Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
The LSU Tigers failed to reach the SEC Conference and NCAA Tournaments in 2011. The 2009 National Champs and Head Coach Paul Mainieri will look to rebound after an atypical season for the LSU program. The Tigers ended 2011 headed in the right direction, winning 12 of their last 15 games. Coach Mainieri returns 21 lettermen, including seven of his top nine hitters and two starting pitchers from a year ago. Fourteen newcomers join the Tigers, 10 freshmen, five who were drafted last June and four junior college transfers.
2011: 36-20, 13-17
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Paul Mainieri, 6th Season
Junior Raph Rhymes led the Tigers with 77 hits and was second with a .360 average. The DH was picked by the Blue Jays in the 40th round of the 2011 draft. Rhymes hit 18 doubles and scored 43 times. Sophomore JaCoby Jones was a 2011 Freshman All-American. The second baseman hit .338 and stole 12 bases. Junior Mason Katz provides flexibility, playing infield and outfield. In 2011 he hit .337 and was perfect on defense in 172 chances. Senior shortstop Austin Nola and senior infielder Tyler Hanover are three-year starters that will provide veteran leadership. Both were selected in the 2011 MLB draft and were part of the 2009 National Championship team. Nola hit .296 and Hanover hit .311.
Coach Mainieri returns three experienced and decorated sophomores to anchor the rotation. Freshman All-American Kurt McCune went 7-3 in 2011 with 3.31 ERA and 68 strikeouts. Kevin Gausman made 14 starts, was 5-6, fanning 86 in 89.2 innings. Gausman spent the summer playing for the USA Collegiate National Team. Ryan Eades appeared in 18 games last spring, six of those were starts. He was 4-1 with 31 strikeouts and was voted the Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year last summer. Junior right-handers, Kevin Berry and Joey Bourgeois, Junior lefty Chris Cotton and sophomore right-handers Joe Broussard, Nick Rumbelow and Michael Reed round out the returning pitching staff.
Who to Watch:
The newcomers to the LSU squad will have a chance to make an immediate impact. Junior College transfer Casey Yocom plays infield. The two time first-team All-Golden Valley Conference and 2010 Defensive MVP provides some depth up the middle. He hit .354 at Feather River College. Freshman catcher and infielder Tyler Moore earned All-State honors and hit .561 with 15 home runs his senior season at Dunham High
Freshman pitchers Cody Glenn, Brent Bonvillain, Aaron Nola and Nick Goody will add depth on the mound. Left hander Glenn and righties Nola and Goody were 2011 MLB draftees.
LSU is sure to bounce back in 2012. A veteran squad with depth should help return the Tigers to their pre-2011 form. A large group of lettermen, including two-thirds of last year’s pitching staff, put LSU in position to finish near the top of the conference. The expansion of the SEC Conference Tournament from eight to ten teams should all but assure LSU an opportunity to play for the conference post season title. Look for the Tigers in the field of 64.
Projected Postseason: NCAA
At Bats: Raph Rhymes, OF, 214
Hits: Raph Rhymes, OF, 77
Home Runs: JaCoby Jones, 2B, 4; Mason Katz, OF, 4
RBIs: Mason Katz, OF, 53
Runs: Raph Rhymes, OF, 43
Stolen Bases: JaCoby Jones, 2B, 12
Wins: Kurt McCune, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Kurt McCune, P, 89.2; Kevin Gausman, P, 89.2
Strikeouts: Kevin Gausman, P, 86
Saves: Kevin Berry, P, 2
Madness 2012 MLB Draft Rankings:
#6 Kevin Gausman