After beginning the 2013 season with a 16-1 record, No. 7 LSU will now travel to No. 13 Mississippi State to begin their SEC slate. The Bulldogs began 2013 as one of the hottest teams in the conference with a 17-0 record. However, they lost a series over the weekend to Central Arkansas, giving them their first two losses of the season. That simply equates to Mississippi State entering SEC play on somewhat of a down note. Regardless of the standings of both teams, coach Paul Mainieri is very excited about opening SEC play against an opponent with a lot of history against LSU.
“This is a great rivalry that was formed many years ago,” said Mainieri. “This will be a great atmosphere and it will bring out the best in our team.”
Tiger fans everywhere have seen the LSU freshmen step up in a big way in 2013, with Mark Laird and Alex Bregman leading the team in hitting with batting averages of .410 and .391, respectively.
While the freshmen have produced well so far this season, there are some questions about how they will respond to the environment that they will step into at Mississippi State. However, Mainieri has no doubts that they will be focused and ready to go this weekend regardless of the atmosphere.
“I’m not anxious because I know how they are going to react,” said Mainieri. “They will handle it just fine because they have handled everything we have thrown at them so far. I don’t think they will be intimidated.”
Mississippi State will provide the LSU pitching staff with one of their first real tests of the season. The Bulldogs feature three players that are hitting over .400 to start 2013. Hunter Renfroe leads the team with a .436 average and five homeruns. He is followed by Alex Detz and Adam Frazier with averages of .418 and .403, respectively.
The Mississippi State pitching staff is also back to full strength for the weekend, after Friday starter Jacob Lindgren was injured when he was hit by a line drive last week. Lindgren leads the staff with a 2-0 record to go along with a 0.96 ERA from the left side. The other two starters, Evan Mitchell and Kendall Graveman, also claim ERA’s of under 3.00. Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend.
LSU – So. RHP Aaron Nola (2-0, 2.77 ERA, 26.0 IP, 32 SO)
MSU – So. LHP Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 0.96 ERA, 18.2 IP, 22 SO)
LSU – Jr. RHP Ryan Eades (3-0, 1.80 ERA, 25.0 IP, 28 SO)
MSU – Jr. RHP Evan Mitchell (0-0, 2.30 ERA, 15.2 IP, 19 SO)
LSU – So. LHP Cody Glenn (3-0, 0.73 ERA, 24.2 IP, 14 SO)
MSU – Sr. RHP Kendall Graveman (1-1, 2.61 ERA, 20.2 IP, 16 SO)
LSU should get a real test from the pitching staff of Mississippi State this weekend, and it should be a very good indication of it the Tigers can maintain the offensive success that they have enjoyed in recent weeks.
Mainieri explained that his team understands how important this weekend is to their success in the conference.
“We have to get the job done in the conference and that all starts this weekend,” said Mainieri. “If we have success this weekend, then every weekend becomes more important than the one before.”
LSU will begin the series on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Glenn ready for SEC play
Following 4 quality starts, sophomore Cody Glenn will get his first taste of the SEC as a starter this weekend. While it will be a new atmosphere, and perhaps one of the toughest he will face all season, Mainieri explained that it should be interesting to see how Glenn reacts to a hostile environment.
“That’ll be interesting to see this weekend with it being hostile there,” said Mainieri. “Cody is probably the big surprise early in the season for us. We came into this season with questions about who the third starter will be. Cody has had four quality starts and he earned his role.”
Glenn admitted that it would be a different atmosphere than he has ever pitched in before, but he is ready for the challenge.
“I’ve pitched against rivals, but I haven’t pitched against a team that will have that many people in the stands,” said Glenn. “I’m ready for the opportunity to go into an environment like that and play a team like Mississippi State.”
If Glenn maintains his approach that he has had so far in 2013, Mainieri expects him to be successful this weekend.
“There isn’t a whole lot of margin for error for Cody,” said Mainieri. “If he keeps the ball down and throws strikes, he should be successful. We have to play defense behind him.”
Glenn echoed the statements of Mainieri.
“I don’t know too much, but I just have to do what I can do,” said Glenn. I have to keep the ball low, throw strikes, and let my defense work for me.”