Trey Dawson doesn’t let himself think about the expectations.
The freshman infielder is a serious contender to replace All-American shortstop and MLB first-round draft pick Alex Bregman.
A highly decorated high school prospect himself, Dawson seems poised to continue the legacy of elite shortstop play at LSU. But he’s just here to play ball.
“Nobody can replace Alex Bregman. Nobody can replace all the past shortstops that have been here,” Dawson said. “Those guys are who they are for a reason. I’ve just got to be myself, work hard every day and the outcome will come.”
Dawson and junior Cole Freeman have emerged as leaders on the left side of the infield midway through fall practice. Coach Paul Mainieri said freshman O’Neal Lochridge is in the mix with them, but he made clear he’s far from naming starters at any position.
In fact, Mainieri is still experimenting with the infield. Freeman moved from third base to spend all last week at shortstop, and the results were much to the coach’s liking.
“We have two strong options at shortstop between Dawson and Freeman,” Mainieri said. “But I also feel like there’s a good chance both of those guys are gonna be in the lineup in some combination.”
Dawson said he’s comfortable at shortstop, where he started for four years at Hurricane High School in Hurricane, West Virginia. He led the school to a state championship as a junior and committed only one error during his First Team All-State senior campaign.
Freeman, though, isn’t exactly at home on the hot corner.
A natural middle infielder throughout his career, Freeman said he’s “growing into” his role at third base. He still boasts an impressive résumé as a 2015 NJCAA All-American and Gold Glove recipient at second base for Delgado Community College in New Orleans.
“I don’t want to say I’m comfortable yet. I’m getting a lot more used to it, without a doubt,” Freeman said. “On certain plays right, different arm angles, I’m not there yet. But I think with a couple more weeks, I’m definitely gonna get more comfortable.”
The junior has adjustments to make off the practice field, too. Freeman is one of three Delgado transfers who joined LSU’s 2015 recruiting class.
“School is a lot different, and the practices are a lot longer and more in-depth,” he said. “Where I came from, we didn’t really have workouts, so you have to get used to workouts and being sore coming out here.”
Dawson, on the other hand, credited his teammates for making his transition from high school baseball to the college ranks an easy one. Playing in Alex Box Stadium might leave most freshmen wide-eyed, but he said it’s “just another field.”
The shortstop is shrugging off the hype surrounding him specifically, but he knows playing for the Tigers comes with its own set of high expectations.
“Being able to work hard on the field every day, you don’t really pay attention to the big hype this school has,” Dawson said. “But you’ve gotta know it’s there because you’ve gotta be ready for it.”
After bursting onto the scene as the 2015 Freshman Pitcher of the Year, Alex Lange isn’t done working. LSU’s sophomore ace said he’s focused on improving command of his fastball and getting ahead early in the count.
Last year, Lange went 12-0 and notched 131 strikeouts to go along with a 1.97 ERA.
“Being more consistent getting ahead of hitters, then throwing the breaking ball for strikes early in the count to keep those hitters honest,” Lange said. “If we can soften them up early in the count with a breaking ball or changeup, then they’re gonna have to respect it late in the count as well.”