An orchestra is starting in Baton Rouge: the ringing of aluminum, the “pop” of ball meeting mitt and metal spikes crackling on infield dirt all resonate through the air.
A similar pleasant tune could be heard when the college baseball preseason polls were announced. LSU is receiving some high praise as the 2013 campaign approaches, as ESPN/USA Today ranked the Tigers No. 3 in their preseason Top 25, and Collegiate Baseball placed them in the No. 4 spot.
Despite the high expectations, the Tigers couldn’t care less about where they stand in the preseason polls.
“Preseason [rankings] don’t mean anything,” said senior first baseman Mason Katz. “My freshman year we were preseason No. 1, and we didn’t end up in the Top 25. Every day is a new game. We try to win every day.”
Last season, ESPN/USA Today placed the Tigers at No. 14 before the year began. The squad was unaffected by the ranking, as it blew through the competition en route to a potential trip to the College World Series. Stony Brook ended that dream for LSU, but the team left behind an impressive season, finishing No. 9 in the final poll.
The 2013 season brings some added pressure for the new-look Tigers program, as several new faces will man a number of key positions on the diamond.
One of those freshmen, shortstop Alex Bregman, said no one should be concerned with the young guys buckling under the stress.
“This team has worked really hard,” Bregman said. “I think we’re going to be able to handle that pressure. The polls are great, and it’s good to see us ranked fourth right now. This team is worried about where we finish the season, and we’re really excited to see how we end up.”
The squad retained a core group of veterans to help ease the new athletes into the program.
Several members of the current squad, including Katz, senior outfielder Raph Rhymes, junior catcher Ty Ross and junior second baseman JaCoby Jones among others have dealt with the expectations that come with preseason polls in the past, and now they’re looking to ease the collective minds of the young talent on the roster.
“Any time you come to LSU, the expectations are always high,” Rhymes said. “Every season, the expectation is Omaha. You can’t look at it as pressure. It’s a blessing, really. Those polls are great, and it’s pretty cool to see your school’s name ranked up there. We’re going to go with it and work hard.”