Growing up in Pflugerville, Texas, Micah Gibbs could never escape the burnt orange influence.
“Texas Longhorns stuff was everywhere,” he said. “There is no getting around it.”
By college, however, the sophomore catcher had found a way to bypass the Longhorns.
“I signed with LSU,” he said with a smile. “I had always been a fan, so when the staff offered I jumped at the opportunity. Did I know it would come to this? Of course not.”
Yet, he is happy it did.
The Tigers had drawn the NCAA Tournament’s top seeded squad – the Texas Longhorns, the same team Gibbs had grown up rooting against.
After Texas saved their season with a game two win, the final match played out for all the marbles.
As the Longhorns took infield prior to game three, Gibbs stood outside the Tiger dugout in silence. After a few minutes, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound masked man spoke.
“They are going to have to call me a psychologist if we lose,” he whispered under his breath. “I mean, I would be upset either way if we lost this game. But to lose it to Texas, I don’t think I could take that.”
That night, the sophomore was 2-for-4 with a team high two runs – a performance that made certain he would not have to endure the feeling of losing to the Longhorns.
As the Tigers took to their postgame celebrations, Gibbs was all smiles.
“This is sweet already,” he said. “Playing for the team I love against the team I grew up against. Could it get any better?”
Coming off of last year’s disappointing trip to Omaha, the feeling is one that Gibbs has waited patiently to experience.
“After last year’s loss, we got together and made a point to verbalize the fact that we were going to win it all,” he said. “We made it a goal, and we accomplished it. We had been so consistent all year, especially with the attitude of not losing two games straight.
“We only ended up dropping two in a row once all season, and it surely did not come in the last two games,” he laughed.
Gibbs, perhaps better than anyone else on the team, knows the benefit the pitching staff brought.
“Our pitchers were so emotional, and people need to realize that they were the real strength behind everything,” Gibbs said. “Ranaudo pitching in the clutch in the final game was outstanding, just as he had been all year. Then you look down at Louis and see the consistency of a veteran, and it all starts to show.
“Even Chad Jones represents a big part of the team, showing the ability for anyone at any moment to step into the spotlight and perform,” he added. “It was a wonderful run, and I was glad to be behind the plate for it.”
What are the Tigers’ chances of a return trip to Omaha next summer?
“Chances look good,” Gibbs said with a smile. “And if Texas can be there again, that would be good too.”