Tompkins returning to LSU for senior season

The LSU baseball team got some much-needed good news for the 2003 season.<br><br>After staff ace Lane Mestepey underwent surgery last month that could force him to sit out next year, it was learned yesterday that right-handed pitcher Jake Tompkins has decided to return to LSU for his senior season. Tompkins says he wants to earn his degree instead of joining the Texas Rangers.

Tompkins and the Rangers broke off negotiations after the team made him their 28th round pick in last month's first-year player draft.

"I went over all the positives and negatives and the fact is I wanted to come back to school and get my degree, Tompkins told Carl Dubois of The Advocate. "The way I see it, I can always go pro next year."

Tompkins was named to second-team All-Southeastern Conference squad after posting a 7-1 record, four saves and a 2.68 earned run average in the 2002 season. He began the year as one of the Tigers starters but was transitioned to the closer's role midway throgh the season.

LSU coaches are still waiting to see if they will get one more member of their pitching staff back for 2003. Right-hander Bo Pettit was a 13th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins. With Pettit returning, the Tigers would probably make Tompkins a starter again and complete the rotation with Brian Wilson.

Mestepey underwent surgery in June to repair his pitching shoulder and his rehabilitation is expected to keep him out at least until next March. This has the coaching staff strongly considering a redshirt for the two-time All-SEC left-hander.

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