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LSU’s top 10 preseason rankings continue

Coach Paul Mainieri's team is in the top 10 in five preseason polls and in the top five in three of them. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Coach Paul Mainieri’s team is in the top 10 in five preseason polls and in the top five in three of them. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

LSU is ranked No. 4 in the USA Today coaches poll released Thursday, giving the Tigers a top-10 ranking in five of the six major college baseball polls.

The sixth preseason poll – the writers rankings – has not been released.

Coach Paul Mainieri’s club begins the season with a three-game series against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

Vanderbilt topped the coaches poll. The Commodores, the defending national champions, are No. 1 in all five polls released. LSU and Vanderbilt are two of four SEC teams in the top 10 in the coaches poll. South Carolina is 10th, and Florida is No. 5.

Three more SEC teams are in the poll: No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 25 Mississippi State.

LSU in the other preseason polls:

LSU garners highest preseason ranking yet: No. 2

LSU begins the 2015 season as the second-best team in the nation, according to at least one outlet.

Paul Mainieri's club is No. 2, according to Baseball America. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Paul Mainieri’s club is No. 2, according to Baseball America. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

The Tigers are No. 2 in Baseball American’s preseason poll released Monday morning, their highest ranking of any preseason poll thus far.  LSU has been ranked as low as No. 9 among the four polls released.

Vanderbilt tops Baseball America’s preseason poll. The Tigers and Commodores do not meet in the regular season. The ‘Dores, the defending national champions, are No. 1 in all four polls released.

Florida, at No. 6, is the only other SEC team in the top 10 in Baseball America’s rankings. No. 13 South Carolina and No. 14 Mississippi State are the only two other SEC teams in the poll.

The Tigers began practice on Friday and open the season with a three-game weekend set against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

LSU enters the season having lost just two everyday starters from a lineup last year that led the squad to a No. 8 overall seed. Coach Paul Mainieri’s group enters the year with an unknown at starting pitcher. Four freshmen, part of the No. 1-ranked signing class, are expected to vie for starting weekends spots over the first month of the season.

LSU in the other preseason polls:

LSU pitcher Jared Poché set to start opening night, but Friday spot could be revolving door

Sophomore Jared Poché will likely begin the season as LSU’s Friday night starter, but the position could rotate between four hurlers before Southeastern Conference play starts.

Jared Poche returns for his sophomore year. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Jared Poche returns for his sophomore year. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Poché will start opening night on Feb. 13, coach Paul Mainieri said Friday at LSU baseball’s media day, but the coach could use four different starters on the four Fridays leading up to the SEC opener against Ole Miss March 13.

Returning starters Poché and senior Kyle Bouman and four highly touted freshmen – Alex Lange, Jake Godfrey, Jake Latz and Doug Norman – will vie for weekend starting jobs over the first month of the season. All five pitchers will start, at some point, during the first month of the season.

Bouman is a likely candidate to start during the midweek, and one of the four freshmen will likely become LSU’s closer, the coach said. Poché will be in LSU’s weekend starting rotation, Mainieri said.

The Tigers, ranked in the top 10 in three preseason polls released so far, begin the season with a three-game set against Kansas Feb. 13-15.

Mainieri hopes to settle on his weekend starting rotation by the time the Tigers head to the Houston College Classic, the final pre-SEC weekend.

LSU only lost two everyday starters from a lineup last season that batted .287 (47th nationally) and fielded .976 (18th). The Tigers have a seasoned bullpen, too.

The question marks look at third base, where Christian Ibarra leaves a void, and at starting pitcher, where a host of young arms will be relied upon. LSU lost ace Aaron Nola.

Other nuggets from LSU’s media day:

  • LSU released a preseason depth chart with the top four pitchers in the rotation as Poché, Lange, Godfrey and Latz. Here’s the full depth chart:

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LSU No. 7 in latest preseason rankings

Three preseason rankings down and LSU has another top-10 ranking.

Paul Mainieri and LSU are No. 7 in Perfect Game's top 25. (AP)

Paul Mainieri and LSU are No. 7 in Perfect Game’s top 25. (AP)

The Tigers are No. 7 in Perfect Game’s preseason top-25, released Tuesday night. LSU is the third-highest ranked Southeastern Conference team among seven ranked in the poll.

LSU is ranked No. 4 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason rankings and is No. 9 in D1Baseball’s poll.

The Tigers start full-squad practice for the 2015 season on Friday. They open the season with a three-game home series against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

 

LSU No. 9 in D1Baseball’s preseason top-25

LSU starts the season No. 9 in D1Baseball's top-25. (Alan Hannon)

LSU starts the season No. 9 in D1Baseball’s top-25. (Alan Hannon)

LSU is No. 9 in D1Baseball’s preseason top-25 released Monday morning.

The Tigers are the fourth-ranked Southeastern Conference team behind No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Florida and No. 5 South Carolina. There are eight SEC teams in the top-25, posted on the outlet’s redesigned website. LSU avoids Florida and Vanderbilt on the its 10-team conference schedule.

Houston, which beat LSU in last year’s Baton Rouge regional, begins the season ranked No. 7 in the poll. LSU was ranked No. 4 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll released a few weeks ago.

The Tigers start full-squad practice for the 2015 season on Friday. They open the season with a three-game home series against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

On The Record, Part II: LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri

Paul Mainieri enters Year 9. (Travis Spradling)

Paul Mainieri enters Year 9. (Travis Spradling)

Starting his ninth year as LSU’s baseball coach, Paul Mainieri, in Part 2 of a Q&A with The Advocate, discusses one of his biggest concerns of the 2015 season – the third base position.

He also suggests that freshman Michael Papierski could see immediate playing time at catcher and that first and second base may have rotating players like last year.

Finally, the coach reveals that he has enough confidence in his young pitching staff that reaching Omaha is a realistic expectation. Part I can be read here.

The Advocate: We talked in the fall, and you said third base is an important position. You lost senior Christian Ibarra from last year. Where does that spot stand right now?

Danny Zardon will take over at third base. (CATHERINE THRELKELD)

Danny Zardon will take over at third base. (CATHERINE THRELKELD)

Mainieri: Danny Zardon is going to get the first shot at third base. I think he’s earned it. Had a pretty good summer in Cape Cod. Had a really outstanding fall practice until the very last weekend in the Purple vs. Gold World Series. He didn’t play very well.

But he’s going to get the first shot at it, and I hope he’ll be our third basemen all year. The key is – and I’ve told him – he’s never going to hit good enough that if he doesn’t play great defense that he’ll be able to continue to be our starting third baseman. Defense is of premiere importance. Now, he’s capable of hitting .300 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs. If he does that, he’ll be the all-conference third baseman, but if he hits .250 with five homers and 30 RBIs he’s still capable of being our everyday third baseman if he plays great defense.

Losing Christian Ibarra is a concern for me because in today’s day and age, with these bats, more bunting, more slow choppers in the infield. When you get a double play opportunity, you have to make it. So the premium on defense, particularly on the left side of the infield, is at its highest level. But I have a lot of confidence that Danny has the talent to do it and that if he emotionally, mentally can do it consistently every day, he’ll be our starting third baseman.

The Advocate: First base, catcher and designated hitter. They’re kind of all connected, right?

Mainieri: I’d throw second base in there as well with that combination.

If you look at the catcher position… once again, I think we’ve got three quality catchers. We lost Tyler Moore, but we’ve added Michael Papierski. I think Kade Scivicque is better now than he’s ever been. Chris Chinea is a seasoned veteran. We can put him behind the plate as well.

I think we’re going to give an opportunity for Chinea’s bat to be in the lineup every game, and if he produces the runs, he’ll start every game all year. It’s hard to say every game, but he’ll be a regular. But he has to produce the runs for us, has to provide power, has to drive in runs. Kade Scivicque is a very calming influence for our team behind the plate. He’s a senior. I thought he caught really well towards the end of the year, came through with some big hits.

Paul Mainieri wants Chris Chinea's bat in the lineup every game.(HILARY SCHEINUK)

Paul Mainieri wants Chris Chinea’s bat in the lineup every game.(HILARY SCHEINUK)

I also think Michael Papierksi is a tremendous ballplayer. He’s ready to play for us right now, and if we didn’t thave Scivicque and Chinea … When Ty Ross came here, we didn’t have a Kade Scivicque or a Chinea. We had to throw Ross in there right away. Ross was not as ready to play every day as Michael Papierski is and, yet, Ross had to play every day. Papierski is a good player. We’re going to work him in there. I don’t know how much or how we’re going to do it yet. It’ll play out.

I’m very confident in all three of those guys behind the plate. The key question will be who do we want to DH compared to who do we want to play second base? We could go with Kramer Robertson at second, move Hale over to first base, make Chinea the semi-full time DH or we could leave Hale at second, play Chinea at first and that opens the DH job for a Greg Deichmann, a Beau Jordan, somebody like that.

This is all assuming that Danny Zardon gets the job done at third base. If he doesn’t, I could always flip Hale over to third or try Deichmann at third base and that could have an affect on these other guys.

It’s no different, really, than every other year. I don’t really want to identify nine games as starting players. What happens if a guy gets hurt or a guy doesn’t produce? It seems so traumatic to your team. I like to develop 11 or 12 guys, maybe even 13 guys, guys you could put in there any time and feel as though you’re putting a starting player in there. The key for me in managing the team is to … keep everybody sharp and give them enough playing time.

The Advocate: In the outfield, you have Laird and Stevenson. Left field, Fraley returns, but I know he didn’t have the best fall. Where does that position stand?

Mainieri: I’m not overly concerned about Fraley’s fall. I think Fraley is a heck of a ball player, and I think he’s a great athlete and he’s going to do some remarkable things. I wouldn’t say that he’s as locked in to the everyday job as Stevenson and Laird. Stevenson and Laird will play every day.

Jake Fraley will have competition in left field.

Jake Fraley will have competition in left field.

Fraley will be determined by his production, but I have this weird feeling that a kid like Jared Foster, who struggled all year last year but is really such a super athlete – think he might have concerned himself a little bit too much with the draft and some other things last year. There’s a little extra level of maturity this year. I could see a platoon potential situation.

I also really like Beau Jordan. I think Beau Jordan is going to be an everyday player at LSU. I’m not sure when. He’s just a gritty, hard-nosed, competitive kid and I love him to death. His brother, Bryce, is hanging in the periphery as well.

And then, I think, Chris Sciambra gives us a very good utility outfielder who can play any of the positions. Whenever you stick Chris in there, he just does the job for you. He’s just been a great security blanket for our team. He’s been a real big contributor for us.

The Advocate: Given the youth of this team, especially at pitcher, what are the realistic expectations?

Mainieri: Every year you’re going to have youth. It’s just a matter of which part. Next year the youth is going to be in our everyday lineup and we’re going to have a veteran staff. You don’t hold on to players. They don’t sign 10 year contracts around here. They come and go.

Every year is a little bit different than the year before and you just adapt to it. I’ve never been afraid to play freshmen. I’d rather play an inexperienced, more talented player than an experienced, not-as-talented player. If experience was the only factor, we would have never sent a man to the moon. You have to bite the bullet and jump in at some point.

When we played in Omaha two years ago, Bregman, Laird and Stevenson were all freshmen – a third of our starting lineup. This year’s team, if I can compare it to any team in my mind, is back when I coached at Notre Dame.

In 2002, we lost a pitcher like Aaron Nola from the year before. We lost some really key guys. And the next year, we had a veteran team, but we counted on freshman pitchers. We had three freshmen in our top four, and they pitched us to Omaha. They pitched us to Omaha. They hadn’t done that in 45 years, and we did it, really, with freshmen leading the way, with one pitcher that had a little bit of the experience in there. Our top two starters were freshmen. It gives me hope that it can be done with freshman pitchers.

This group of freshman pitchers … they just give me a very confident feeling. It’s not just their ability. It’s the way they carry themselves. They’re very confident, very poised. They’re all very intelligent, and I know we’ve got the right pitching coach working with them. I know he’s going to get the best out of those kids.

I’m very confident that our lineup will be as good as anybody’s in the country. That doesn’t mean we’re going to score 10 runs a game. In today’s era of baseball, that just doesn’t happen. It’s going to be a solid defensive team. I think we’ve got really good speed. Think we’ve got good hitters. It’s going to be a formidable lineup.

And if these freshman pitchers and those veteran pitchers do the job, my expectation as always is go to Omaha and play for the national championship. I don’t see why we should have any different goal this year.

On The Record: LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri

Paul Mainieri's team will begin the season No. 4 in at least one of the major preseason polls. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Paul Mainieri’s team will begin the season No. 4 in at least one of the major preseason polls. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

In a little more than a month, the LSU baseball team begins the 2015 season with its usual lofty expectations.

The Tigers were ranked No. 4 in at least one major preseason poll, and they welcomed in this summer a signing class that many outlets named the best in the nation.

Coach Paul Mainieri, entering his ninth season as coach, sat down with The Advocate for a two-part Q&A.

In Part 1, the coach looked back at a season last year that ended with a disappointing loss in a home regional. He then turned to 2015. He’ll have to replace former ace Aaron Nola, and he might have a full freshman weekend rotation.

In Part 2, set to post Sunday, Mainieri touches on the third base position, where sophomore Danny Zardon is expected to replace Christian Ibarra, and he discusses how interconnected spots are at first base, second base, catcher and designated hitter.

The Advocate: Years from now, when someone asks you to describe the 2014 season, what will you say?

Mainieri: It’s really like every season except for 2009. I’ve been coaching for 32 years and one time I got to hold the trophy up after winning the last game of the year. Whenever you don’t hold the trophy up, the season ends at a disappointment.

I always say how lucky football coaches are. The TCU coach can be so disappointed that they don’t make the playoffs, but that also means that got to end their season with a win. Had they made the playoffs, it’s quite possible they would have ended their season with a loss and all anybody wants to talk about is how they lost the last game of the year.

Paul Mainieri was anticipating LSU hosting Texas in a super regional before a stunning home regional loss. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Paul Mainieri was anticipating LSU hosting Texas in a super regional before a stunning home regional loss. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

What is there, 38 bowl games? Thirty-eight coaches get to finish the season happy with the win. Where as in baseball, one coach, one school, one group of players gets to finish the season fulfilled, totally content with the way the season went.

It’s kind of sad in some regards because it diminishes all of the great accomplishments, all of the great things that happened through the course of the year because all anybody ever wants to talk about is the very last thing that happened. If you don’t win that last game of the year, not only did you lose the last game, but you’ve lost two games in a double-elimination format in the last weekend of the year.

This is why I’ve always said you have to have the talent and you have to be really good, but you also have to be really good at the right time because if you’re bad one weekend it ends up ending your season but you also have to have some luck as well. Anybody who doesn’t believe there has to be a little bit of luck just doesn’t understand. It doesn’t matter how good your are – you’ve got to have some breaks too.

I’m not taking anything away from Houston – they beat us fair and square. But in the eighth inning when they scored four runs against us, they really didn’t hit any balls hard. The balls just seemed very fortuitous in where they were hit. They tried to bunt and guy chops one off the end of the bat. We have a strange call. Been coaching for 30-something years and never seen obstruction called on a pitcher trying to field a ball before. Kind of changed the complexion of the inning.

And then (Alex) Bregman hits a ball in the 10th inning … looks like it’s going to be gone, certainly a leadoff double for us to win right there and the guy makes a miraculous catch.

The next night, of course, was just a terrible night in every respect, but we should have won the game and the tournament the first night. I’m forever going to think we’re going to play Texas in a super regional, how epic that would have been in Alex Box Stadium with a chance to go to Omaha, but those things didn’t happen because the season ended the way that it did.

You can’t sit here and say that there aren’t some regrets because there are. You feel like the season ended sooner than it should have. We were good enough to go to Omaha. Unfortunately, whether it was bad breaks or whatever you want to say the reason way, it just didn’t happen. But, again, you could say that about every season you ever have unless you get to win the last game of the year.

At the end of the day, we have a wonderful group of young men that played like crazy all year. We won the SEC tournament for the second year in a row, right on the fringe of winning the SEC West. If not for a tied game or a rainout, probably would have won the SEC West or ended in a tie. National seed for the third year in a row. Averaged 50 wins a year over the last three years, which is more than anybody else in the country has done.

I’m proud of what we’re doing, proud of the fact we’re right there fighting for championships every year. But to win that last game is the ultimate goal and we didn’t do that last year.

Alex Bregman will be a first-rounder, Paul Mainieri says. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Alex Bregman will be a first-rounder, Paul Mainieri says. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

The Advocate: Have you accepted the fact that this might be the final season for some of your talented juniors?

Mainieri: You know, it’s kind of a new phenomena in football and, really, relatively so in basketball as well. Yet, in baseball, we’ve been dealing with this forever. This is not anything new for us. You really don’t expect only to have your best players for three years. You pretty much plan that way ahead.

So, yeah, I’m expecting to lose (Alex) Bregman, (Mark) Laird, Andrew (Stevenson) and (Chris) Chinea. Honestly, if they all have a phenomenal year this year, their best year, it’s going to mean that we’re going to win a lot of games. When the time comes that I have to say good-bye to them, I’ll say so with a heavy heart and not upset we’re losing them. I’ll be grateful that we would to have coached them for three years.

Alex Bregman, for all intents and purposes, was never going to come to college except for, again, some luck from our standpoint. He had that injury that kept him from playing his senior year of high school and probably kept him out of the first round of the draft, which meant he came to school. He’s going to leave here as a first-rounder with a boat load of experiences that he will cherish for the rest of his life.

I’m expecting I’ll lose those four underclassmen, and hopefully they’ll have their best years of their time here.

The Advocate: No Aaron Nola this year. Who do you give the ball to on Friday nights?

Mainieri: It’s going to be a big adjustment because, really, for the last three years we’ve had that Friday night starter – if you include Kevin Gausman – we knew we could count on, and he was going to give us a really good chance to win on Friday night.

It’s going to be a big adjustment for us. I think we’ve got somebody in our staff that’s potentially as good as Kevin Gausman or Aaron Nola. I just don’t know who it is yet. Until you give them the opportunity to go out there and pitch and be under the bright lights and learn from their failures … People forget Kevin Gausman was 5-6 his freshman year. People also forget that Aaron Nola’s first SEC game he gave up five runs in the first inning against Mississippi State. There’s a growing phase kids have to go through. You look for those qualities you think that eventually are going to allow that player to become the top of the heap kind of guy.

Aaron Nola is a Philly now. (AP)

Aaron Nola is a Philly now. (AP)

We’ve got candidates. I’m not hiding any names here. You know who these freshmen are: Alex Lange, Jake Godfrey, Jake Latz, Doug Norman. All four of them, I think, are very capable of being that type of guy. Time will tell if they fulfill that potential, I think, they each have. But it’s going to be a big adjustment.

The one thing that I’ll say is the last two years we’ve kind of struggled with our second and third starters. I’m hoping the depth we’ve created with these freshmen will make a strong (No. 2 and No. 3). Last year, we didn’t struggle with a second starter. We struggled with a third starter. The year before, we struggled a little bit with the second and the third starters, even though we won the SEC and went to Omaha. It was a little bit of a struggle at times. I’m hoping maybe our consistency and the depth of our rotation will be a little better as we go forward.

The Advocate: So where does the weekend rotation stand in your mind about two weeks out from the first full-squad practice?

Mainieri: There’s no question in my mind that those four freshmen that I mentioned are going to be right in the thick of things.

Obviously, Jared Poché is an established weekend starter for us. Kyle Bouman did some good things. There’s six names right there that I think are candidates for the weekend starters job. We’re going to find good starting pitchers out of that group of six.

What I think is going to be the most critical thing is to develop a closer out of that group. Now, none of those six guys will probably get a chance to close in the first three weeks because I think it’s important for those freshmen to get innings of experience. They need to go out there and pitch and not think that any one pitch is going to cost their team a game. It’s going to allow them to use their repertoire of pitches and that type of thing.

My goal, really, is to get each of those four freshmen 15-20 innings under their belt in the first three weeks. After three weeks, when those guys have all pitched extended outings, and the Russell Reynolds and the Parker Buggs and the Hunter Devalls and the Alden Cartwrights … all of those veteran guys, they’re going to be counted on to try to close the games early in the year. They’re going to get an opportunity to do that. But if I’m not comfortable after three weeks with how we’re pitching at the end of the game, I might have to move a talented pitcher that could potentially be a really good starting pitcher, may have to move that particular guy to the end of the games.

In this league, if you don’t get those last outs of the game, holding a one-run lead, it’s going to affect your season in a negative way. That was a lesson we learned back in 2011, when we lost nine games by either one or two runs. We weren’t really able to close out the games and that’s what hurt us.

LSU SS Alex Bregman, OF Andrew Stevenson are Perfect Game preseason All-Americans

LSU shortstop Alex Bregman made Perfect Game’s preseason first team All-American team, and outfielder Andrew Stevenson landed on the third team, the site announced Friday.

Bregman, a junior who many expect will enter the draft after this season, was on Collegiate Baseball’s preseason All-American second team released last month.

LSU OF Andrew Stevenson led the Tigers in hitting last season. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

LSU OF Andrew Stevenson led the Tigers in hitting last season. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Bregman was the National Freshman of the Year in 2013, and he received the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation’s best shortstop. Last season, Bregman earned second-team All-SEC honors after hitting .316 with 16 doubles, six homers and 47 RBI.

“Suffice it to say the baseball world expects nothing less than another outstanding season from Bregman in 2015, as he leads a very talented LSU squad,” the site says about the shortstop.

Stevenson, also a junior, went from being LSU’s worst hitter in 2013, batting .193, to its best last year with a .335 clip. He finished second in the SEC with five triples and had, at one point, a 17-game hitting streak.

LSU baseball opens the season with a three-game home stand against Kansas starting Feb. 13.

LSU No. 4 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll

Paul Mainieri's team will begin the season No. 4 in at least one of the major preseason polls. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Paul Mainieri’s team will begin the season No. 4 in at least one of the major preseason polls. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

LSU is No. 4 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason poll released Monday.

The Tigers are the second-highest ranked Southeastern Conference team, trailing top-ranked Vanderbilt. Here’s the top 25, while the full 40-team poll can be seen here:

baseballpoll

LSU lost just one everyday position starter – third baseman Christian Ibarra – from a squad in 2014 that won the SEC Tournament and earned the No. 8 national seed, but the Tigers lost ace Aaron Nola and closer Joe Broussard.  Sophomore Danny Zardon is likely to get the first crack at filling Ibarra’s role.

Coach Paul Mainieri’s starting weekend rotation is expected to include at least one true freshman if not two. Four rookies – Jake Godfrey, Jake Latz, Alex Lange and Doug Norman – are set to compete with returning weekend starters Jared Poche and Kyle Bouman.

LSU signed the consensus No. 1-ranked class in the nation last year. The Tigers begin practice for the 2015 season on Jan. 23 and open the year with a three-game home stand against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

SS Alex Bregman, LHP Jared Poche preseason All-Americans

Shortstop Alex Bregman and left-handed pitcher Jared Poche were named to Collegiate Baseball’s All-American second team.

Alex Bregman is a preseason All-American. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Alex Bregman is a preseason All-American. (HILARY SCHEINUK)

Here’s the full list of preseason All-Americans.

Bregman, a junior who the coaching staff expects to lose to the MLB Draft after this season, will start as LSU’s shortstop for a third straight season.

He was the National Freshman of the Year in 2013, and he received the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation’s best shortstop. Last season, Bregman earned second-team All-SEC honors after hitting .316 with 16 doubles, six homers and 47 RBI.

Poche’, a native of Lutcher, La., is expected to compete for a spot in the weekend starting rotation with a host of other players including freshmen Jake Latz, Jake Godfrey and Doug Norman.

Last year as LSU’s No. 2 starter, the then-freshman  went 9-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 16 starts. He was named a 2014 Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

LSU begins baseball practice Jan. 23 and opens the season with a three-game weekend home set against Kansas on Feb. 13-15.

Kyle Peterson to be keynote speaker at First Pitch Banquet

Kyle Peterson, ESPN’s lead baseball analyst and a former first-round MLB Draft selection, will serve as the keynote speaker at the LSU First Pitch Banquet set for Jan. 25 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge.

Tickets are on sale for purchase here. The deadline to purchase tickets to the banquet is Jan. 16.

The banquet, a ceremonial kickoff of the baseball season, will begin at 7 p.m. Players will sign autographs starting at 6 p.m. The banquet includes a live auction, dinner and speeches from baseball players, coach Paul Mainieri and Peterson.