With 15 appearances under his belt, Ott said that he is halfway home to shaking the freshman label of youth and inexperience.
“I do not feel like I have any more confidence now than I did when I arrived to LSU, because I have always had the utmost confidence in myself,” he said. “But, I think that I am losing the feel of being a freshman that puts batters on a pedestal. Now, I just look at them and, no matter how good they are, I realize that I am pretty good as well.”
That sort of confidence is just what Mainieri needed to replace Coleman, the staff’s most experienced arm in the closer role.
With a 2-1 record and six saves to his credit, Ott said that he is simply glad that the ball is in his hands.
“It is good to just know that you have a role and that I am not having to jump from middle relief to the closer spot,” he said. “I know that each day I can get out there and my job remains the same.
“Coach comes up to me in the eighth inning and says to get ready,” added Ott. “For me, it is good to know that I am headed into the game knowing that I have a job to do.”
Ott has seen his tests, though his 1.96 ERA does not show it. He is tied for the lead in the conference with six saves and his 15 appearances is tied for third.
Against Ole Miss in the Tigers’ last home series, the save artist found himself in a bind late during Saturday’s game.
Stepping in to relieve Coleman, the freshman right-hander allowed five hits and three earned runs over 1.1 innings of work.
The Rebels managed a pair of hits without the ball reaching the outfield, a situation that left Ott a bit high and dry.
Of course, three strikeouts later, Ott turned the Rebels away to secure the 6-5 win.
“I made up my mind that they were not going to get anything from me, because they were not really getting that good of contact,” he said. “I settled in knowing that it would eventually stop, and it did.”
That situation, as tight as it might have seemed at the time, afforded Ott a learning opportunity that will carry him a long way down the road.
“I had never been put in a game with just a one-run lead, let alone one that I had created,” he said. “You just have to learn from it. Of course, the next day I was right back out there in the same situation, so it was a good thing for me.”
With 23 innings of work behind him, the freshman said that things at the collegiate level are coming smoother than expected.
“I thought it would be a lot more pressure, but once you get going it is fine,” Ott said. “I just can’t make the same mistakes I did in high school, and I really focus on getting deeper into my counts now than I ever have before.
“For the most part, though, it is just me and Gibbs out there throwing back and forth, and I tone everything else out.”
At Holy Cross High School in 2008, the New Orleans native posted a 9-2 record with a 1.97 ERA, 16 walks and 87 strikeouts in 67.2 innings of work.
The performance earned Ott 2008 LSWA All State First Team honors, which landed him in the office of Tiger pitching coach David Grewe this past fall.
“Coach called me into his office to talk about my future with LSU, and he asked me to set a goal for myself,” he said. “I told him that I wanted to be someone at LSU, and not just another guy. I want to be known for helping this team win, and I let the coaches know that.”
What happened from there, of course, is history.