NCAA Baseball Championships:
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5/14/19 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
TUESDAY TIDBITS: YOUR DAILY DOSE OF TIGER NEWS DELIVERED IN A BAKER’S DOZEN QUICK HITTERS
1. After going 1-3 last week with a loss to Louisiana Tech and a series loss at Arkansas, the LSU baseball team took an understandable drop in the weekly polls. Here’s where LSU checks in this week, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis.
Perfect Game: No. 20 (Last Week: 15)
D1 Baseball.com: No. 19 (LW: 15)
Baseball America: No. 22 (LW: 16)
Collegiate Baseball: No. 20 (LW: 18)
2. Perhaps more important than the weekly polls are SEC standings and NCAA RPI rankings. The Tigers are currently 15-12 in the SEC, which puts them tied for third in the SEC West and tied for fifth in the overall standings. The Tigers are No. 22 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings with 17 wins over Top 50 RPI teams, which is the fifth-highest total in the nation.
3. The Tigers will conclude the regular season this week with a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series at home against Auburn. But before that, the Tigers take on University of New Orleans tonight at 6:30 p.m. Here’s a look at this week’s schedule and coverage:
May 14 (Tue.) – NEW ORLEANS, 6:30 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
May 16 (Thu.) – AUBURN, 6:30 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
May 17 (Fri.) – AUBURN, 7 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
May 18 (Sat.) – AUBURN, 2 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
4. Coach Mainieri announced yesterday that Devin Fontenot will get the start on the mound for LSU tonight. This will be Fontenot’s first start of the season, but don’t see this as an audition for a regular starting role. This is more about the fact that Fontenot didn’t pitch any against Arkansas and needs the work.
5. As for LSU’s injured pitchers, Coach Mainieri provided me with an update yesterday. Jaden Hill threw off the front of the mound and “looked like a Major Leaguer.” He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session today. As for Cole Henry, he played long catch yesterday and looked good with no pain. He will throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Mainieri hopes that he can pitch some in the SEC tournament. Primary reliever Trent Vietmeier, who left Friday’s game shoulder discomfort, is still sore and will have an MRI.
6. Before leaving the topic of baseball, here is an interview from 104.5 FM’s Off the Bench radio program in which Coach Mainieri gives on his thoughts on this past weekend’s series at Arkansas.
7. Turning to softball, Beth Torina’s Tigers were selected as the No. 10 overall seed for the 2019 NCAA tournament and will host the Baton Rouge Regional this weekend. Other teams in the Baton Rouge region are Monmouth, Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech. LSU will take on Monmouth at 4:30 p.m. CT Friday. Here’s a look at the complete NCAA Softball Tournament Bracket. LSU finished the season in a three-way tie for second place in the SEC, and this is the fifth consecutive year that Beth Torina’s Tigers are hosting a regional.
8. Turning to the topic of football, today we’ll begin a brief series on three or four members of LSU’s most recent signing class who haven’t received a ton of props but could be impact players this year. We’ll start with defensive lineman Joseph Evans:
It’s true — they make ’em different in Haynesville. Haynesville’s storied high school football program has produced back-to-back Top 10 prospects in the state. This year it was Joseph Evans, who the Tigers got to sign the dotted line, and next year, it’ll be former teammate CamRon Jackson, who has already committed to the Tigers. The hope is these two could dominate the trenches at LSU like they did in high school, side by side. But before Jackson comes to campus (fingers crossed he remains committed), Evans will get an early jump on becoming a producer on the Tigers’ defensive line. And that’s going to be a little bit tougher this year than in recent years. The Tigers finally have experienced depth with backups Tyler Shelvin (nose), Neil Farrell (end) and Justin Thomas (end) all getting varsity action in their careers. Evans, who is 6’2”, 302 pounds, is projected to play outside and back up the likes Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan. Should there come an injury, and we know how this goes on the defensive side of the ball, Evans will be a big bodied terror on defense the Tigers will have to rely on.
9. Seeing all of those LSU D-linemen listed above makes it easy to see why there are big expectations for that unit this year. According to a tweet by College Football Rankings, LSU’s D-line is ranked as the nation’s third-best in 2019, behind only Auburn and Michigan State, and one spot ahead of Clemson. Alabama’s, by the way, is rated seventh-best.
10. One more D-line tidbit while we’re at it. In yesterday’s Mail Call I responded to a question about LSU’s recruitment of two big-time DTs, Jacqueline Roy of University High and Jacobian Guillory of Alexandria Senior High. But there’s a third elite in-state DT to keep in mind, Jalen Lee of Live Oak. He’s been garnering a ton of interest and offers lately and LSU is very high on him. Those three guys and several others will have a chance to work out in front of LSU in a few weeks when LSU hosts its lineman camp. Here’s a look at the upcoming camp schedule:
Coach O’s O-Line/D-Line Camp: June 1
Coach O’s Kicking Camp: June 1
Coach O’s Tiger Skills Camp: June 2
Coach O’s Youth Camp: June 6–7
7 on 7 Team & Lineman Camp: June 15
Coach O’s High School Session: June 20-22
11. Believe it or not, it will soon be time for our 100-day countdown to the start of LSU’s football season. (We’re at 109 days now.) That means it’s time to start thinking about our annual countdown feature. This year we’ll stick to the flexible format we introduced a few years ago and write about any football topic related to the number of days left on our countdown. For example, at the 58-day mark, we might write about the legendary 1958 team and its national championship. For 57, we might go with the 2013 Tiger team’s nation-leading third-down conversion rate of 57.14%. And, of course, on some days we just highlighted a player or two who wore the jersey number. I’m bringing this up now because I would like your help. If you have any suggestions for the countdown that you would like me to consider, especially for numbers 100-90, please send them my way.
12. Last week produced a lot of good moments for LSU’s weekly Top Plays video. This one features an NCAA track and field record, a game-winning home run, a great grab, and a rundown in the 4x100 relay.
13. LAGNIAPPE: Remember that Boudin and Cream Cheese-Stuffed Pork Tenderloin I first mentioned last week? Well, I cooked it for a second week in a row last night and this time I documented the steps so I could add it to our Recipes section. Check it out and let me know your thoughts. And if you aren’t fortunate enough to have a boudin source close by, feel free to substitute any fresh sausage in the stuffing or just leave that part out. Tonnére mes chiens, c’est bon!
5/13/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It was great to hear from many of you yesterday. I asked for your comments and questions, and you delivered! As promised, I’ve selected a few to share with you today, along with my responses.
DANDYDON.COM’S MONDAY MORNING MAIL CALL
From Scott R.: Noticed in your update where Caleb Gilbert had received his Civil Engineering degree. I had forgotten about him. What’s his status on the team? Has he been injured? Recovering from surgery? Daily reader for years, enjoy your website!
My Response: Great question, Scott. Gilbert is still on the team but his situation is a strange one. Here’s how I understand it. After having a solid 2017 season, Gilbert’s velocity plunged last year. He struggled on the mound, lost his spot in the weekend rotation, and it was obvious that something wasn’t right. After the season, he underwent surgery to clean out his shoulder. The expectation was that he would miss fall ball and be ready to pitch this season. The problem is, he hasn’t been the same since the surgery. In this article by Tiger Rag, coach Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Caleb is kind of struggling right now with his mechanics and his confidence, those types of things… He’s not having any pain at all. He’s just not quite ready to pitch. He’s trying to figure it out again.” I know it sounds weird, but sometimes a pitcher has to relearn to pitch after a procedure like that, and for some it takes longer than others.
From Anthony: Was great to salvage one win in Arkansas, but if Duplantis’ homer hadn’t cleared the fence by mere inches we would be talking about a streak of 6 losses. Has LSU ever lost 6 in a row before? Heck, have they ever lost 5?
My Response: Baseball is a game of inches, Anthony, so don’t discount Duplantis’ clutch game-winner just because it barely cleared the fence. But I get your drift. As for your question, yes, LSU has lost five games in a row, and they’ve lost six in a row, too. In fact, each of those losing streaks occurred at different times at the end of Coach Mainieri’s 2010 season. They lost seven in a row between April 24 and May 2 and then lost six in a row from May 8 through May 18. That made for 13 losses in 15 games. Talk about a slump! That team ended up winning its final series against Mississippi State and then winning the SEC Tournament.
From John: Scott, There are a lot of fans right now clamoring for a new baseball head coach. I personally think that is premature but what are your feelings on Paul’s short and long term prognosis as HC at LSU, his coaching staff, and how a new AD affects all of this. Thanks again for continuing to be the best place to read and view LSU sports.
My Response: Thank you, John. Like you, I think that kind of talk is premature. But I understand the fans’ frustration. It’s been ten years since a national title and this was supposed to be “the year” with so much talent returning and the No. 1 recruiting class coming in. Last season, and so far this season, have been “stale,” and if the rest of the season tanks, Mainieri’s seat will be warmer than it’s ever been in his time at LSU. Heck, it already is. As publisher of this site, I hear from a lot of fans and can assure you that Mainieri’s approval rating took a big dip last week and that you’re correct in stating that many folks are clamoring for change. But people forget that Mainieri is just one full season removed from playing in the national championship finals, and last year’s postseason finished with a loss to the national champion. With that in mind, I’d be extremely surprised to see the new AD take any action on this. If it were up to me, I’d consider a pitching coach change before a head coach change.
From Lenny: Dandy, I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up the issue of not having any left-handed pitchers the past two years. I don’t understand how this could happen? It’s killing us against many of these teams with great lefty hitters! Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, etc. What’s going on with the recruiting of lefties! I see we only have one lefty committed for 2020? Help me out on this. I’m flabbergasted! Thanks!
My Response: Good question, Lenny. Let’s start by getting the facts straight. LSU did have a lefty on last year’s team. In fact, there were four of them. Nick Bush signed with the Rockies, Taylor Peterson transferred to Metropolitan State University shortly after the Corvallis Regional, John Kodros transferred to TCU, and Brandon Nowak is now at Mississippi College. And there is one lefty on this year’s roster, Easton McMurray, but he is still recovering from a season-ending shoulder surgery he had in February. He actually was first injured in high school and Coach Mainieri stuck by his offer and signed him. Early this year, it became apparent that his injury required surgery. The hope is he will be back next year. That said, yes, not having a lefty on this year’s team is definitely a roster management problem and has been troublesome. As of now, there are two southpaws I know of who are committed to LSU for the 2019 class, Jacob Hasty and Brandon Kaminer.
From Charlie: Scott: It amazes me that social media and websites have been so vitriolic towards this team and Coach Paul Manieri. Yes, I get the lack of perceived effort in some games, especially last Tuesday’s game against Louisiana Tech. That being said, some of the #FireCPM tweets and trashing of these players are gutless and classless. These same sissies will be the first to jump back on the bandwagon when the Tigers turn things around this year. And they will turn it around! The other thing about an overwhelming majority of these cowards is that they rarely buy a ticket to the games or are a member of any booster club or make TAF Contributions or Alumni Contributions. I believe one can be part of the problem or part of the solution. These fair weather fans are definitely part of the problem. Then, when some of these self-appointed experts say “we” suck and “we’re” terrible, I always respond with, “We? What is your number? What position do you play?” Look, I understand “we” as this is my team, etc. But when it’s used to divide the Tiger Nation, I draw a line. Ryan Theriot went on a six-minute rant this past Friday because he earned that privilege because he played and put himself in the arena and he understands what is involved. And on the same show, he showed praise and support for Coach Manieri. Coach Manieri has been, and still is, an outstanding coach. Just two years ago, he led this team to the finals of the CWS. He has consistently kept this team in the mix. Lest I remind you, the three coaches since Skip Bertman left coaching who have won more than one National Championship are Augie Guarido, Pat Casey, and Ray Tanner. None are still coaching, and Augie is no longer with us. No one has repeated a national championship since Ray Tanner in 2011. It is hard to win a Title, and it is hard to even get to the CWS. And to those who want to bring back Andy Cannizaro, I shake my head. There is still fight in this team and I have complete confidence in Coach Manieri. Geaux Tigers!
My Response: Thanks, Charlie, for sharing your opinion. I don’t have anything to add to it, but I appreciate you reminding me to share Theriot’s fiery comments after LSU 11-6 loss at Arkansas. I thought they were appropriate, and I respect his passion for the game and for the Tigers. (I hope the team heard them, too!) I didn’t catch the entire show, but I’m glad to know he showed praise and support for Mainieri. I also appreciate you pointing out that only one coach (Ray Tanner of South Carolina) repeated a national championship since Mainieri’s last title. That does indeed put things in perspective.
From Walter: Scott, I am concerned about the lack of heart I see on the baseball field. These kids are all great and I support them 1000% but there is something missing that was always on the field at LSU. Todd Peterson gave them that boost yesterday with his fire. Let’s hope one of the other TIGERS steps up and does the same in the games that are left in this season. GEAUX TIGERS
My Response: Thanks, Walter. I know what you’re talking about. I don’t know if “lack of heart” is the right phrase, but they have at times lacked that “fire in the belly” or “sense of urgency.” I was happy to see some of that “fire” from Zack Hess once he was moved back to the bullpen and I was happy to see it from Todd Peterson on Saturday. We also saw it from Antoine Duplantis when he slammed his helmet after popping up and then hit the game-winning home run in his next at-bat. And, of course, we saw it in the incredible ninth-inning rally that fell short when LSU hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to send the Ole Miss finale to extras. If they could play with that intensity and sense of urgency all the time, they would be a different team.
From Craig: What are the redshirt rules for baseball? Seems like Jaden Hill might be better served to sit out the rest of the year.
My Response: Excellent question, Craig. My understanding (based on this article I found online today) is that in baseball, unlike in football, playing in just one game disqualifies one from taking a redshirt year. If that’s accurate, Hill cannot take a redshirt. Now, a Hardship Waiver is another matter. That same article states that “players who suffer a season-ending injury or illness during the first half of the spring season may be eligible for a hardship waiver if they haven’t played in more than 30 percent of their team’s games.” Hill’s injury occurred right after his dominant performance against Bryant in late February, so I think that means he could qualify, but it’s probably a moot point. LSU needs Hill this year, and Coach Mainieri has said he’s hopeful to have him back for SEC tournament play.
From Virgil: LSU football’s 2020, “committed” recruiting class is looking extremely solid with the exception of one area, DEFENSIVE TACKLE! Only one talented player commit at the position thus far. Two of the top defensive tackle prospects in the nation are “AGAIN” right here in our home state. In your opinion, are we looking at another situation where the fight is already over and they’ve been instructed to keep mouths zipped on intentions until National Signing Day? Seems Alabama has top recruits “schooled” in this practice!
My Response: Virgil, I feel good about the two in-state DTs you’re referring to, Jacobian Guillory of Alexandria and Jaqueline Roy of University Lab. Of the two, I feel better about Guillory and don’t expect him to be one of those guys that keeps you guessing until Signing Day. I hear he’ll commit to his school of choice in June and that LSU feels good about its chances of landing him over Alabama and Texas. As for Roy, he was committed to LSU for six months before de-committing and deciding to take additional visits, but LSU is still very much in the picture. I’m not overly concerned about defensive tackle recruitment. My greatest concern about this recruiting class is offensive tackle. That’s a greater position of need and LSU only has one committed so far. They will have the nation’s very best OT visiting in a couple of weeks, Paris Johnson, Jr. of Cincinnati, and are in hot pursuit of several other elite OTs, including Marcus Dumervil of Fort Lauderdale.
Have a great day, Tiger Fans.
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