1. Baseball is not a sprint ... until it matters
Florida, at various points this season, was 0-3 and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play. LSU had its share of difficulties, too, checking in at 6-6 and 10-8. Both teams were picked to win their divisions, and for a while, it looked like they'd both fall short. Well, Florida went 15-3 in its final six SEC weekends to clinch the SEC East and the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. LSU won 10 of 11 in league play to clinch the SEC West on Friday and earn the No. 2 seed in next week’s tournament. The point is, it’s never a good idea to count a team out in March or April — especially teams as talented as LSU and Florida. Both figured it out, and both have put themselves in position to beat everyone else to the finish line.
2. Alex the Great
How about Alex Lange? The LSU ace struck out 11 Bulldogs in seven magnificent innings Thursday, continuing a quietly remarkable run. Lange is probably in the midst of his best baseball since his other-worldly freshman season. Consider this: Since he was knocked around by Georgia in the SEC opener, Lange has posted a 1.92 ERA while striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings. In that same span, he has thrown three complete games, racked up double-digit strikeouts three times and has not allowed more than three earned runs. He ended the regular season as the SEC’s strikeout king with 111 in 90.1 innings. LSU owes a big chunk of its late-season surge to Lange setting the tone in series openers.
3. Micah Gibbs: Actually good
LSU hitting coach Micah Gibbs has been the target of plenty of ire from the fan base this season, but maybe it’s time to recognize a job well done. LSU finished as the Southeastern Conference’s No. 2 hitting team, the No. 3 scoring team, and as the toughest team in the league to strike out. A common complaint (beside the fact that Gibbs' name is not Andy Cannizaro) was that LSU couldn’t hit in clutch situations. That complaint was unfounded. The Tigers entered the regular-season finale hitting better with runners in scoring position (.293) than without runners in scoring position (.288). Yes, Gibbs is inexperienced, and yes, LSU went through a slump or two this year, but the Tigers' overall offensive numbers reflect well on Gibbs’ ability.