Expectations have been high for LSU baseball since Skip Bertman’s success in the 1990s. The 2019 season is no exception to those standards.
After an early exit in the 2018 NCAA Regional tournament to the eventual College World Series winner Oregon State, LSU enters the preseason ranked No. 1 in the country ahead of fellow perennial powerhouses like Vanderbilt, Florida and Oregon State.
The Tigers are returning veteran position players like outfielders Antoine Duplantis and Zach Watson, as well as a loaded pitching staff featuring Zack Hess and Caleb Gilbert — all of whom are expected to be major contributors for the team’s preseason ranking.
Adding to the talented roster, coach Paul Mainieri bolstered the pitching staff by adding Eric Walker to the rotation after sitting out the entire 2018 season because of Tommy John surgery. The Tigers expect another great campaign from Ma’Khail Hilliard after taking over the role of ace pitcher last season.
In addition to the returning players, the Tigers successful tradition and high expectations stem from the ability to recruit. Mainieri added depth to his team in the offseason with the top ranked recruiting class in the country for the fifth time at LSU. The class includes seven Major League Baseball draft picks.
Such a talented crop of young players gives Mainieri the opportunity to reinforce his rotation and lineup after an injury prone 2018 season. The chronic injuries of Josh Smith and Nick Storz forced players to assume new, more demanding roles, causing inconsistencies throughout the year.
The Tiger faithful expect nothing but exceptional play from their sports teams. Adding the depth of this recruiting class to the experience and leadership of the upperclassmen could be the difference in an early postseason exit or a deep championship run for the 2019 season.