LSU freshman right-hander Doug Norman has had more than a week to take it all in.
He sat and watched as opening weekend flew past. He saw as the Tigers sent two rookies to the mound against Kansas, helping LSU to sweep the Jayhawks in Alex Box Stadium.
Norman has just been waiting his turn.
“It’s felt like a year,” Norman said. “I’m glad it’s finally come around.”
After LSU coach Paul Mainieri officially announced his opening weekend rotation — Jared Poche’, Alex Lange and Jake Godfrey — Norman was told that he would get the first midweek outing of the 2015 season. Nicholls State will make the trip to Baton Rouge on Wednesday after taking two of three contests against Stony Brook.
Wednesday evening won’t have the most ideal weather conditions for a rookie making his collegiate debut. The temperature in Baton Rouge is expected to hover in the upper-40s with a slight wind at first pitch.
It’s nothing Norman hasn’t felt before, though.
Stemming from Fort Mill, South Carolina, Norman felt his share of winter conditions. He played baseball roughly 20 minutes north in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Ardrey Kell High School, where he was both a 2014 Louisville Slugger and Rawlings First-Team All-American.
He said the cold wouldn’t be an issue against Nicholls State.
“It’s no problem,” Norman said. “Just run a little extra and get a little extra sweaty. I’ll be alright.”
Norman is one of three LSU freshman starters who stands tall at 6-foot-3, and he brings four pitches to the mound: a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a changeup and a slider. The rookie’s heater has ranged from 88-91 mph in scrimmages this spring.
But more so than his physical attributes, Mainieri said one trait makes the right-hander stand out.
“He’s a very, very confident guy,” Mainieri said. “When he’s on that mound, he really believes he’s going to win. And he’s won. His whole career, he’s been a winner. When a player has a lot of self-confidence, then you as a coach generally has a lot of confidence in him. That’s why he’s getting the ball.”
The plan for Norman on Wednesday is simple: try to go five innings.
Freshman right-hander Alex Lange was able to do so in his first career start on Saturday, tossing five scoreless innings of two-hit baseball. Rookie Jake Godfrey was unable to do so, going 32?3 innings and allowing three runs (one earned) with a poor defensive performance behind him.
Norman watched his rookie teammates, learning a little more about the Alex Box atmosphere with each pitch.
The most fans he’s ever pitched in front of was just over 2,000 people during a rivalry game at Ardrey Kell. He could have more than double that number staring down at him on Wednesday.
It will be a moment to remember, Norman said, but he intends to mentally lock in almost immediately.
“The first moment I step on the mound, I’m going to look around and say, ‘Wow, this is awesome,’” Norman said. “But that’s only for a few seconds because I know that I have to get in the zone and not worry about what’s going on around me. I’ll be worried about who is at the plate and who to get out next.”
The freshman isn’t concerned about battling against his teammates for a possible spot in the weekend rotation. He’s not worried about following the performances of the two rookies on Saturday and Sunday.
When he takes the mound against the Colonels, he’s just looking to be No. 21.
“My mentality is, ‘I’m Doug Norman, and I’m just going to go out there and do what I do,’” Norman said.
“I’m going to do my own thing.”