LSU coach Paul Mainieri started this season with a checklist of goals, and another one fell by the wayside Monday.
After the Tigers clinched Southeastern Conference division, overall and tournament titles, they were named one of eight national seeds in the NCAA tournament. It marked the sixth consecutive year LSU earned such a distinction, tying Stanford’s record.
“I wanted to see us tie that record and be a national seed,” Mainieri said. “I know it didn’t look promising there for a long time this year, but it’s not a matter of what it looks like five or six weeks before the end of the year, it’s what does it look like at the end of the year?
“One thing we’ve learned about being a national seed is your chances of advancing to Omaha are greater, but there’s no guarantee you’re going to utilize it to get to Omaha.”
First, LSU has to get through its regional tournament, which starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Texas Southern. Southeastern Louisiana and Rice round out the tournament field, and are scheduled to play at 7 p.m. Friday.
It’s almost the exact same field as the 2016 Baton Rouge regional, with Texas Southern replacing Utah Valley as the No. 4 seed.
“Same teams, but I'm sure we're a different team, and they're a different team,” senior shortstop Kramer Robertson said. “Again, we don't want to look ahead of anybody. We have to play Texas Southern. That's who we're focused on right now.”
Opposite LSU in the NCAA bracket is the Hattiesburg regional, where top seed Southern Miss hosts Mississippi State, South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago.
To advance to its fifth College World Series under Mainieri, LSU needs to emerge from its own regional tournament this weekend, then beat the winner of the Hattiesburg regional next weekend in Baton Rouge.
That potentially sets up a rematch between LSU and Mississippi State, who battled on the final weekend of the regular season for the SEC Western Division title. The Bulldogs are coached by former LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizzaro.
“If it happens, it happens,” Mainieri said. “I don’t root for anybody in the other tournament. … You wait and see what happens and then you deal with it.”
HOOVER, Ala. — After LSU clinched a spot in the Southeastern Conference tournament champions…
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LSU went into Monday’s selection show with a much different mentality than it did last season, when it was one of several teams with a legitimate shot at the No. 8 national seed and had to sweat out the actual reveal.
Like last season, LSU took care of business down the stretch to put itself in this position. The Tigers enter the NCAA tournament as winners of 11 straight and 16 of their past 18.
This time though, their résumé clearly indicated the only question would be how high their seed would be.
As it turns out, LSU found out about a half hour before the selection show that it landed somewhere in the top four.
When LSU was finally revealed as the No. 4 seed, the reaction in the room was less celebratory than a year before, the suspense all taken away when Florida was announced as the No. 3 seed.
“It was nice to not come in here stressed about it, kind of wondering if you even have a national seed,” Robertson said. “Doing what we did at the end of the year to earn that, we knew we were going to get one. Just which one and who we would be playing, which was a good feeling — there was no pressure on us today. So it was a relaxing and fun environment today.”
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For the sixth straight season, LSU’s path to Omaha will go through Baton Rouge. Mainieri is proud of the fact his teams have only played NCAA tournament games at two venues since 2012 — Alex Box Stadium and T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha, the site of the College World Series.
But he also knows home field advantage is only advantageous if you take care of business. He told the team as much in a meeting before its path to college baseball’s promised land was illuminated.
“One thing I did tell them: You’ve got to win five to get to Omaha,” Mainieri said. “If we’re fortunate enough to win three this weekend, we’re only three-fifths of the way there. So we’re not going to have any dog piles after a win if we’re fortunate enough to win this regional.
“You’ve got to finish the job, and that’s hard to do.”
Season-ticket holders should log on to their accounts at www.LSUtix.net. The ticket office is open during normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
All-session ticket books go on sale to the public at 8 a.m. Thursday. Tickets will be available at www.LSUTIX.net or by calling (225) 578-2184. Individual session tickets go on sale at 8 a.m. Friday.
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