Teams arrive at Baton Rouge regional ready to take a shot at #2 seed LSU
BATON ROUGE - The LSU baseball team will have championship company in the Baton Rouge regional beginning tomorrow, but the Tigers are confident they've prepared well for the weekend.
The first opponent, Lehigh, comes to Louisiana as the Patriots League tournament champion. The Mountain Hawks have a lineup with a little pop-the team has hit 39 home runs this year- and head coach Sean Leary says he likes his team's mental toughness.
"I hope there's not a team that has more desire," Leary said on Thursday.
"We get a lot of spirit from our bench. We know we've got a challenge Friday but if we play our brand of baseball we feel we can be competitive with anybody."
The Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington also arrive as champions, from the Colonial Athletic League, and they pride themselves in what they call 'Seahawk Baseball.'
"We play fast, we play on the bases, we run, our pitching is pretty good,our bullpen is good," said Seahawks 3rd baseman Terence Connelly.
The only team in the tournament to not carry a championship banner is Tulane-the Green Wave earned an at-large bid from the American Athletic Conference-but head coach David Pierce says he's seen his team mature throughout the season.
"We don't have any superstars, we have to have everyone do their job, and if they do their job it gives us an opportunity to win," Pierce said.
Of course the Tigers themselves are the reigning SEC regular season champions, and head coach Paul Mainieri says he tries to put his team in a position to handle the pressure, as well as the competition, as best as possible.
"During the course of the year, I put a lot of pressure on the kids," Mainieri said.
I try to make them do everything perfect in practice and of course in games.
You want them to focus each game because it's important.
I do it so that when we get to the postseason and the regional they don't have to try harder or do anything out of the ordinary.
It's still the game of baseball.
The only thing that is different is that the margin of error is much smaller.
You have to take advantage of your scoring opportunities, you can't make base running mistakes, you've got to make big pitches, and you have to make the plays because the stakes are so much higher.
If all of a sudden you act differently, then the players get tight.
They won't play as well as they did all year.
I'm big about setting a standard every day.
They can relax, have fun and play the game like they do."
First pitch for the Tigers is Friday at 3pm.
Alden Cartwright will get the start for the Tigers, as he makes his first start of the season.