NCAA Baseball Championships:
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5/22/13 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU baseball team will begin postseason play today when they take on Alabama at approximately 12:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised by Cox Sports Television/Comcast Sports Southeast. The game can also be watched on ESPN3.com. Alabama came from behind to beat their in-state rival Auburn yesterday, 6-3, by scoring three runs in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie.
About a month ago, LSU claimed its season series against Alabama with a 5-0 win in Game 1 and an 11-8 win in Game 2, which lasted 16 innings. In today's game, LSU will likely start sophomore left-hander Cody Glenn (6-2, 2.64 ERA, 75 IP, 35 SO/16 BB, .236 opp. BA), while Alabama will go with senior right-hander Charley Sullivan (5-5, 3.58 ERA, 83 IP, 72 SO/22 BB, .285 opp. BA). Glenn started Game 3 of the season series against Alabama that the Tigers lost 4-3 in 10 innings, but the loss was certainly not Glenn’s fault as he pitched a solid eight innings and allowed only four hits with no walks and three strikeouts. That was the game in which LSU committed an uncharacteristic three errors and allowed three unearned runs. I have confidence in Glenn pitching a good game today, but he'll need to get better support on the field and at the plate than he received last time. Alabama's Sullivan pitched in Game 1 of the series and was hit pretty hard in his six innings of action, allowing four earned runs on seven hits while striking out eight and walking four. Today's contest has all the makings of a great game, and I hope many of you will be able to sneak away from work, or at least sneak on a pair of headphones, to keep up with the action.
If LSU wins today's game, the Tigers will play at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow against the winner of today's Arkansas-Ole Miss game. If LSU loses, the Tigers will play at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow against the loser of today's Arkansas-Ole Miss game.
In football recruiting news, LSU received some bad news yesterday when 5-star JUCO sensation D’haquille Williams decommitted from the Tigers in an unexpected turn of events. You probably recall that Williams’ commitment to LSU just a little over a week ago was a very bid deal, as many in the industry were calling Williams the best wide receiver to ever play come out of Louisiana. In my interview with Mike Detillier last week, Mike put Williams in the same category of Reggie Wayne and Chris Henry and said his natural skills compared favorably to theirs. There’s no doubt that Williams’ decommitment is a big blow to this Tiger recruiting class which was considered the best in the country by 247Sports after Williams’ commitment, but the battle for his signature is far from over. (In this video by Nola.com, Coach Miles doesn’t seem overly concerned about Williams’ decommitment.) From what I understand, Williams is still very high on LSU, but wants to take some more visits before making a final decision, and it’s very likely that there will be more drama surrounding Williams before he gives anyone his signature. Heck, there’s even a chance that he’ll bypass Division 1 ball altogether and go straight to the pro ranks. Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I feel like when someone commits to something, they should follow through. I understand that Williams didn’t get a chance to enjoy the recruiting process right out of high school because he was not academically qualified, but that’s little excuse to me. Unfortunately, it seems that decommitals are becoming more and more common in this day and age (and I’m not talking only about football), but I guess that’s just a sign of the times we live in. That’s enough soapboxing for me today.
In basketball news, LSU assistant coach Robert Kirby submitted his resignation to the LSU Athletics Department late Monday, and yesterday he was officially named as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis. This doesn't come as a shock as rumors of his departure began circulating last week, as I reported then. In a press release sent out by LSU yesterday, Kirby was quoted as saying, “I totally enjoyed my year here at LSU. It was very educational as well as enjoyable with the players that we had here to work with as well as the coaching staff. Baton Rouge and the LSU family is a great family and they welcomed me with open arms and I will never forget them. I will never forget the times I had here and the people I worked with. They were just outstanding.” Kirby is an excellent recruiter and was a big asset to the LSU program, but I wish him all the best in his hometown of Memphis. As of now I have not heard of any possible replacements.
In closing, I regret to inform you that Rachele Fico’s father passed away early Monday morning after a long bought with cancer. The former All-American Tiger pitcher shared the sad news with a simple but touching tweet that said, “The world lost a fighter, but heaven gained an angel. R.I.P. Daddy 5-20-13.” As Jaques Doucet of WAFB news so eloquently put it in this outstanding article, “In one incredibly painful weekend the LSU All-American would lose her father and see her brilliant college career come to a crashing halt. That's an unspeakable amount of misery for one 21-year old to endure. But something tells me Fico will return stronger than ever.” If you haven't already read Doucet's article, I encourage you to do so now. As someone who has lost his own father to cancer, my heart and my prayers go out to Rachele and her family.
Oh, one more thing: Ok, actually it's more like four or five more things. The start of LSU football is only 101 days away! Tomorrow I’ll post a countdown clock, and then Thursday we'll begin our annual jersey countdown. And it’s looking like our revised Where Are They Now page might be ready for posting then, too. As I mentioned yesterday, if there are players you’d like to recommend for these two site features, please let me know, and be sure to include their jersey numbers, the position/years that they played, and any other pertinent information you have. Also, I have updated our Ticket Exchange page with a few new entries.
5/21/13 6:00 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
After winning three games last week including one against UNO and two against Ole Miss before resting the regulars for the series finale, the LSU baseball team moved up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the final regular season Baseball America and USA Today Coaches’ polls. The Tigers gave the voters, and Tiger fans, a lot to be encouraged by in the first two games of the Ole Miss series as Cody Glenn turned in his third consecutive strong outing on Thursday, and then Kurt McCune looked impressive in place of Aaron Nola in Friday's game. As most of you know, Nola was being rested for SEC tournament action, but it looks like he won't see that action until Thursday as Coach Mainieri said in yesterday's press conference that Glenn will get the start in tomorrow's game. According to multiple tweets I saw from the presser, Mainieri also said that Jacoby Jones will not be on the active roster for the SEC tournament because of his hand injury, but should be ready in time for the NCAA tournament. Mason Katz will continue to play second base in Jones’ absense, and in Jones’ place on the active roster will be pitcher Hunter Newman, who could prove to be a valuable addition to the Tiger bullpen.
Speaking of postseason play, the SEC tournament gets underway today when No. 6 seed Ole Miss takes on No. 11 Kentucky at 9:30 a.m. After that game, Hoover will really get jumping as in-state rivals Alabama and Auburn (7th and 10th seeds respectively) take part in their baseball Iron Bowl. LSU will play the winner of that game on Wednesday at about 1:30.
In other baseball news, a couple of congratulations are in order as Mason Katz has been named to the 2013 SEC Baseball Community Service Team and Raph Rhymes was named SEC Player of the Week.
Katz has been the leader of the baseball program’s outstanding community service effort for the past season and has participated in lots of philanthropic efforts such as visiting children’s hospitals and schools in the Baton Rouge area. He also participated in the Buddy Walk in Baton Rouge – the event is conducted to promote awareness and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome – and he attended the Blue Ribbon Soiree to raise funds in the fight against prostate cancer. Katz also annually takes part in the Halloween “Boozar” at LSU, as he and his teammates distribute candy to children in the local community, and served food to the homeless at Thanksgiving. He also helped to conduct youth baseball clinics throughout south Louisiana, and worked as a volunteer with disabled children in the Miracle League, a non-competitive baseball offering for children with physical or mental disabilities. Hats off to Mason Katz for representing LSU with class on and off the baseball field.
Rhymes was named SEC Player of the Week after batting .455 (5-for-11) in last week's four games with one double, two homers and six RBI. His two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday erased a 4-3 Ole Miss lead and lifted the Tigers to a 5-4 victory that clinched the series and allowed LSU to set single-season school records for regular-season wins (48) and SEC wins (23). He also had that very memorable inside-the-park home Thursday night that ended with him flipping over the Ole Miss catcher.
In basketball news, here are a couple of tid-bits: 1) According to Tiger Rag, Malik Morgan has changed his mind and will be returning to LSU for his sophomore season. If true, he could be a big boost for the 2013 Tiger team which is shaping up to be very good. 2) Lady Tiger Theresa Plaisance was one of 12 players selected to lead the USA Basketball Team at the World University Games in Russia. She was one of two SEC players to make the cut, joining Tennessee’s Ariel Massengale. LSU guard Danielle Ballard just missed the team, but she was one of the few freshmen who were selected to tryout.
Before going any further, I'd like to say that I regret not congratulating the UL-Lafayette softball team yesterday for their solid play in the Baton Rouge regional. They have a strong, well-coached softball program and I wish the best of luck as they represent the state of Louisiana in the remainder of the tournament.
In closing, I'd like to remind you that the LSU football season is “only” 102 days away. In a couple of days I will post a countdown clock, and the following day I will start our annual jersey countdown. If you would like to suggest a player for the countdown, please email me his information and be sure to include his jersey number and any interesting facts you may have about him. And on a related note, we are almost ready to replace our old Where Are They Now page with a new and improved database-driven page that will make it easier for you to keep track of former Tigers. The information on the page is entirely “crowd-sourced,” meaning it comes from you, the readers. Once the new system is launched, there will be an online form that you can use to submit information to be included. Lastly, with football season quickly approaching, we'll soon be updating our Ticket Exchange page. Thanks in advance for your help in making these site features a valuable resource for the Tiger Nation.
Reader comments: Scott, please let your readers know that the can vote for Mikie Mahtook as the SEC's All-Time Outfielder. Here's the link to vote.
5/20/13 5:45 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans. I hope you all had a great weekend.
Today I’ll lead with the unfortunate news of the No. 3 national seed LSU softball team (42-16) being eliminated from the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional with a 1-0 loss to UL-Lafayette yesterday. The loss to UL-L (46-13) was the Tigers second in as many days, and in both games the Cajuns took an early first inning lead that the Tigers were unable to overcome. While All-American Tiger pitcher Rachele Fico pitched great in her last outing as a Tiger and only allowed two hits and two walks, LSU was unable to come through with timely hits at the plate and left 10 Tigers on base.
After the game, LSU Coach Beth Torina got emotional when speaking about Fico, as you’ll see in this video by Jaques Doucet, and with good reason. You see, Fico's father is very ill and has been fighting for his life against cancer the entire weekend. For Rachele to be able to go out there and stay focused on the task at hand shows just what an incredible competitor she is, and I know I speak for all of you when I wish her and her family all the best in the very difficult time. To those of you who believe as I do, I ask that you keep the Fico family in your prayers.
In baseball news, the SEC tournament will get underway in Hoover, Alabama tomorrow. As the No. 2 seed, the Tigers get a bye on Day 1 and will not take the field until Wednesday at about 1:30 when they take on the winner of No. 7 and No. 10 Auburn. LSU’s game will be televised by Cox Sports Television. (Please scroll down to yesterday’s report for the full tournament schedule, and click here for the tournament bracket.)
With a record of 48-8 overall and 23-7 in SEC play, the Tigers are entering the tournament with the most wins and most league victories in school history. However, at 48-7 overall and 26-3 SEC, No. 1 seed Vanderbilt’s record is even more impressive. The Commodores lead the SEC with a .319 team batting average, and their second baseman, Tony Kemp, leads the league in hitting with a .408 average. LSU freshman shortstop sensation Alex Bregman leads the SEC in hits (90) and ranks third with a .388 batting average. I’m hoping the Tigers and Commodores meet up in the championship as that would be an outstanding game, but even if they don’t ithere’s a good chance that they could meet up in the NCAA tournament next month. Both teams are projected to be among the eight national seeds, along with North Carolina, Virginia, Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State, Florida State and Louisville. The 64-team NCAA tournament bracket will be announced next Monday, May 27.
I’ll close today with a few recruiting tid-bits: 1) Last week I told you about Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris who has had an extremely impressive spring and really excelled in his team’s scrimmage (check out this scrimmage highlights video that I mentioned Saturday if you haven’t already), and yesterday he saw his stock rise quite a bit as he climbed 143 spots in 247Sports rankings and is now listed as the top dual-threat quarterback in the country. I've also moved him up from No. 15 to No. 11 on my list of Top Louisiana Football Prospects for 2014. 2) 5-star outside linebacker Clifton Garrett (6'2", 228, Plainfield, Illinois) has reportedly affirmed that LSU is at the top of his list at this time, but that he will probably not make a decision until later this fall. As most of you recruitniks already know, Garrett visited Alabama on April 19 and then visited LSU the very next day and left much more impressed with the Tigers (which is always music to my ears). 3) Here's an article about Darcy Malone, the Australian seven-footer who’s looking to follow Shaq’s footsteps and boost the LSU basketball program.
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