Alex Lange hasn’t thrown a baseball in six weeks. He’s resting over the summer. And fishing.
“Caught a couple of 4 pound bass,” he said.
He reeled in another big fish Friday.
Lange, LSU’s All-American freshman ace, was named the winner of the James J. Corbett Award, given annually to the state’s amateur male and female athletes. Louisiana-Lafayette softball catcher Lexie Elkins was named the female recipient on Thursday.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri will accept the award for Lange in New Orleans on Aug. 8 while his star hurler relaxes 800 miles north in his home near Kansas City, Missouri.
“This award,” Lange said from his home, “it’s an awesome feeling.”
Lange joins a gaggle of LSU standouts to pull in the prestigious honor. He has just as good of a resume than all of them. As a freshman, he evolved into the Tigers’ No. 1 pitcher, throwing up gaudy numbers in leading the LSU to the College World Series.
He went 12-0 with a 1.97 ERA and had 131 strikeouts, pulling in multiple All-American honors. LSU went 14-3 in games he started.
“It’s been surreal to me. The whole freshmen year has been surreal,” Lange said. “You can’t really draw it up.”
He’s the 35th LSU athlete to receive an award that began in 1967. That group includes basketball stars Shaquille O’Neal, Pete Maravich, football greats Marcus Spears and Patrick Peterson and baseball standouts Aaron Nola and Brad Cresse.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette became the first high school player to win the award last year.
“I remember when Aaron Nola received the award,” Mainieri said. “When you think of the previous award winners, you have to do something special to be considered for an award like this. He’s deserving and honored and proud. For him not to be a native of Louisiana, makes it even more special. It’s kind of become his adopted home.”
Lange has spent much of the summer at his original home. He’s been fishing, hanging with friends and working out – not throwing. He’s on a non-throwing summer program that ends Saturday.
It hasn’t been easy avoiding those 94 mph fastballs and 83 mph curveballs that helped him have one of the best rookie seasons in LSU baseball history. Lange had just one day off of throwing during a fourth-month stretch during the season.
He wants to pitch again.
“Last time I threw was the day we played TCU (in the last game of the season),” Lange said. “It’s very weird. Takes some time to get used to. You start getting anxious. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to picking up a ball again.”
Lange will do that Saturday with a former pitching coach or friend catching for him. He’ll return to Baton Rouge in about two weeks to begin preparations for fall practice.
The Tigers begin practice Sept. 27. It’ll signify the first step in Lange’s journey to one of the most highly anticipated seasons for any LSU baseball player.
He stunned the nation in 2015, bursting onto the scene as a strikeout-throwing, 6-foot-3 Midwestern with what scouts term a “big league curveball.”
Why didn’t they see this in Lange as a high school senior? How did they not select this kid in the first or second round?
“Teams weren’t looking for what I had to offer,” Lange said. “That’s their right. I thank God every day I ended up going to school.”
Lange had a hefty asking price: about $1 million. He would have needed to be picked by early in the second round, according to assigned bonus values in the 2014 draft.
At least one scout texted with Lange during the third round. Discussions got somewhat deep. At the end of it, the team couldn’t meet his minimum bonus amount.
The rest? Well, it’s history that’s still being made.
“I told him,” Lange said, “‘I really appreciate the interest, but I’m going to school.’”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.