Peanut butter Insomnia cookies.
Those may be the most teenager thing about LSU freshman pitcher Alex Lange.
Oh, sure, you know him as the Tigers’ hard-throwing ace, the nation’s top-ranked rookie arm, a gritty, sometimes emotionless kid who’s posted staggering numbers in Year 1 in Baton Rouge.
Ah, but, “I’m still a kid,” Lange said Wednesday.
He’s a kid who drives to the cookie shop, Insomnia Cookies, near LSU’s North gate and orders a half-dozen of his favorite kind — peanut butter — at 1 a.m. He’s a college dude who fires off joking posts on social media picking at fellow pitcher Parker Bugg.
There’s other stuff, too, but his closest friends on the team, Doug Norman and Grayson Byrd, decline to reveal details.
“There’s definitely a lot of 18-year-old things that go on,” Norman said with a smile.
Not on the mound.
When LSU (51-10) meets the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (42-21) in a super regional opener Saturday night at Alex Box Stadium, Lange will walk onto the mound — yes, he’s starting Game 1 — as the top rookie in this freshman-heavy series.
The Cajuns’ three-man starting rotation goes freshman-freshman-freshman. And three of LSU’s top four pitchers in innings pitched are freshmen.
“There are talented young arms that are going to be on the mound this weekend,” LSU hitting coach Andy Cannizaro said.
None, though, boast the credentials of Lange, who was named the freshman pitcher of the year by Collegiate Baseball magazine Wednesday.
His gaudy numbers — 1.76 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 11-0 record — and his mature-oozing demeanor hide the fact that, yes, he’s still a freshman.
For one, he eats cookies in the wee hours of the morning.
“He’s a normal 19-year-old,” Byrd said.
His numbers are unlike any ole freshman, though. Lange is the first LSU freshman to strike out 100 batters in a single season. No LSU freshman had been 11-0 either.
And his 1.76 ERA? It’s nearly as low as the one Aaron Nola finished with as a junior last season.
Those aren’t freshman numbers.
“Lange surpassed anybody’s expectations,” coach Paul Mainieri said. “How could anybody honestly say they expected him to do the things he’s done this year as a true freshman?”
There were signs that something good was coming from Lange, Mainieri said. The coach said he has “inordinate maturity.”
“When I sat down and talked to Alex during the recruiting process, you felt like you were talking to a 40-year-old person,” Mainieri said.
Told Mainieri’s quote on Wednesday, Lange began to laugh. “I don’t think I look 40 yet,” he said.
Lange has been the brightest of all of Mainieri’s crew of freshman pitchers the Tigers staff reeled in last year. Lange’s the No. 1 first-year player on an LSU team that’s run on rookie arms.
Jake Latz, Mac Marshall, Norman, Austin Bain and Jake Godfrey made up the six hot-shot, highly recruited rookies in the 2014 signing class. So much was expected of them all.
Not everyone necessarily lived up to the lofty goals.
Marshall and Latz, for example, never threw a pitch. Marshall dropped out of school in September and joined a junior college so he can become eligible for the draft this year. Latz is still recovering from a stress reaction in his elbow that flared up during preseason practice.
Godfrey and Norman both slipped from their early season roles as starters. Godfrey began the season as LSU’s No. 3 starter, and Norman served as the Tigers’ No. 4 starter. They’re both bullpen guys — moves made about the midway point in the year.
Bain replaced Godfrey as the third starter before some recent woes have his status as a starter in question.
“Coming into the SEC and being a starting pitcher, it’s a pretty daunting task,” LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn said. “The opportunities that you get, you need to take hold of them and do the things that’s warranted to get another opportunity.
“I’ve been encouraged by some of the things they’ve done out of that bullpen,” he said of Norman and Godfrey. “A lot of times, that’s how you develop pitching.”
Despite some of their hiccups, those four freshmen have accounted for 25 of the Tigers’ 51 wins this season. Lange, of course, has nearly half of the total.
But he’s no freshman.
That’s right — he is.
“I’m a kid,” a smiling Lange said. “I’m still living the college life.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.