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When you grow up a stone's throw from Baton Rouge, purple and gold usually runs through your blood from an early age. To be an actual Tiger athlete, however, is realizing a completely different type of passion. For freshman right fielder Mikie Mahtook, the 2009 season represents the reason he has always loved baseball.

If you were around Lafayette the last few years, there is a good chance that you have heard the name Mikie Mahtook.

He batted .450 his senior year with 13 home runs, 45 RBI and 25 stolen bases at St. Thomas More, earning him First Team All-State honors.

The No. 81-ranked quarterback in the nation according to Scout.com, Mahtook earned All-State honors from under center as well.

By the time it was all said and done, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder had helped lead STM to three baseball district championships and two football district titles.

He entertained the idea of playing quarterback in college, but in the end his true love won out.

36 games into his first season of college baseball, Mahtook said that his life has never been better.

“I have been dreaming of being an LSU baseball player my entire life,” he said. “This is all I have ever wanted.”

With the a new Alex Box Stadium and a No. 1 ranking to boot, Mahtook said that things are still a bit hard for him to fathom.

“I won’t ever forget the first time I saw my jersey. I put it on and looked down and saw LSU, so then I had to run to the mirror to really see if my name was on the back,” he said with a laugh.

“This whole process has really been humbling.”

The freshman has appeared in 27 games with 14 starts, benefitting in large part to the departure of Chad Jones and the inconsistent play of Derek Helenihi in right field.

He is batting .364 with 14 RBI on 20 hits. His .618 SLG % is also best on the team.

While the transition might appear seamless, Mahtook said that the struggle has been there.

“It really has not been easy for me,” he said. “This is such a big difference from where I was at in high school. The more I see pitchers, the better I get. I had to build up more confidence as well, so things were not perfect.”

Of course, despite the stress of attempting to break into the nation’s top-ranked team’s starting lineup, Mahtook is having as much fun as he can with his time as a Tiger.

“This is what I have always wanted to do with baseball, so I am enjoying every last bit of it,” he said. “From the fans to the actual game, I just cherish it all.”

True to his word after Tuesday night’s 8-6 win over New Orleans, Mahtook was among the last Tigers to head to the locker room.

After a red-hot 3-for-4 night at the plate, the freshman closed out his evening with a Sharpie in hand and nothing but time for Tiger fans.

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