So this weekend, the Bears are in Houston playing on a real, live MLB field. They dropped the first game vs. Hawaii with a demoralizing two hits. Yikes. But more on that later.
Their next opponent is none other than the LSU Tigers, who are (if you weren't already aware) a traditional powerhouse. I sat down with PodKATT of And The Valley Shook! to discuss this upcoming matchup. Okay, we emailed...this is the twenty-first century after all. (And in classic KimboSmash fashion, there are some changeups. Okay, okay, I'm done with the terrible baseball puns.)
Know Thine Enemy: Baseball Edition!
KimboSmash: LSU has been a traditional powerhouse in baseball. In your opinion, is there any sort of chink in the armor that you're concerned about? Do you think it's enough of an issue to prevent LSU's success this season (and possible postseason)?
PodKATT: After a few games, it’s easy to say my biggest concern is pitching. After many years of having a no-doubt next level anchor in Kevin Gausman (1st round to Baltimore) and Aaron Nola (1st round to Philly) we’ve got a staff with a lot of young arms that have potential and upperclassmen who haven’t quite met theirs. So far, the Freshmen starters are starting to grow into their hype, but the middle relief behind them has been lacking, and while Jesse Stallings looks to be a great fireball closer, he can’t pitch every game. I worry that in SEC play the starters will do fine, but the bullpen may let us down. Coach Mainieri is certainly trying everyone he can to find out who can be trusted.
KS: So, we know y'all are good. But if you were force to differentiate between everything this group does well, what would you say the team does best on the field?
PK: We hit fine, better this year than in the past thanks to the new balls just giving the guys more confidence at the plate, but I’d have to say it’s the ESS-EEE-CEE SPEEEED. This is hands down the fastest outfield LSU has fielded in many years and I’ve seen multiple national pundits say they are the fastest in the country. Foster, Laird, and Stevenson all have great burst and they just kill anything hit their way. LSU has only given up 20 extra base hits through 13 games thanks to their efforts. It also translates to the base paths where those three are of 12 of 14 on stolen base attempts. Laird has even out run his own sac bunt to the mound this season.
KS: Are there any names to keep in mind at bat? On the mound?
PK: At the plate, the star is SS Alex Bregman. Defacto team captain and a sure 1st day draft pick this summer, Bregman’s a beast at the plate and as a great intensity about him in the field. He’s started a little slow, but as it’s his final campaign before his next draft, we’re all just waiting for him to lock in. On the mound, I’ve already mentioned closer Jesse Stallings, but look out for Collin Strall. He’s a righty sidewinder that has been used sparingly in middle relief so far and it’s great to watch batters become suddenly lost against the guy. Most of our pitchers have your standard fast and cure balls with minimum mid-to-high 80’s speed, but Strall comes in with his weird sidewinder throw that’s in the low 80’s and the batters can’t adjust.
KS: Kim Mulkey's son Kramer is on the roster for LSU. Do you believe that influences relations between the Baylor and LSU squads? If so, how?
PK: I don’t think there really are relations between the squads. We’ve seen Kim Mulkey show up at a few LSU baseball games after the hoops season is over, but that’s about it. Don’t forget, there was nearly a blood feud between Mulkey and former LSU women’s hoops coach Pokey Chatman in the mid 00’s, and she was a local nemesis for Sue Gunter during her playing and coaching days at La Tech.
KS: What is your favorite piece of baseball equipment and why?
PK: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked this before. I like stirrups and any player who respects the game enough to wear them. It’s harder to find those guys every year, but when you do see one on the team, you know the guy enjoys playing baseball just as much as you do watching it.
Shoutout to PodKATT for sharing his thoughts and time and energy with me!
The Bears and Tigers face off tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 Central. The game will be televised on Cox Sports Television (if you know what that is, cause I sure don't).
Your Bears finish out the weekend with a 2:30 game against Texas A&M, then head off to play lots of baseball during Spring Break!
PS: I tweeted this out earlier, but I will be doing recaps regarding these games but I'm fixing to be out of pocket for a while soooooo....be good Baylor-ites and bear with me? (Har, har, har.)