Baseball is a game of failures. It’s a game where even its best hitters fail over 60 percent of the time.
It’s a game that Tanner Mathis had to come to terms with, for perhaps the first time, last season.
And it’s because of that new-found understanding that Mathis has transformed himself into one of the top leadoff hitters in the Southeastern Conference this season — and he owes it to his freshman struggles.
It wasn’t a matter of ability that caused Mathis to see his playing time gradually decrease as the regular season went on, but an issue with confidence.
Following a blunder in the outfield during a 10-6 loss to Tennessee on April 4, 2010 — a game in which he also struck out twice — Mathis was replaced in the everyday lineup and did not return until the post-season.
In a game like baseball where confidence can mean everything, Mathis was lost.
That one performance magnified Mathis’ struggles to the point where it took several months for him to regain what had made him successful to start the season. (April 8, 2011, Page 6A)