Don’t be disappointed: LSU baseball played as well as it could this year
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So, that’s that
The 2018 LSU baseball season came to an end late Sunday night when the Tigers fell 12-0 to Oregon State in the Corvallis Regional, eliminating the Tigers from the postseason and ending the campaign with a 39-27 record.
On the surface, getting bounced in the regional round might seem a little disappointing by LSU baseball standards. After all, this marks the first year since 2014 that LSU won’t advance to super regionals and the first time since 2010 LSU lost a postseason series away from Alex Box Stadium or Omaha, Neb.
But given what LSU had to play through this season, winning 39 games and making it to the postseason was an achievement in its own right. Let’s not forget everything LSU had to overcome. Losing its entire starting pitching rotation. Four everyday position players departed in the MLB Draft. A starting shortstop and leadoff hitter gone for the season after one week. Your best pitching prospect throwing twice all season.
For any other team, absorbing that much change and adversity likely would’ve — and definitely should’ve — sunk a team.
Don’t consider this an excuse. If you’re the type of person who believes programs such as LSU aren’t allowed to have “rebuilding years,” stick to your convictions. LSU is a true blue blood of college baseball, and any year the team doesn’t host regionals is a little disappointing.
But if you’re going to be pragmatic about things, recognize that LSU turned a transition year into a playoff berth. The Tigers were never going to win the College World Series this season. Not without Eric Walker. Not without Josh Smith. Not after losing Alex Lange and Jared Poché and Greg Deichmann and Michael Papierski and Kramer Robertson and Cole Freeman. There was just too much youthful inexperience on the roster to overcome.
But just as an underwhelming 2014 finish begat a College World Series run in 2015 and a saddening end to the 2016 season led to a College World Series run in 2017, LSU’s shortcomings in 2018 could lead to more success in 2019.
Walker will be back to anchor a pitching staff that returns Ma’Khail Hilliard, Nick Bush and AJ Labas, should serve as an introduction to Nick Storz and could bring back Zack Hess depending on MLB draft fates. And Smith will return to lead LSU’s offense alongside freshman standout Daniel Cabrera and, more than likely, rising senior outfielder Antoine Duplantis and his chase for LSU’s all-time hits record.
It’s hard not to get excited about what LSU has going for it in 2019. There’s just something about odd years in Baton Rouge, right?. 2017? College World Series. 2015? College World Series. 2013? College World Series. 2009? National champions.
Maybe 10 years later, LSU can find some of that magic again.
Speaking of Zack Hess …
We’ll learn a lot more about the future of the LSU baseball team on Monday when the first two rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft take place. Two LSU players have a chance to be selected in these first two rounds, Hess and center fielder Zach Watson. Both are draft-eligible sophomores projected to be selected among the first 100 picks, usually a threshold indicating a player won’t return to college.
But Hess and Watson aren’t the only names to watch. Five LSU commits for the Class of 2018 rank among the top 200 prospects in the class, according to MLB.com. For those who aren’t indoctrinated into the world of college baseball recruiting, here are the names to watch for over the next couple of days:
- Shortstop Brice Turang (No. 25 prospect)
- Outfielder Elijah Cabell (No. 101 prospect)
- Right-handed pitcher Landon Marceaux (No. 117 prospect)
- Right-handed pitcher Cole Henry (No. 137 prospect)
- Right-handed pitcher Levi Kelly (No. 182 prospect)
Were you too focused on baseball to keep up with football news over the weekend? You wouldn’t be alone. In case you missed anything, here’s a recap: