The 2016 LSU baseball season is around the corner, but some big names from the 2015 season will be missing, such as Alex Bregman, Kade Scivicque, Andrew Stevenson and Mark Laird.
However, the players and coaches at LSU baseball's Media Day Friday made it clear that the expectations for the program remain the same.
"Do you think our fans or the people that support LSU baseball want to hear about a rebuilding year? C'mon. That doesn't exist at LSU," said head coach Paul Mainieri
RAW interviews with LSU Baseball players and coaches:
Head coach Paul Mainieri
Pitching coach Alan Dunn
Senior Jake Fraley
Junior Jared Poche
Sophomore Alex Lange
Junior Kramer Robertson
Sophomore Michael Papierski
Sophomore Greg Deichmann
The Tigers have assembled a new squad they hope will still be playing baseball in late June.
"Program sales are definitely gonna go up this year. Just trying to learn the names. Might have to play the name game maybe the first game or two to figure everybody out," joked sophomore pitcher Alex Lange.
"The unique thing about playing baseball at LSU, coaching at LSU, being a part of LSU is you're under the spotlight here and if you're afraid of it, you came to the wrong place," said Mainieri.
Despite all the stars that are now gone, LSU has a great one-two combination on the mound to lean on with Lange and crafty lefty Jared Poche.
"I think that Poche and I are ready," said Lange.
"I guess they're gonna look at us to get us off to a good start," said Poche.
Lange is back after an incredible freshman season. Lang was 12-0 with an era of less two last year.
"To me, there are several things that I had to get better at, starting with fastball command," said Lange. "Fastball command has to be better to pitch efficiently in this league. The walks were too high last year. Obviously that's always a problem you run into when you start walking a lot of people."
"To have that mental focus of knowing that 'Hey I got get a little better command of this. I gotta make a little better pitch here in this situation.' That's huge," said LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn.
Poche enters his junior campaign after posting an 18-5 mark during his first two seasons.
"At the end of the fall, he was throwing 91 to 93 mph. So if he can maintain, and I don't know if he can, but if he can, that will make him a lot better," said Mainieri. "Alan Dunn has work with him on cutting his fastball. It gives it a little bit of like slider action."
"It helps hitters to not be able to sit on certain pitches," said Dunn.
"You know each time I come out it gets better and better," said Poche.
In the field, the familiar faces are few as outfielder Jake Fraley is now an upperclassmen.
"It's been a blessing to see these guys grow and learn as they have, and I'm excited and we're all excited about the opportunity of what we have in front of us," said Fraley.
Junior second baseman Kramer Robertson looks to prove he can be counted on game after game.
"Lightbulb went off in my head and I realized what it takes. I think coach and I have really bonded this year and kind of figured out what makes each other tick," said Robertson. "It's work out really well so far, and I think gonna be a great year for myself and for the team."
Sophomore Greg Deichmann is working at first base, and outfielder Antoine Duplantis is drawing rave reviews as a true freshman.
"Now I realize I'm giving this kid a lot of pump up here and he hasn't ever gotten a college baseball hit yet right, but I did the same with a kid name Bregman when he was going into his freshman year and it turned out alright," said Mainieri.
The Tigers start off their season with a season opener against Cincinnati at Alex Box Stadium on Friday, February 19 at 7 p.m.
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