Austin Bain walks up to some random task, becomes highly proficient at it right away, and the refrain fires up from those around him: Of course he is good at that.
It's kind of what Bain is known for on the LSU baseball team. Name the random human talent, Bain probably has it. Golf, pingpong and video games rank among the things at which he is supposedly quite accomplished.
“Pretty much anything he can’t make money on, he’s good at,” pitcher Caleb Gilbert said.
One recurring theme among his teammates: Bain is weirdly good at Frisbee. Like, the type of good that stands out among a group of fellow athletes when they start messing around with a Frisbee together.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Bryce Jordan said. “For conditioning in the fall, we play ultimate Frisbee in the indoor (practice facility), and he throws the hell out of it.”
All this is to say that Bain’s teammates were not surprised when Bain, a pitcher for his first three seasons with the LSU baseball program, found immediate success when pushed into duty as a regular hitter in the Tigers’ lineup this season.
Of course he is good at that, they say. Of course he would be hitting .300 through the season’s first three weeks with a team-high six doubles. Of course his first career home run banged off the camera well in the deepest part of Alex Box Stadium.
“He picks up on things easily — he sees how it’s done, and he does it,” Jordan said. “It kind of creeps me out, but he gets it done, dude.”
Bain has thoroughly enjoyed this start to his senior season, when he has gotten a chance to show his array of talents. It is much more fun than the past two years, when he struggled to rediscover the form he lost after undergoing surgery following his freshman season.
It was a surgery on a Bennett’s lesion — a fancy name for a bone spur — in his throwing shoulder. After spending time in LSU’s weekend rotation as a freshman, Bain saw his role diminish in each of the next two seasons.
“The whole time I’ve been trying to fight and compete my way back into a vital role on the team,” Bain said. “I don’t regret anything from the past years. I’ve always been trying to compete as hard as I can, but the failures taught me a lot.”
He may not have seen what shape that role would take, though. The usual attrition during the offseason left LSU short in the infield and opened the door for Bain.
What first looked to be a move by LSU coach Paul Mainieri to find some depth appears to have unearthed something greater.
“It’s amazing,” Mainieri said. “I couldn’t be happier for a young man than I am for Austin Bain this year. I know these last two years have been tough for him. ...
“It warms my heart to see him, at least through the early part of his last season, to be such an important cog on our team.”
The bonus is that Bain’s play with a bat in his hands may have helped him on the mound as well. Bain looks like a new pitcher on the mound, with his velocity up and his command improved.
Bain said it reminds him of his high school days, when he starred as a two-way player for Dutchtown, when he would already have adrenaline pumping through him before he took the ball to pitch.
Maybe Nick Storz will make his debut in an LSU uniform this weekend, maybe he will not.
“It’s made him feel more like a baseball player instead of just pigeonholed into one role,” Mainieri said. “It’s helped him when he’s gone on the mound, being more loose and letting it rip.”
Bain might be a man of many talents, but he is happy his talents on the baseball field are getting a chance to shine.
He thinks back to something a close family friend, Billy Guitreau, told him.
“Great people take opportunities and they run with them, they don’t watch them pass by,” Bain said. “I tried to find an opportunity in the situation and made the best I could with it.”
Of course he did.