5/23/15 5:35 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Top-ranked LSU (48-9), the 2015 SEC regular-season champion, will be looking to earn its third straight berth in the SEC Baseball Tournament championship game today when the Tigers face Florida at the Hoover Met at approximately 3:30. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and is scheduled to start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first semifinal game between Texas A&M and Vanderbilt, which begins at Noon.
With ace freshman right-hander Alex Lange getting the start in today’s game, Tiger fans have every reason to be confident of LSU surviving today’s elimination game and advancing to tomorrow’s tournament championship. Lange, the 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year, is 10-0 on the season and No. 2 in the SEC in ERA (2.11) and in strikeouts (91). Hopefully he will give the Tigers six or more strong innings to preserve LSU’s bullpen for tomorrow. As noted in yesterday’s report, LSU starting pitchers Jared Poché and Austin Bain struggled in the first two games of the tournament and only lasted a combined 2.2 innings, but fortunately they were picked up by Jack Wholestaff, the name Coaches Mainieri and Dunn use when referring to stringing together a bevy of relief pitchers to get the job done. If the Tigers get the job done today, we are likely to see Jared Poché get the start in tomorrow’s championship game, which is slated for 3:30 on ESPN2. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Today LSU will face a Gator team that is ranked 6th in the nation and has been playing very well as of late. In fact, in yesterday’s game against Arkansas, the Gators run ruled the Hogs, 10-0 in seven innings, and got a complete game pitching performance from A. J. Puk. The Gators are expected to start freshman right-hander Alex Faedo (4-1, 3.59 ERA) in today’s game. The last time LSU and Florida squared off was in last year’s SEC Tournament championship game, a contest LSU won 2-0.
I’ll have a house full of company today so I won’t be tweeting as much as normal, but I will tweet occasional score updates for those of you needing to sneak a peak at your smart phones to keep up with the action while working or attending graduation ceremonies.
In softball news, after a thrilling comeback last week that allowed the team to continue their record-breaking season, No. 8 LSU will return to action today at 2 p.m. against No. 16 Arizona in Super Regional action at Tiger Park. The best-of-three series will be played over two days, and today’s game will be televised on ESPNNews. Sunday’s action begins at 4 p.m. on ESPN, with the if-necessary game being played 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first game on ESPN2.
The Tigers started the season on fire and won their first 25 games, but faltered a bit down the stretch, losing six of their last nine regular season games. However, they really stepped up when they had to in NCAA Regional play and won three consecutive elimination games to get to where they are today. This weekend’s series ought to be a great one, as it will pit Arizona’s potent offense, which ranks third in the nation in home runs (104) and fourth in batting average (.355), against LSU’s outstanding pitching staff which ranks seventh in the nation in ERA (1.77). Arizona is 10-4 all-time vs. LSU, including 4-2 in NCAA Tournament play. Earlier this season, the Tigers defeated the Wildcats 4-3 in the Mary Nutter Invitational.
Now let’s conclude today’s report with another installment of our series on LSU football’s 2015 signing class by looking at another talented position group, wide receivers. In case you missed it, earlier in the week we previewed defensive backs and running backs. You can find those installments by navigating to previous reports.
When wide receivers Tyron Johnson (6’1”, 191), Jazz Ferguson (6’5”, 205) and Derrick Dillon (5’11, 173) join the team this fall, it’s going to be a challenge for them to stand out in an already crowded unit. The returning Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, D.J. Chark, Trey Quinn and John Diarse have the skill and experience necessary to start in 2015, although Johnson, Ferguson and Dillon each possess qualities that can’t be overlooked.
Warren Easton’s Johnson, No. 1 on our list of Top Louisiana Prospects - 2015, recorded 94 receptions, 1,589 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior in high school. Great hands and elusiveness in the open field (hurdling players on the high school level) are among his many strengths.
As for West Feliciana’s Ferguson, his 6-foot-5 frame makes him the tallest receiver on the roster. Ferguson, who was No. 11 on our Louisiana prospects list and recorded 889 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions a year ago, could become a viable option in goal line situations.
The best bet for Dillon to see the field in 2015 might be on special teams. The No. 13 prospect on our list out of Pine is a versatile, explosive athlete who exhibited an extra gear in the open field at the high school level. That burst provided 1,927 receiving yards and 26 scores in return situations in 2014.
LSU’s other wide receiver signee, Brandon Martin (6’4”, 205), unfortunately had to enroll at Mississippi Gulf Coast because of academic issues, although that was pretty much expected when he signed. The 3-star prospect out of Prime Prep Academy in Texas told 247 Sports that he hopes to be at LSU in December.
Of course, the big question is whether LSU will have a quarterback who can effectively get the ball to this talented group of receivers. According to this article by Jaques Doucet, Coach Les Miles says Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris are 'night and day better’ than last year.
That’s it for today folks. Enjoy the day!