The LSU baseball program on Wednesday released its 2017 roster and schedule including a season opening three-game series against LSU coach Paul Mainieri's former squads, Air Force. The Tigers open their season at Alex Box Stadium on Feb. 17 against Air Force.
The Tigers have five consecutive NCAA Tournament National Seeds to their name, said the mix of additions in the 2017 signing class plus four players returning that were chosen in the MLB Draft give the Tigers a chance at a special season.
“(LSU recruiting coordinator/hitting coach) Andy Cannizaro and I were just saying that our best class may have come with the veteran players who decided to stay here,” said Mainieri, entering his 11th season at LSU. “It's pretty remarkable to have four drafted players of that caliber remain in school, and we're very grateful that they made the decision. Their veteran presence combined with our other returning players and a tremendous recruiting class give us a lot of optimism for a very significant 2017 season.”
Senior left-handed pitcher Jared Poche' (below), senior shortstop Kramer Robertson, senior second baseman Cole Freeman and junior first baseman Greg Deichmann all decided to return to LSU instead of beginning their pro baseball careers following selections in the draft.
LSU returns eight of its nine starting position players from last season's team, including Robertson, Freeman, Deichmann, sophomore third baseman Chris Reid, junior catcher Michael Papierski, junior left fielder Beau Jordan, sophomore right fielder Antoine Duplantis and junior designated hitter Bryce Jordan.
Senior catcher Jordan Romero, sophomore outfielder Brody Wofford, senior infielder Bryce Adams and sophomore outfielder Brennan Breaux are other returning players with starting experience.
Poche' and All-American junior right-hander Alex Lange are back for their third straight season as one of the best 1-2 weekend starting combinations in the country. The pitching staff will also feature senior right-handed closer Hunter Newman, who led the Tigers with eight saves last season.
Other veteran pitchers include senior right-handers Russell Reynolds, Collin Strall and Alden Cartwright; junior right-handers Doug Norman and Austin Bain; and sophomore right-handers Caleb Gilbert and Cole McKay.
LSU's 2017 schedule gives them a tough test with 40 percent of the schedule having advanced to regionals last season.
“Within that number, there are six Super Regional teams from last year and three that played in the College World Series. Of course, every weekend in the 30-game SEC schedule is grueling, and we have some very attractive non-conference matchups," the three-time National Coach of the Year said. "I think our fans will enjoy watching us compete against some outstanding clubs throughout the year.”
- The non-conference schedule is highlighted by a trip to Houston's Minute Maid Park for the Shriners Hospitals College Classic, as the Tigers will face TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech March 3-5.
- The Tigers open SEC play on March 17, when LSU plays host to Georgia in Game 1 of a three-game SEC series in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
- The Tigers began fall semester classes on Monday, and they will engage in a four-week period of conditioning drills and individual workouts beginning next week. LSU starts its six-week, full-squad fall practice session on Sunday, September 25.
- 11 teams on the Tigers' schedule advanced to NCAA regionals last season.
- Mainieri said he is hopeful that Cartwright and redshirt freshman left-hander Nick Bush will be healthy this spring after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Neither are scheduled to pitch during LSU's fall intrasquad games.
- Outfielder Cody Ducote has decided to leave the baseball program but will remain at LSU to earn his degree.
- Infielder O'Neal Lochridge has been declared medically disqualified due to a serious back injury suffered last season
- Catcher Trent Forshag has become a member of the team's equipment staff.