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5/24/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!

After concluding the regular season with a series win over then No. 1 Florida, LSU is  a consensus top-10 team in the final regular season polls. LSU checks in as high as No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches poll and as low as No. 8 according to Perfect Game and D1Baseball.com. As for LSU’s RPI (Rating Percentage Index), Warren Nolan and D1Baseball have the Tigers at No. 8, while Boyd’s World has them at No. 10. 

The Tigers will begin SEC Tournament play today with a single-elimination contest against Tennessee tonight at 8 pm CT. The game will be televised by the SEC Network and streamed online via SECN+, accessible on ESPN3.com and via the WatchESPN app. 

In what came as a big surprise to many folks including myself, Coach Mainieri announced yesterday that Jake Latz will get the start on the mound for the Tigers tonight. By now most of you know the story on Latz, but for those of you who do not here’s the quick version. Latz, a 4.0 student and teammate of fellow Tiger Michael Papierski at Lemont High in Illinois, turned down a lot of money from the Toronto Blue Jays to become a member of LSU’s top-ranked 2014 signing class. Unfortunately, his highly-anticipated debut as a Tiger pitcher was delayed for nearly two years due to a stress fracture in his elbow that caused him to undergo surgery in November. Latz made his collegiate debut against McNeese State on April 12, starting and lasting 1.1 innings, but immediately afterward he felt discomfort in his elbow. He gave it another go against Northwestern State and again last Saturday against Florida where he looked great, striking out the side in his one inning of work while demonstrating a filthy curveball. More importantly, Latz felt fine afterward. In tonight’s outing, I wouldn’t expect him to go very deep into the game, but I’m awfully excited that he’s progressed enough to be put into this situation. If he can build on Saturday’s outstanding outing, Latz will be an extremely valuable addition to LSU’s pitching rotation in postseason play.

As for Mainieri’s decision to save Alex Lange for tomorrow’s game against the Gators should LSU win tonight, the coach insisted that he is not looking past Tennessee. Instead, Mainieri says the decision was made with Lange’s health in mind. In this article by the Advocate, Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Our No.1 priority, quite frankly, is to make sure Alex Lange remains healthy throughout his career and as well as throughout the rest of this year. We decided the most prudent thing for his sake, was to give him at least five days rest and wanted the normal side work, that type of thing.” When LSU squared off against Tennessee in Knoxville a week and a half ago, the Tigers swept the series and scored 21 runs in the last two games. The first game, however, was a nail-biter that ended 2-1 after being tied 1-all in the 8th inning. In that contest, Lange looked outstanding through eight innings of four-hit ball. 

In other baseball news, congratulations are in order for several Tigers who were honored with All-SEC recognition. Shortstop Kramer Robertson and Designated Hitter Bryce Jordan made the first team, while second baseman Cole Freeman made the All-Defense team. Right fielder Antoine Duplantis made the All-Freshman team. 

• Robertson is batting .321 this season with 17 doubles, two triples, one homer and 52 runs scored. He’s also the Tigers’ leading hitter in SEC games, batting .363 with nine doubles, one triple, one homer, 19 RBI and 26 runs. Defensively, he’s been remarkable at shortstop where he has committed only eight errors.

• Jordan is hitting .316 with six doubles, five homers, 30 RBI and 36 runs. His .447 on-base percentage is third best in the SEC and is aided by the fact that he’s been hit by a pitch 23 times. (Ball magnet!). 

• Duplantis is batting a team-high .335 with six doubles, five triples, two homers, 35 RBI and 41 runs. He was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week yesterday after his performance in the Tigers’ four games last week.

• Freeman has a .973 fielding percentage with only seven errors at second base and is hitting .331 with six doubles, three triples, one homer, 23 RBI and 41 runs. He’s also No. 3 in the SEC in stolen bases with 24 and No. 7 in the league in on-base percentage (.436).

Now let’s switch gears to football and continue our series on LSU’s 2016 opponents by picking up on Week 8. If you missed Weeks 1-7, you can find them here.

Week 8 - Oct. 22 Ole Miss

Now we’re entering the portion of the season where LSU’s 2015 campaign went off the tracks. Fortunately, the Tigers get Ole Miss before they play Alabama this year with a bye week in between those encounters. If all went goes well against Southern Miss the week before, as expected, the Tigers should enter this matchup somewhat rested. This will come in handy in defending the Rebels’ great athletes on the perimeter with Chad Kelly orchestrating the offense once again. Last season, Kelly was phenomenal, leading the SEC in passing with 310 passing yards per game and totaling 31 passing touchdowns (ninth in the nation). Ole Miss’ greatest recruiting class ever is gone now, but Kelly will still have weapons on the offensive side, including 2015 breakout Damore’ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo, DeMarkus Lodge and Markell Pack, as well as newcomers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. Ole Miss is unproven in the running game, and the Rebels have struggled to produce a back capable of picking up yards between the tackles on a consistent basis in recent years. So in this contest, LSU’s strength will meet Ole Miss’ strength. The Tigers’ secondary will have its hands full with talented players on the perimeter and a gunslinger quarterback, but if any secondary has the ability to limit this passing offense, it’s LSU’s. As for the Tigers’ offense, LSU should benefit from Ole Miss’ loss of both Nkemdiche brothers, as well as their depleted linebacker corps. That opens the door for a healthy serving of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice.

(LSU receives a bye in Week 9)

Week 10 - Nov. 5 vs. Alabama

Having lost five straight to their arch rival, what the Tigers need to do more than anything this year is reverse the Tide and hand the folks from Alabama a good ole fashioned whooping. The time has never been better. Alabama lost a good bit of its core on defense and has to replace a three-year starter at center. The Crimson Tide is also faced with needing to insert a new signal caller for the third year in a row. Nick Saban was able to overcome starting a new quarterback last year with the help of a stingy, experienced defense and Ryan Kelly keeping said quarterback off of the ground. Alabama will have neither advantage this season while LSU returns 18 starters. If he hasn’t done so by now, this is the game Brandon Harris will need to prove he can get the job done, though Alabama likely won’t have the same success it had stopping LSU’s running game as it did last season. Most of the players responsible for shutting down Leonard Fournette have departed, and because Saban’s recruiting has shifted ever so slightly toward stopping spread offenses in recent years, the Tigers’ physical rushing attack just might have the upper hand this time around. No matter the variables surrounding this game, you know Nick Saban will have his team ready to play and these two powerhouses will fight tooth and nail. They do it every year. This year, however, the Tigers will likely enter the game favored, and at home. 165 days and counting!

Now for a quick update on the football recruiting front: 

• LSU picked up its 12th commitment for 2017 yesterday when defensive end Aaron Moffit gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Moffitt (6-4, 245, Catholic High) is the son of longtime LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, and naturally some people will assume that’s the reason he got the offer. The reality is he’s a good player in his own right whose recruitment really started to pick up after he helped lead the Class 5A Bears to their first-ever state championship. Moffitt chose LSU over offers from  South Carolina, Purdue, California, Duke, Jackson State, San Diego State, and several in-state schools including UL-M, UL-Lafayette and Tulane. With his pledge, the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class now contains 11 commitments and is all the way up to No. 5 in 247Sports’ national team recruiting rankings.  

• LSU could pick up another commitment very soon as offensive guard Saahdiq Charles is expected to announce his school of choice sometime today. He is reportedly down to Mississippi State and LSU, and all signs point to him choosing the Tigers.

• LSU quarterback commit Lowell Narcisse threw for four touchdowns during his St. James High School spring game. Here are video highlights for those of you who want to see what kind of QB LSU will be getting. 

• Of course, LSU also has a commitment from another big-time quarterback – Myles Brennan of Bay Saint Louis, MS. Yesterday Brennan reaffirmed his commitment to LSU on Twitter, which was good to see considering it came on the heels of him receiving an offer from Ole Miss. 

Lastly, as many of you have heard by now, there’s some sad news to pass along about LSU’s beloved live Tiger mascot, Mike VI. According to a news release by LSU, doctors say the cancer is inoperable and incurable. A tumor on the right side of Mike’s nose will be treated at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center with a highly sophisticated form of radiation therapy called “Stereotactic radiotherapy,” or SRT.  What makes the news even sadder is that even with the treatment, Mike is not expected to survive more than another year or two. Bon courage, Mike. The Tiger Nation is praying for you!


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5/24/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans, it’s Game Day!

After concluding the regular season with a series win over then No. 1 Florida, LSU is  a consensus top-10 team in the final regular season polls. LSU checks in as high as No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches poll and as low as No. 8 according to Perfect Game and D1Baseball.com. As for LSU’s RPI (Rating Percentage Index), Warren Nolan and D1Baseball have the Tigers at No. 8, while Boyd’s World has them at No. 10. 

The Tigers will begin SEC Tournament play today with a single-elimination contest against Tennessee tonight at 8 pm CT. The game will be televised by the SEC Network and streamed online via SECN+, accessible on ESPN3.com and via the WatchESPN app. 

In what came as a big surprise to many folks including myself, Coach Mainieri announced yesterday that Jake Latz will get the start on the mound for the Tigers tonight. By now most of you know the story on Latz, but for those of you who do not here’s the quick version. Latz, a 4.0 student and teammate of fellow Tiger Michael Papierski at Lemont High in Illinois, turned down a lot of money from the Toronto Blue Jays to become a member of LSU’s top-ranked 2014 signing class. Unfortunately, his highly-anticipated debut as a Tiger pitcher was delayed for nearly two years due to a stress fracture in his elbow that caused him to undergo surgery in November. Latz made his collegiate debut against McNeese State on April 12, starting and lasting 1.1 innings, but immediately afterward he felt discomfort in his elbow. He gave it another go against Northwestern State and again last Saturday against Florida where he looked great, striking out the side in his one inning of work while demonstrating a filthy curveball. More importantly, Latz felt fine afterward. In tonight’s outing, I wouldn’t expect him to go very deep into the game, but I’m awfully excited that he’s progressed enough to be put into this situation. If he can build on Saturday’s outstanding outing, Latz will be an extremely valuable addition to LSU’s pitching rotation in postseason play.

As for Mainieri’s decision to save Alex Lange for tomorrow’s game against the Gators should LSU win tonight, the coach insisted that he is not looking past Tennessee. Instead, Mainieri says the decision was made with Lange’s health in mind. In this article by the Advocate, Mainieri is quoted as saying, “Our No.1 priority, quite frankly, is to make sure Alex Lange remains healthy throughout his career and as well as throughout the rest of this year. We decided the most prudent thing for his sake, was to give him at least five days rest and wanted the normal side work, that type of thing.” When LSU squared off against Tennessee in Knoxville a week and a half ago, the Tigers swept the series and scored 21 runs in the last two games. The first game, however, was a nail-biter that ended 2-1 after being tied 1-all in the 8th inning. In that contest, Lange looked outstanding through eight innings of four-hit ball. 

In other baseball news, congratulations are in order for several Tigers who were honored with All-SEC recognition. Shortstop Kramer Robertson and Designated Hitter Bryce Jordan made the first team, while second baseman Cole Freeman made the All-Defense team. Right fielder Antoine Duplantis made the All-Freshman team. 

• Robertson is batting .321 this season with 17 doubles, two triples, one homer and 52 runs scored. He’s also the Tigers’ leading hitter in SEC games, batting .363 with nine doubles, one triple, one homer, 19 RBI and 26 runs. Defensively, he’s been remarkable at shortstop where he has committed only eight errors.

• Jordan is hitting .316 with six doubles, five homers, 30 RBI and 36 runs. His .447 on-base percentage is third best in the SEC and is aided by the fact that he’s been hit by a pitch 23 times. (Ball magnet!). 

• Duplantis is batting a team-high .335 with six doubles, five triples, two homers, 35 RBI and 41 runs. He was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week yesterday after his performance in the Tigers’ four games last week.

• Freeman has a .973 fielding percentage with only seven errors at second base and is hitting .331 with six doubles, three triples, one homer, 23 RBI and 41 runs. He’s also No. 3 in the SEC in stolen bases with 24 and No. 7 in the league in on-base percentage (.436).

Now let’s switch gears to football and continue our series on LSU’s 2016 opponents by picking up on Week 8. If you missed Weeks 1-7, you can find them here.

Week 8 - Oct. 22 Ole Miss

Now we’re entering the portion of the season where LSU’s 2015 campaign went off the tracks. Fortunately, the Tigers get Ole Miss before they play Alabama this year with a bye week in between those encounters. If all went goes well against Southern Miss the week before, as expected, the Tigers should enter this matchup somewhat rested. This will come in handy in defending the Rebels’ great athletes on the perimeter with Chad Kelly orchestrating the offense once again. Last season, Kelly was phenomenal, leading the SEC in passing with 310 passing yards per game and totaling 31 passing touchdowns (ninth in the nation). Ole Miss’ greatest recruiting class ever is gone now, but Kelly will still have weapons on the offensive side, including 2015 breakout Damore’ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo, DeMarkus Lodge and Markell Pack, as well as newcomers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf. Ole Miss is unproven in the running game, and the Rebels have struggled to produce a back capable of picking up yards between the tackles on a consistent basis in recent years. So in this contest, LSU’s strength will meet Ole Miss’ strength. The Tigers’ secondary will have its hands full with talented players on the perimeter and a gunslinger quarterback, but if any secondary has the ability to limit this passing offense, it’s LSU’s. As for the Tigers’ offense, LSU should benefit from Ole Miss’ loss of both Nkemdiche brothers, as well as their depleted linebacker corps. That opens the door for a healthy serving of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice.

(LSU receives a bye in Week 9)

Week 10 - Nov. 5 vs. Alabama

Having lost five straight to their arch rival, what the Tigers need to do more than anything this year is reverse the Tide and hand the folks from Alabama a good ole fashioned whooping. The time has never been better. Alabama lost a good bit of its core on defense and has to replace a three-year starter at center. The Crimson Tide is also faced with needing to insert a new signal caller for the third year in a row. Nick Saban was able to overcome starting a new quarterback last year with the help of a stingy, experienced defense and Ryan Kelly keeping said quarterback off of the ground. Alabama will have neither advantage this season while LSU returns 18 starters. If he hasn’t done so by now, this is the game Brandon Harris will need to prove he can get the job done, though Alabama likely won’t have the same success it had stopping LSU’s running game as it did last season. Most of the players responsible for shutting down Leonard Fournette have departed, and because Saban’s recruiting has shifted ever so slightly toward stopping spread offenses in recent years, the Tigers’ physical rushing attack just might have the upper hand this time around. No matter the variables surrounding this game, you know Nick Saban will have his team ready to play and these two powerhouses will fight tooth and nail. They do it every year. This year, however, the Tigers will likely enter the game favored, and at home. 165 days and counting!

Now for a quick update on the football recruiting front: 

• LSU picked up its 12th commitment for 2017 yesterday when defensive end Aaron Moffit gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Moffitt (6-4, 245, Catholic High) is the son of longtime LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt, and naturally some people will assume that’s the reason he got the offer. The reality is he’s a good player in his own right whose recruitment really started to pick up after he helped lead the Class 5A Bears to their first-ever state championship. Moffitt chose LSU over offers from  South Carolina, Purdue, California, Duke, Jackson State, San Diego State, and several in-state schools including UL-M, UL-Lafayette and Tulane. With his pledge, the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class now contains 11 commitments and is all the way up to No. 5 in 247Sports’ national team recruiting rankings.  

• LSU could pick up another commitment very soon as offensive guard Saahdiq Charles is expected to announce his school of choice sometime today. He is reportedly down to Mississippi State and LSU, and all signs point to him choosing the Tigers.

• LSU quarterback commit Lowell Narcisse threw for four touchdowns during his St. James High School spring game. Here are video highlights for those of you who want to see what kind of QB LSU will be getting. 

• Of course, LSU also has a commitment from another big-time quarterback – Myles Brennan of Bay Saint Louis, MS. Yesterday Brennan reaffirmed his commitment to LSU on Twitter, which was good to see considering it came on the heels of him receiving an offer from Ole Miss. 

Lastly, as many of you have heard by now, there’s some sad news to pass along about LSU’s beloved live Tiger mascot, Mike VI. According to a news release by LSU, doctors say the cancer is inoperable and incurable. A tumor on the right side of Mike’s nose will be treated at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center with a highly sophisticated form of radiation therapy called “Stereotactic radiotherapy,” or SRT.  What makes the news even sadder is that even with the treatment, Mike is not expected to survive more than another year or two. Bon courage, Mike. The Tiger Nation is praying for you!

5/23/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Well, how ’bout that for a weekend! As already covered in yesterday’s update, the LSU baseball team concluded the regular season with a series win over top-ranked Florida, giving the Tigers 19 league wins on the season. Then yesterday, the LSU softball team shut out Arizona State, 2-0, in the NCAA Regional championship to advance to the Super Regionals. And on the football recruiting front, LSU’s 2017 class vaulted into the top-10 in the national rankings with three commitments from this weekend’s Bayou Picnic. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s a great time be a Tiger!

We’ll turn back to LSU softball and baseball in a moment, but first, a quick word to let you know that I need your help with an annual feature we’ll begin in three days - our 100-day countdown to the start of LSU football’s 2016 season. Yep, that’s right, the start of LSU’s football season is just 103 days away. Amazing how time flies, isn’t it? For this year’s countdown, we’ll stick to the flexible format we introduced a couple of 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 96-90 (we’ve already chosen topics for the first few days), please send them my way. Your help is appreciated!

Back to our normal order of business… For the fifth time in program history and the second time in as many years, the LSU softball team is headed to the Super Regionals. The Tigers punched their ticket with a 2-0 win over Arizona State yesterday, cruising through the Baton Regional without a loss. Allie Walljasper (10-5) and Carley Hoover, the regional most valuable player, combined for a dominant outing in the circle, limiting the Sun Devils to just four hits, and the Tigers played impeccable defense. It should be noted, however, that LSU did get the benefit of a very controversial call late in the game. With the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, an ASU runner tagged from third on a popup to leftfield and there was a bang-bang play at the plate. The umpire called the runner out, saying she failed to touch the plate, but the replay showed that it could have very easily been called the other way. Arizona State co-interim head coach Robert Wagner went on a tirade about the call and was ejected from the game. Whether that was the right call or not, let’s not let it take away from the outstanding game the Tigers played. LSU out-hit ASU 6-4 and played error-free defense while ASU committed one costly error in the second when an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt allowed LSU to put across what would be the winning run. Here are the game’s complete boxscore and LSU’s video recap.

LSU will now advance to the super regional round, traveling to take on James Madison this weekend in a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the 2016 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. Just so you know, the last time LSU hit the road for a softball super regional, 2012, the Tigers advanced to the Women’s College World Series.

Turning to baseball, by the time most of you are reading this, LSU will be on its way to Hoover, Alabama for the SEC baseball tournament which begins tomorrow. The team departs at 8:30 this morning and will practice at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium at 5:00 this afternoon. The Tigers’ first game will be a single-elimination contest against Tennessee tomorrow at 8 p.m. As of the time of this writing, Coach Mainieri has not announced his pitching plans for the game, and it will be interesting to see which starter he decides to go with. I suspect he’ll go with ace Alex Lange to minimize the chances of a quick exit from the tournament, but he could choose to save his ace for a rematch against Florida, which would come on Wednesday should the Tigers win tomorrow and advance to the double-elimination round. As soon his plans are announced, I’ll tweet the news to those of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter

Now let’s return our attention to the football series we started on LSU’s 2016 opponents. We left off on Week 5, so today we’ll pick up from there. Since we’ll soon be starting our 100-day countdown, I’m going to speed up this series by giving you two or three at a time from here on out. Here we go…

LSU’s 2016 Football Opponents

Week 6 - Oct. 8 @ Florida

Sort of like last season, Tennessee is garnering most of the SEC East preseason hype while Florida continues to fly under the radar. But in actuality, the Gators could be the team to beat. NFL defensive mind Jack Del Rio’s son, Luke Del Rio, starred in the spring game at quarterback and looks to be a step up from Treon Harris. Throw in talented receivers like Antonio Callaway and junior college transfer running back Mark Thompson (remember that name), and this Gator offense could be a sight to see under Jim McElwain. Remember, before Will Grier was suspended for violating the drug policy, this Gator offense was scary and put it on Ole Miss in a 38-10 victory. The Gators obviously weren’t the same after they lost Grier, but if Del Rio proves to be as good as advertised, the Tigers will have their hands full on defense. This could be a game in which the offense needs to shine. Florida’s defensive line will be stout with Bryan Cox Jr. leading the charge, so Brandon Harris will need to find his targets. That’s not to say he’ll have a whole lot of openings in the secondary either, as Jalen Tabor heads another talented Gators backfield. In other words, this game, in the Swamp I might add, will be an extremely tough contest for the Tigers. Florida surprised many in the East last year, and with this much talent returning, expect the Gators to build on that.

Week 7 - Oct. 15 vs. Southern Miss

New coach and all, Southern Miss is on the rise. Something you’ll notice about LSU’s out-of-conference opponents this year is that they’re not your typical “cupcakes.” Southern Miss struggled year in and year out before breaking through last season with a 9-3 record. Now, they return starting quarterback Nick Mullens, who passed for 4,476 yards and 38 touchdowns a year ago, as well as a handful of running backs, several receivers (top targets Mike Thomas and Casey Martin are gone) and the interior of its offensive line. This game reminds me of the Western Kentucky contest a year ago when LSU had to prepare for a very good passing attack in Brandon Doughty. LSU didn’t underestimate the Hilltoppers, and besides a few long touchdown passes, kept Doughty in check in a 48-20 win. This should be a similar contest with Brandon Harris and Leonard Fournette padding their stats in a comfortable win. 

If you missed Weeks 1 through 5 of this series, you can find them here.

In closing, please note that I’ll be updating our Ticket Exchange page later today. If you have tickets for sale, or just want to chime in on any of the topics discussed lately, drop me a line. And don’t forget, if you have suggestions for our football countdown, please let me know.

5/22/16 5:55 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Another outstanding day for LSU sports is in the books, making for a lot to cover in today’s daily dose of Tiger News. Pour yourself a large cup of joe, get comfortable, and let’s get right to it.

The LSU baseball team took one of two games yesterday against Florida to conclude the regular season with a very impressive series win against the No. 1 team in the country. The Tigers clinched the series with a 7-3 win in the resumption of Game 1, and then went on to lose the finale, 6-2. It was a bit of a bummer to not win Game 3 and serve Florida its first series sweep since losing three to LSU in 2013, but there’s an awful lot to like about taking two out of three against the consensus top-ranked team in the country. I’m as proud as I can be of these Tigers, and the weekend’s wins only validate the remarkable improvement they’ve made over the course of the season after beginning league play 2-4 in late March. With the series victory – the Tigers’ third in as many weeks – LSU concluded the regular season with 11 wins in its last 12 games, an overall record of 39-17, and an SEC record of 19-11. That, my friends, is nothing to sneeze at. 

In case you missed the games, here’s a very quick rundown of yesterday’s action: 

The first game of the day (a resumption of Thursday’s postponed game) began as a scoreless contest with a full-count to Antoine Duplantis, a runner on second and one out. Duplantis walked on one pitch, then back-to-back singles by Jake Fraley and Kramer Robertson gave LSU a quick 1-0 lead. The Gators fought back to even the game in the top of the fourth with a score on a passed ball. LSU regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning when Deichmann singled through the right side to make it a 2-1 game and then added to the game with five runs in the fifth. One of the key at-bats in the frame came when freshman Chris Reid drew a 10-pitch two-out walk to load the bases. In what should come as no surprise to anyone, Bryce Jordan followed by getting hit by a pitch to score a run, then brother Beau drew a walk to plate another. Next up was Deichmann who continued his big game with a bases-clearing double to make it a 7-1 game. Florida would answer with two runs in the sixth off Riley Smith to make it 7-3, but that would be all for the Gators as Parker Bugg came in and had his best outing as a Tiger retiring the final nine batters in order. Bugg’s pitching and Deichmann’s 4-RBI offensive explosion were the highlights of the game. (Here are Game 1’s video highlights and complete boxscore.)

In the series finale, the Gators jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with an RBI double and an RBI single off of starter Caleb Gilbert. LSU answered in the bottom half of the inning with a solo shot by Jake Fraley, his third home run of the season. Florida put up four runs on three hits in the fifth inning to take a 6-1 lead. With the bases loaded after a pair of singles and a hit by pitch, an RBI double down the left field line off of reliever Russell Reynolds cleared the bases. The final run of the frame came on a sacrifice fly. LSU narrowed the deficit to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth on a one-out triple by Kramer Robertson and an RBI double by Reid, but that was as close as they would get. The highlights of the game, in my opinion, were the continued hot hitting of freshman Chris Reid who was moved to the cleanup spot and went 2-for-3, and the pitching of redshirt freshman Jake Latz who made his third brief appearance of the season and looked outstanding. After giving up a leadoff double, Latz went on to strikeout three of the next four batters he faced in his one-inning showing. If Latz continues to be pain-free, he could prove to be a valuable asset in postseason play. (Here are Game 3’s video highlights and complete boxscore.

Winning the series against Florida and improving to 19 league wins was almost certainly enough to earn the Tigers a regional host site in the NCAA tournament, but wasn’t quit enough to earn them a top-four seed in the SEC tournament. Instead, LSU will enter the tournament, which begins Tuesday, as the fifth seed and will take on Tennessee at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Here’s a look at the complete SEC tournament bracket. It sure does says a lot about the strength of the SEC when you see that Florida, the current No. 1 team in the nation, is the No. 4 seed. For those of you wondering if LSU still has a shot at earning a top-8 national seed in the NCAA tournament, the answer is yes, although it would likely take reaching the SEC tournament championship game to do so. If LSU continues to play like it has in the last three weeks, anything is possible for these Tigers.

In softball news, LSU defeated McNeese State 4-1 to advance to today’s NCAA Regional Championship. The Tigers scored a two-out run in the first and another in the third to take control early and never looked back. McNeese cut the lead to one in the sixth before LSU scored a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to make the score 4-1. Leading the way for the Tigers offensively was junior Sahvanna Jaquish, who became the second LSU player in program to earn 200 RBIs in a career, driving in three on a 3-for-4 day with a double. Emily Griggs was the only other player with multiple hits, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. On the day, six different players earned hits as the Tigers finished with double-digits for the second consecutive game with 10. Pitcher Carley Hoover (20-7) earned her second win of the weekend as she held McNeese State to a run on five hits with eight strikeouts on 100 pitches tossed. With the win, the South Carolina native became the first LSU pitcher since Rachele Fico in 2013 to earn at least 20 wins in a single season.

In football recruiting news, LSU’s Bayou Picnic proved to be very productive as LSU secured two more verbal pledges yesterday to give LSU its second and third commitment in a 24-hour span. Less than a day after securing a commitment from elite offensive lineman Austin Deculus, LSU received a commitment from the nation’s top JUCO wide receiver, Stephen Guidry. The 6-4, 190-pounder originally from Morganza, LA, graduated from Livonia High School in May of 2015 with an impressive highlight reel but went largely unheralded because of concerns that he couldn’t qualify academically. Guidry enrolled at McNeese State as a partial qualifier in the fall before transferring to Hinds Community College where he worked to get his grades in order. He now holds offers from just about all of the country’s major programs and chose LSU over Alabama and South Carolina.  Shortly after receiving the commitment from Guidry, LSU landed another from Tory Carter (6-2, 255) of Leesburg, GA.  I don’t know a lot about Carter other than that he saw action at Lee County High School as a tight end, fullback, and defensive end and is being recruited by LSU as a fullback. Carter’s only other reported offers are from Troy and Jacksonville State. With the additions of Guidry and Carter, LSU’s 2017 recruiting class now has 10 commitments and is ranked 10th in the nation in 247Sports’ early national rankings.

Closing tidbits:

• It looks like a statue of legendary LSU baseball coach and athletic director Skip Bertman is coming to LSU, and I think that’s great. Details about the design and construction of the statue will be announced in the coming months. In the meantime, here’s LSU’s full press release on the topic sent out yesterday.

• Since today’s “daily dose” is already 1400 words long, we’ll continue our look at LSU’s 2016 football opponents in tomorrow’s report. Enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans!

 

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