Lockhart both developed into pitchers that the team could count on.
However, Wicklander’s season didn’t get off to a great start. Battling back after getting a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes during the summer. His first solid outing for the Hogs this season was in game one of the Alabama series.
“Coach Matt Hobbs goes hey get hot you’re in the game,” says Wicklander. “So I went down warmed up and everything. It kind of clicked there for me. Threw five plus innings there. After I came out, coach Hobbs goes hey you got the start next Friday.”
As for Lockhart, his best outing was in the SEC Tournament when he threw a near perfect game against Georgia.
“So once I came out there in the 6th or 7th inning I was like oh we got a chance at a perfect game here,” says Lockhart. “That last guy comes up to pitch, I think he jumps on first pitch fast ball. Hit it in that 6 hole. I was just praying he tripped or did something out the box.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t trip. But the Hogs still won the game and ultimately the programs first ever SEC Tournament Title.
“Couldn’t ask for too much more,” says Lockhart. “Especially beating Tennessee that was a fun little thing to do on top of it.”
“SEC is arguably the hardest conference in the country,” says Wicklander. “So just being able to win it during the season and just go through the tournament and win, it’s just it’s just really cool feeling.”
Both guys say another cool feeling, is playing inside a packed Baum Walker Stadium. And being a transfer from Houston, Lockhart says there’s no doubt he made the right choice in coming to Arkansas.
“My mom still gives me a hard time about it that I’m not in purple and gold but there’s something about playing here,” says Lockhart. “Because I couldn’t explain it to her enough, cant explain it to friends. Everything that goes on here. What makes this place what it is and how truly special it is. I think what makes it head and shoulders above everybody else is the fan base.”
Wicklander agrees, adding “I miss watching those guys run in to get front row in the hog pen. But just being able to hear the roar of the crowd with Charlie’s home run, I was in the bullpen and I couldn’t talk to Noland who was two feet from me. So just having that fan base behind you and it’s not just however many are in the stadium it’s the whole state. That’s what separates Arkansas from the rest of the country.”