Ready for some LSU baseball?

Kristian Garic
February 14, 2019 - 3:15 pm

After the gut punch of the Saints No Call game, one soothing factor for me is a looming LSU baseball season, that could produce special moments at Alex Box Stadium this spring and summer.  As most of you know, I’m a huge follower of college baseball…in particular LSU.  I love the game of baseball.  I grew up playing as it a kid.  And while I played football too, I wasn’t very good at it.  I was a better baseball player.  None the less, the college game is my preference over MLB for a number of reasons, if not only for the fact that it’s a pure passion play.  Let’s take a look at what could be a special championship season for the LSU Tigers and Coach Paul Mainieiri.

LSU opens the season Friday night at home in a round robin weekend series with ULM, Army and Air Force.  When you scan the Tigers’ roster, it’s hard to raise questions of concern.  Weekend starting pitchers?  Check!  Quality arms out of the Bullpen?  A closer out of the Bullpen?  Check and Check!  Experience on defense?  Oh, you better believe it!  What about the lineup?  Enough power, and clutch hitting?  Abso-freaking-lutely!  Okay, so you think you found it, the weakness?   No speed on the base paths, right?  Insert the laughing so hard I’m crying emoji here.  The Tigers feature one of fastest lineups in the country with guys like Antoine Duplantis, Zach Watson and Josh Smith.  Do I need to continue?

LSU is either ranked No. 1 or No. 2 In the country, depending on which collegiate baseball poll you trust most.  However, the Tigers are experienced and talented in all the right places to be a championship contender.  It helps that Coach Paul Mainieri secured the top recruiting class in the country this winter.  With all of this said, here the few concerns I would have, that could derail a trip to the College World Series finals.

  1.  Will Eric Walker return to form?  The sophomore right hander missed all of last season with an elbow injury that required extensive reconstructive surgery, known as Tommy John surgery.  Walker was sensational as a Sunday starter as a freshman in 2017.  Typically, it takes pitchers a year removed from surgery to pitch again, and another year after that to get back to their original selves.  If Walker returns to form this season, there won’t be a better Sunday starter in the SEC and arguably the country.  I love watching him pitch.  Eric Walker is an assassin on the mound.\
  2. My second concern would be a big one, the bottom of the lineup that should feature sophomores Hal Hughes and Brandt Broussard has to improve.  In order to win and win big in college baseball the bottom third of the line has to produce at some point.
  3. Will the Tigers buy the hype?  The players were only allowed to talk about Omaha during media day two weeks ago, and are not allowed to say the word Omaha, until they punch their ticket to the CWS.  Coach Mainieri has done a great job in the past of keeping his ultra-talented Omaha worthy teams grounded and focused on the regular season.  I’m probably nitpicking here, but with 18 and 19 year old kids, it’s a genuine concern when they’re hearing how good they can be all over the sprawling campus of LSU.

I would be shocked if LSU doesn’t make it to Omaha.  Something terrible would have to go wrong.  I actually feel good enough to say that you can reasonably expect the Tigers to make their second College World Series final appearance in three seasons.  If you’re going to Omaha to support the Tigers, go ahead and plan on staying a while.  This team has the talent to perhaps be the best top to bottom team in the Mainieri era.

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