“I’m excited about seeing it myself because I’ve heard so much about post-season play in the Box and how there’s nothing else like it,” Mainieri said. “I wish it was Friday already.”
The remarkable run that LSU has been on over the last five weeks which includes a 20-game win streak has brought the fans back to Alex Box in droves.
The atmosphere is sure to be something special for the players but Mainieri expects his guys to be focused on what is going on between the lines rather than in the stands.
“Our players are taught that it doesn’t matter if there are 7,000 fans or 70 people in the stands,” said Mainieri. “They understand that there is a right way and a wrong to play the game, and my kids are going to play the right way no matter who is here.
“They are going to hustle, back up bases, be aggressive, be confident and be poised. There focus is going to be on the team in the other uniform but let me tell you it’s going to be wonderful to hear all of those people screaming for us.”
Texas Southern (16-32) is not the type of team you typically see in Regional action based on its record.
However, after winning the SWAC tournament and riding a six-game winning streak of its own, Mainieri said his club seems to have the right attitude towards its next opponent.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) was a wonderful practice with good tempo,” he said. “Guys were bearing down and working just like they work every day. They come here every day and know what they are supposed to do. They have a lot of concentration and a lot of focus. We swung the bats so well yesterday in practice that it was scary.”
Maintaining focus on the opponent could be difficult for some because Texas Southern has dropped twice as many games as it has won and although the Tigers are hitting .303 as a team the opposition is averaging nine runs an outing against their pitching.
It’s obvious that Texas Southern does not have the hitting or pitching that UNO and Southern Miss have but the Tigers from the SWAC are more than capable of pulling off the upset if LSU is caught looking ahead.
“They are hitting .300 as a team and they have some good athletes,” Mainieri said. “When you get to this point in the season you have to respect all of your opponents and I can promise you that we respect Texas Southern, UNO and Southern Miss as much as we could possibly respect an opponent. We’re going to take them one game at a time and do the very best we can each day then turn the page after the game is over.”
Kyle Beerbohm was throwing batting practice to the lefties on Wednesday in anticipation of having to possibly face junior southpaw Ehern Moreno (2-4, 8.03 ERA) or senior right-hander Rashad Ford (3-5, 5.21 ERA) on Friday.
Mainieri said the Tigers would have a typical Thursday night practice on Wednesday where he described it as “Very relaxed and competitive. The infielders will take ground balls and the outfielders will take fly balls. Then we will play a game called 4-man ball which is a competitive game where there is no base-running and no throwing in it. It’s just base running and hitting.”
LSU will get some early work in the batting cages from 9-10 on Thursday and then will practice on the field from 10-11:15 in the morning.
The 25-man roster will be turned in Thursday evening and all eyes are on backup catcher Sean Ochinko to see if he is active.
“Today, Ochinko looked pretty good squatting and catching the bullpen,” Mainieri said on Wednesday. “Yesterday he took batting practice and looked really good so my guess is he will be ready to go.”
If Ochinko can’t go then Kevin Farnsworth will be active for the regional.