LSU Baseball practice report

With partly sunny skies overhead and temperatures near 70 degrees, several Tiger fans turned out Wednesday afternoon to see coach Smoke Laval's LSU ball club continued preseason drills in preparation for next week's season opener against Northwestern State. <br><br> The concern surrounding this Tiger baseball team coming into this season was finding power in the lineup.

A year ago, LSU lacked a consistent batter that hit for power game after game. For example, Matt Heath, who is not known as a power hitter, led the team with 10 home runs.


The Tigers may not have found that dominant 20 or 30 home run, but there is definitely some pop in the bats of the 2003 Tigers. The strange thing is, power these days comes in small packages.


LSU does not have the brawny slugger like the days of Eddie Furniss and Brad Cresse - it is more along the lines of the like of Mike Fontenot.


The Tigers' hottest hitters right now range anywhere from 5-6 to 5-9 in height. That may not be what the roster reads, which lists J.C. Holt at 5-9. Anyone who has seen the sophomore out of Seiper, La. Knows he is closer to 5-5 or 5-6. But c'mon, who actually thought Herb Tyler was 6-0 tall when he played for the LSU football team?


Junior Aaron Hill, along Holt (who has added some brawn to his compact frame), is swinging some hot sticks right now - as are newcomers Matt Horwath and Bruce Sprowl. Both Horwath and Sprowl stand somewhere near 5-6 to 5-7, but both are ripping the cover off the ball.


One player, who is a bit bigger in stature that is making nice contact early on, is Blake Gill. A seldom-used first baseman/utility player last season seems to have matured over the off-season and should be featured in the lineup.


Canadian newcomer junior Ivan Naccarata has also displayed a power stroke Tiger fans will welcome with open arms.


As for a catcher to replace Chris Phillips, Laval will likely platoon the position, as the Tigers possess three capable players.


Freshman Matt Liuzza has shown an excellent arm as well as an adequate bat. Sophomore Dustin Weaver has swung a mighty bat in the preseason and Shawn French has looked good early. Even newcomer Ty Jensen hit the ball well Wednesday ripping a double off the right centerfield wall.


On the hill, redshirt freshman Jason Determan and true freshman newcomer Brandon "Alabama Heat" Nall were the stars of Tuesday's scrimmage. Justin Meier and Greg Smith threw Wednesday with Smith throwing as if in midseason form. The freshman from Alexandria may factor in as a definite midweek starter and a key weekend reliever.

While the hitting has come a long way, early indications point to pitching as the strength of this LSU team.

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