I played football for a bad high school team.
I’ll spare you the glory days sob story on how we should have been better and say that we went 2-8 my senior year. I’m at peace with it like any well-adjusted 30-year-old should be, but there are some things that I look back on with the additional context of not being a clueless 18-year-old, and this is one of them.
Before each game on Thursday when we completed our walkthroughs, our coaches would keep saying this one phrase over and over, “the hay is in the barn” (yes, I am from Livingston Parish, why do you ask). At the time as a naive teenager ready to roll heads, I took it to be their way of saying “We’re ready for tomorrow, whatever comes we’re prepared for it”.
Reader we were not prepared for it, as we went 2-8. As an adult, I now realize that “the hay is in the barn” was their way of nicely saying “we got what we got and we’ll have to make do with that, it’s too late to make wholesale changes.”
Anyway, it’s the Thursday before LSU opens its regional, and the hay is the barn. Whatever context you wish to apply to that phrase is wholly up to you, because at the moment I don’t know which is more fitting.
Let’s start with the positive: LSU had an encouraging starting pitching showing in Hoover. Even with Paul Skenes having a relatively disappointing day shortened by a tight pitch count, Tiger starters threw 14 innings where they allowed just six earned runs on 11 hits and six walks while striking out 14. That’s not going to blow anybody away, but it is a marked improvement from where we were at before Hoover from a pitching perspective. Against three tournament teams, one of which is a favorite to win the whole thing, LSU had consistent starting pitching beyond Skenes, which is what we’ve been waiting all year for.
And to be honest, LSU had a really great pitching weekend beyond the starters, with one lone exception. Excluding Sammy Dutton and Griffin Herrings’ very forgettable outings Riley Cooper, Nate Ackenhausen, Javen Coleman, and Gavin Guidry gave the Tigers 9.2 innings of scoreless relief where they only allowed five hits and four walks while striking out 16. You probably want more than four trustworthy arms from the bullpen, but you’ll absolutely take that output against tournament teams.
Pair that with future big leaguers Dylan Crews, Tre’ Morgan, and big bats like Tommy White and Gavin Dugas, we’ve got a stew going.
But there’s always a “but”. LSU went 1-2 in Hoover and while a lot of it is due to Dutton and Herrings’ outings and an ill-timed catcher’s interference call, the LSU offense didn’t quite live up to its billing in their losses.
The stat that has haunted my dreams was LSU going 3-20 with runners in scoring position against Texas A&M, which is wholly unacceptable. The Arkansas game wasn’t much better, with the Tigers going 2-9 with runners in position. This is a super inopportune time for the LSU offense to dry up and hopefully this weekend the Tigers are able to get them in more or it can get rough.
Overall, I’m feeling a lot better about this regional than I was two weeks ago, but I still have nerves. I don’t understand how you can not have them. But I think LSU is geared well to get out of this weekend and host a super regional at the Box again, especially given the improvement in the pitching staff and sheer talent we have one through nine in the lineup.
We have what we have, we’re ready for anything.