Editor's note: This article is a part of a head-to-head. Read the other article here.
My eardrums nearly burst as the person sitting behind me belted out a high-pitched scream. I could barely let out a whimper as the wind began to whirl past me.
As the roller coaster hurled its riders back to Earth, I began to question why I decided to get on the ride in the first place. In the midst of hanging on for dear life, I briefly took notice of how others were coping with the experience.
Some reacted like the first-timer sitting behind me, yelling at the top of their lungs as if they were expecting a tragic derailment. Others embraced the thrill of the ride, throwing their hands in the air for full effect. That’s when I realized that, while there isn’t a wrong way to react on a roller coaster, you certainly get more out of the ride if you’re not trembling in fear the entire time.
A typical college baseball season is packed with games from start to finish that take fans on a journey of highs and lows similar to a roller coaster ride.
One day, an opponent defeats you by seven runs, the next day you beat the same opponent by 12 runs. That’s simply one example of the many times baseball doesn’t seem to follow a logical pattern, but it certainly doesn’t stop fans from screaming at the top of their lungs when it feels like the season is about to fly off the tracks.
This is especially true for the passionate LSU fan base. Many don’t think this year’s LSU baseball team has what it takes to be great, and some have downright given up on the season already.
No sooner the University announced that Scott Woodward would take the reigns as the new athletic director, fans began voicing their opinions about how LSU coach Paul Mainieri should be one of the first coaches evaluated. Give me a break.
Upset that the Tigers lost a few pointless midweek games? Angry that team has fallen from their preseason No. 1 rank?
This may surprise some people, but the LSU team that began the season as a preseason No. 1 is the same LSU team now. I still believe the Tigers represent one of the best baseball teams in the country and have a legitimate chance at going to the College World Series this year.
I understand making the World Series is a task easier said than done though, and it’s going to take the right combination of pitching and hitting if the Tigers want to make another trip to Omaha, Nebraska.
While LSU’s pitching staff has only posted the seventh best earned run average in the Southeastern Conference up to this point in the season, more consistency could be around the corner for the Tigers as the starters begin to establish themselves.
Pitcher Cole Henry has the ability to be an ace in LSU’s pitching rotation, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the Friday night starter moving forward.
Sunday is another obvious call with pitcher Eric Walker, who performs more like he did before his 2018 Tommy John surgery with each passing week.
The Saturday starting role belongs to Zack Hess as soon as he returns to full health. While Hess has proven time and again to be one of LSU’s best pitchers out of the bullpen, there isn’t another pitcher with the experience and the ability to anchor a starting pitcher job like Hess.
LSU’s bullpen could also see improvement as the coaching staff continues to become familiar with the relievers that represent the best fit in certain situations.
The hitting lineup is the area that could go in a few interesting directions. By that, I mean that LSU’s best lineup may involve moving outfielder Zach Watson to second base.
This may seem crazy on the surface, but I’d like to remind everyone that Watson was a star shortstop in high school. My idea is also not out of the realm of possibility as Austin Bain converted from full-time pitcher to part-time second baseman last year.
With Watson at second, Giovanni DiGiacomo would move to centerfield leaving the designated hitter spot open. From there, Mainieri is free to choose the hottest bat among the likes of CJ Willis, Drew Bianco, Brock Mathis, Brandt Broussard and Hal Hughes to fill the DH spot.
Chris Reid and Cade Beloso are the obvious choices to hold down the third and first base corners, respectively, and I think Saul Garza is finally proving himself as this team’s catcher.
Since there’s only a minuscule chance that Mainieri reads this column and an even smaller chance that Mainieri reads this and decides to use my idea, it’s safe to say we’ll never see Watson in the infield.
LSU is a World Series-caliber team no matter who plays second base. The Tigers are a projected national seed with one game back from first place in the SEC West and are in perfect position to hit their stride at the right time.
The roller coaster ride is almost finished, but fans will miss out on what could be a special season if they continue to complain the entire time. Enjoy the ride, Tiger fans. It goes by faster than you think.