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What Could Have Been

But wasn’t.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series Final-Florida vs LSU Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe I’m just a broken person. Maybe cynicism ruined me, but I spent most of Monday dreading what happened at 6:00.

I dreaded the Jac Caglianone-Thatcher Hurd matchup a little bit. I dreaded the lineup struggling to get timely hits. I dreaded Jordan Thompson’s hard slump. I dreaded Florida’s bats getting hot after Sunday and carrying over. I dreaded losing to Florida again. The standard stuff that dreading was objectively highly reasonable.

But most of all, I dreaded the thought that LSU would have one of the most insane lineups of all time including Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews, the top two picks in the draft, plus Tommy White and Tre Morgan, and still couldn't get it done. I dreaded the heartache that would cause. I dreaded the legacy of incredible program guys like Gavin Dugas and Cade Beloso drifting away with nothing to show. LSU wasn’t playing with house money, they were playing with all the weight of expectation in the sport bearing upon them. And I was worried that the legacy of “great program that can’t get it done” would linger.

It’s important that I keep talking about this in the first person because as it happens, it was wholly a me thing. This team had no dread in them.

The batters had no dread of facing Caglianone, as they were patient at the plate and chased him in the second. Thatcher Hurd had no dread in the task, as he got a quality start in the winner takes all match in the College World Series Final. The LSU lineup had no dread, as they put the pressure on early and often. Jordan Thompson had no dread, as he snapped out of his slump at the moment it was needed most, getting two RBI to help put the game away early. The LSU pitching staff had no dread of the hot Florida hitters, as they shut down Florida’s hitters the rest of the way.

Funny enough, it was Florida taking a 2-0 lead early that really removed a lot of my dread because that was a cursed score throughout the tournament. Baseball is a funny game like that.

But look, this isn’t about me. So I’ll just say this and shift the focus: I had a lot of valid reasons to dread the things I dreaded. It was this LSU team who stepped up and removed the doubt and brought home #7.

So, thank you.

Thank you to Dylan Crews for choosing LSU and being the straw that stirred the drink for three years.

Thank you to Paul Skenes for treating us to the single most dominant pitching season I’ve ever seen at any level of baseball.

Thank you to Tommy White for bringing the juice and the energy to the program.

Thank you to Tre Morgan for being a defensive wizard and model of consistency at the plate. Your play against Wake Forest will live on in history.

Thank you to Cade Beloso, who nearly gave up baseball this year, for not only bleeding purple and gold but providing the biggest moments of this postseason.

Thank you to Gavin Dugas, for being one of the best #8s ever, which is high praise unto itself but also one of the leaders of this now-famous team. Get some ice.

Thank you to Hayden Travinski for being a catalyst all year, and thank you to Alex Milazzo for filling in and filling in well when Travinski had a nagging injury down the stretch.

Thank you to Josh Pearson, Brayden Jobert, Jared Jones, Paxton Kling, and everyone else who contributed in getting here.

Thank you to Jordan Thompson, who played a vital role all year but yes struggled in Omaha, but didn’t give up and came up big when we needed him the most.

And speaking of...

Thank you to Ty Floyd, Thatcher Hurd, Riley Cooper, Gavin Guidry, Nate Ackenhausen, and Griffin Herring. In May, the pitching staff beyond Skenes was a liability. It was rough. Questions were rightly asked.

But instead of giving in to the results, these guys dug down and over the course of about a week went from liability to greatest strength. Everybody listed above played a huge part, but these guys made the difference. These pitchers were why won LSU a national championship. They did the impossible and turned the season around on a dime. LSU needed each of them in Omaha and each of them stepped up and held the rope with an iron grip that Skip would have been proud of.

When LSU started the season #1, I said I didn’t care. I really didn’t. I wanted to see the team be challenged over the course of the year and how they would respond before I would be happy. They were, more than I expected. And they responded stronger than I expected. Now they’re national champions.

I’m proud. I’ve never been prouder to be an LSU Tiger. And all I can say is thanks. Thanks for understanding us and our expectations, and feeding off it. Thanks for giving us something to root for and love. Thanks for proving us wrong when we doubted. Thanks for getting the 14-year-old monkey off our back. Thanks for avenging the 2017 team.

Thank you for giving us a reason to update the Intimidator.