Quantcast

Young stars make LSU a threat to win CWS - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Young stars make LSU a threat to win CWS

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Alex Bregman had already made up his mind to turn down the Boston Red Sox and instead enroll at LSU as he watched upstart Stony Brook celebrate a College World Series berth following their upset of the Tigers in Baton Rouge last year.

The next day, Bregman logged on to the social media site Twitter and guaranteed the Tigers would get to Omaha in 2013, when he would be their new shortstop.

"I knew I would be able to make a difference and expected I could do even more than I've done so far," said Bregman, recently named the national freshman hitter of the year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and All-America by Baseball America. "I'm just happy we're in Omaha and that's the main reason I came to school. I just wanted to win a national championship."

Thanks to a foundation of youth that includes players like Bregman, freshman outfielder Mark Laird and the sophomore ace of the pitching staff, Aaron Nola, LSU (57-9) will be among the favorites in Omaha after tying a school record for wins. The Tigers open play on Sunday against UCLA, and the so-far unbeatable Nola (12-0), will be on the mound.

Mason Katz is among the four-year seniors who would have comprised the first class since 1982 not to make at least one trip to Omaha during their LSU careers had the Tigers not made it this year. Katz is quick to give credit to rise of younger players.

"Those were pieces we were missing from last year," Katz said.

Nola was 7-4 as a freshman. This season, he has been arguably the best pitcher in college baseball, not losing a game in the formidable Southeastern Conference, then going 2-0 so far in the NCAA tournament.

While Nola's fastball can reach the low- to mid-90s, he does not have to try to overpower hitters because he is seemingly able to put his fastball, breaking ball and off-speed pitches wherever he wants.

But what also impresses Nola's coaches and teammates is the hurler's unshakable confidence and mental toughness.

For coach Paul Mainieri, one of Nola's defining moments came in the NCAA regional round, when three errors committed behind him allowed Sam Houston a five-run first inning. Nola responded with six shutout innings as LSU roared back.

In the super regional, Nola went head-to-head against Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray, the third overall pick in the draft. He pitched a two-hit shutout in a 2-0 win - and Katz will never forget a brief conversation he had with Nola in the tunnel behind the dugout around the sixth inning.

"I went down there and said, 'Hey, we're going to get a run.' And he goes, 'Well, if you score one, we win,'" Katz recalled. "That's who Aaron is. He always keeps us in the game."

The way the double-elimination College World Series is set up, LSU could pitch Nola as many as three times, and Nola said he embraces the chance to take as much responsibility for LSU's success as the team gives him.

"I feel good about it. We're playing for everything," Nola said. "You're supposed to have that mentality that, 'I'm the best.' ... Every time I go on the mound, that's how I think."

Mainieri describes Bregman as player who combines supreme talent with an unsurpassed work ethic - the kind of player he finds in the batting cage, alone, at 8 a.m. on a fall Sunday, or persuading a team manager to hit him grounders when everyone else has left the stadium, and the lights are off, forcing him to field the ball in darkness.

"You can't fake that," Mainieiri said. "He just loves it that much. ... He's going to get every accolade you can get in your time here and you can't do that without talent, but unfortunately some kids that have a lot of talent don't have that kind of work ethic."

Bregman has hit .380 this season with six home runs, 18 doubles, seven triples and 52 runs batted in. His 104 hits are an LSU freshman record. He has stolen 16 bases on 17 attempts.

He might not have come to LSU if not for a broken finger that sidelined him his senior year of high school. Bregman arrived at LSU expecting to be a difference-maker, and endeared himself to teammates by putting them first. Katz recalled standing nearby, last fall, when Bregman was asked about his goals.

"He said, 'Get the seniors to Omaha,'" Katz recalled. "To have a freshman come in and not care about personal statistics or anything - just to help us go to Omaha and win a national championship - that's a guy you want to play with."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • College FootballMore>>

  • SEC dominating AP poll again

    SEC dominating AP poll again

    Sunday, September 14 2014 4:30 PM EDT2014-09-14 20:30:45 GMT
    Sunday, September 14 2014 4:30 PM EDT2014-09-14 20:30:54 GMT
    By JOHN MARSHALL AP College Football Writer Breaking down the ballots for the AP Top 25 and wrapping up college football's third weekend.
    By JOHN MARSHALL AP College Football Writer Breaking down the ballots for the AP Top 25 and wrapping up college football's third weekend.
  • SEC with 5 teams in top 10 of AP poll

    SEC with 5 teams in top 10 of AP poll

    By JOHN MARSHALL AP College Football Writer South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern...
    By JOHN MARSHALL AP College Football Writer South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern Conference...
  • Boston College runs over No. 9 USC 37-31

    Boston College runs over No. 9 USC 37-31

    Sunday, September 14 2014 12:59 AM EDT2014-09-14 04:59:46 GMT
    Sunday, September 14 2014 1:42 AM EDT2014-09-14 05:42:54 GMT
    Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy rushed for 190 yards, breaking free for a 66-yard touchdown with 3:30 to play on Saturday night as Boston College beat No. 9 Southern California 37-31 - the Eagles' first...
    Fans wearing red bandannas stormed the field in a raucous celebration of Boston College's first victory over a top 10 team in a decade.
AUG 30 8:00pm CDT Wisconsin
SEP 6 6:30pm CDT Sam Houston
SEP 13 TBD UL Monroe
SEP 20 TBA Mississippi St.
SEP 27 TBA New Mexico St.
OCT 4 TBA at Auburn
OCT 11 TBA at Florida
OCT 18 TBA Kentucky
OCT 25 TBA Ole Miss
NOV 8 TBA Alabama
NOV 15 TBA at Arkansas
NOV 27 TBA at Texas A&M
  • SportsMore>>

  • Tech offense hitting stride

    Tech offense hitting stride

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:56:45 GMT
    Louisiana Tech has averaged 45 points in back to back road wins. 
    Louisiana Tech has averaged 45 points in back to back road wins. 
  • Hand off; reports say Ingram has broken hand

    Hand off; reports say Ingram has broken hand

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:47:22 GMT
    A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
    A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
  • Cris Carter's emotional response to Adrian Peterson's arrest

    Cris Carter's emotional response to Adrian Peterson's arrest

    Monday, September 15 2014 4:54 PM EDT2014-09-15 20:54:02 GMT
    Cris Carter of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown tells it like he sees it.Cris Carter of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown tells it like he sees it.
    Cris Carter believes there is no place in the home for corporal punishment and no place for abusers on an NFL field.In an emotional, personal monologue delivered on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver took a stand against child abuse in response to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson being indicted in a child injury case.
    Cris Carter believes there is no place in the home for corporal punishment and no place for abusers on an NFL field.In an emotional, personal monologue delivered on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown," the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver took a stand against child abuse in response to Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson being indicted in a child injury case.
Powered by WorldNow
    Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KTBS. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
    Advertising | EEO Public File | KTBS 3 Public File | KPXJ 21 Public File