Last year, LSU sent out the equivalent of its B team and beat Southeastern Louisiana in a midweek game, 4-3. Seven pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts, and a four-run third inning held up. Well, now SLU gets LSU's best lineup and one of its aces. You want our full attention? Be careful what you wish for. There's a big difference between playing LSU in a random midweek game and playing LSU in front of a packed house on a Friday night.
Southeastern Louisiana Lions
2012 Record: 39-21 (20-13)
2012 Conference Standing: 2nd in the Southland
2012 RPI: 62
2012 ISR: 49
2012 RS/RA: 318/240
Robin Roberts (ESPN, ABC)
ummmm.... er.... yeah...
Did I mention Robin Roberts?
Pretentious music video:
Every other baseball program in Louisiana plays kid brother to LSU, so each is vying for that spot as Chief Rival. Tulane pretty much has that spot on lockdown, which means that essentially, SLU is a team that aspires to be Tulane, only without the academics. SLU has made some noise, and is currently sitting in the "Others Receiving Votes" part of the poll, and could get an honest to God ranking if they beat LSU this weekend. That means that they are trying to go all the way from kid brother to middle brother. So their song is indie rock supergroup Middle Brother's theme.
Hey, you gotta climb the first hill before the second one. It's actually a worthwhile goal. Of course, SLU already lost to Tulane this year. So they are still climbing that hill.
LHP Jordan Hymel 0-0, 5.40, 6/2 K/BB
Hymel couldn't quite hold an early 4-run lead last weekend against UT-Martin, though he ultimately lost the lead on an error, not a fault in his pitching. He posted a 2.65 ERA last year and was a Freshman All-American back in 2010. He's the team's senior ace and he is no pushover. Hymel's not quite the team's best player, we'll get to that, but he is the kind of pitcher who can steal a game. SLU ain't gonna waste their ace on BYU.
RF Harry Slade 600/588/667
SS Ben Hernandez 545/667/636
CF Corey Bryan 294/368/412
Slade hit 294/359/367 last year and is the team's leading returning hitter. Hernandez hit 280/380/311. Neither provides much power, but both make up for it in speed. They each had a huge weekend, but don't be scared by the slugging. It's all driven by batting average. SLU has 36 hits so far, and 29 of them are singles. Seems about right. They will try and on base you to death, but lack a big bopper, though Robertson did hit the team's only home run. What they will do is run. The Lions have already stolen 10 bases on 11 attempts. They will lay down the bunt, call for the hit and run, run like mad, and generally try and put the ball in play. They want to force the defense to make plays. They will give away outs, but the key is to take them.
PodKatt told me that I had to write a preview for the Lions game because they are the best team on our OOC schedule. I think that is damning them with faint praise, and says more about how lousy our schedule is. But SLU is a pretty good team who will throw their ace and is extremely motivated to win this game. This is their biggest regular season game, and will pull out all of the stops. I expect them to treat this game as the final game in Omaha. LSU, frankly, will not.
LSU's out of conference schedule is embarrassingly poor. Of course, LSU is probably not going to go undefeated until conference play, so if someone on this slate is going to pull the upset, it is most likely going to be SLU. Then again, "most likely" is still relative term. That just means in comparison to the likes of BYU.