LSU first baseman Nick Coomes’ availability for this weekend’s super regional is still questionable, coach Paul Mainieri indicated.
Coomes suffered a thumb sprain as he slid back into first base during LSU’s regional-opening win against Texas Southern last Friday. He did not play in LSU’s final two games of the regional and was replaced by freshman Jake Slaughter.
Mainieri said Coomes, batting .296 with 24 RBIs and two home runs, would not practice Tuesday and would be re-evaluated Wednesday.
The Baton Rouge super regional begins at 8 p.m. Saturday against Mississippi State at Alex Box Stadium.
Due to Coomes’ injury, freshman center fielder Zach Watson, who homered twice against Texas Southern, filled in as the No. 5 hitter in the final two games of the regional. Watson homered two more times against the Lions.
With Watson moving up in the order, Slaughter served as the No. 9 hitter over the last two games and went 2 for 7 with an RBI. Slaughter, who owns a .258 average with 22 RBIs and two home runs, also reached base in the regional final when he was hit by a pitch.
Slaughter, a freshman, began the season as the starting first baseman, but as he began to scuffle at the plate in conference play, Coomes replaced him April 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette. Before the Southeastern Louisiana game last weekend, Slaughter had started only one other game since Coomes took over first base.
Mainieri, though, said he has been impressed with how Slaughter handled losing the job midway through the season. The coach emphasized patience with the freshman and was pleased to see Slaughter take advantage of his chance.
“He’s continued to come to the field every day and work extremely hard," Mainieri said. "He knows his time will come again. If not this year, next year. We’re going to be counting on him to be playing shortstop or third base or second base.”
Dunn lends a hand
Among the five names Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne mentioned when he introduced Brad Bohannon as the Crimson Tide’s new baseball coach was LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn, a former Alabama pitcher.
But Byrne didn’t bring up Dunn’s name as a person he considered for the head coaching job. Rather, it was for Dunn’s advice, which Byrne called “wonderful.”
Asked about his conversation with Byrne on Monday, Dunn didn’t get specific, but he indicated the discussions involved the overall direction of the program. And it was “flattering” to be contacted, Dunn said.
“We didn’t talk really about specific people, per se, of who’s the right fit — or not one particular person,” Dunn said. “I think the idea that Greg had was that he was going to do a very thorough search of coaches that were presently assistants, some head coaches, and I think he was just trying to figure out that right fit.
“All you can do is just give an opinion of what you see on the surface and then listening to other people talk about it. I wouldn’t say I had really any specific things that I was able to say that was going to be helpful or not. We just had some conversation, and I enjoyed talking to Greg in our conversation.”
Dunn said he doesn’t know Bohannon very well but respects what he’s been able to accomplish over his career as an assistant, which includes stops at Wake Forest and Kentucky. Dunn also said he’s “extremely happy at LSU” and looks forward to seeing Alabama’s growth under Bohannon.
“It looks like they’ve hired a very solid guy,” Dunn said. “His reputation speaks for itself. I think they’re extremely happy with the hire that they made.”
SEC presence in CWS
With LSU playing Mississippi State in the Baton Rouge super regional this weekend, the Southeastern Conference is guaranteed to have one representative in the College World Series for the 25th consecutive year.
Six SEC clubs are in this year’s super regionals, which tied for most amount of teams from one conference in a super regional. The SEC originally set the mark in 2004.
Since 1993, when the Tigers claimed their second national championship, eight SEC teams have won the national title, including five times by LSU. South Carolina won the crown in 2010 and 2011, and Vanderbilt won in 2014.
Seven SEC teams have finished national runners-up in that 25-year span, including the Mississippi State in 2013.