NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The LSU Tigers learned Sunday night that they will be hosting an NCAA Tournament Regional.
There was reason to be confident – they earned a national seed and the right to host a Super Regional. But it was the No. 1 overall seed they had their eyes set on.
"Quite frankly, deep down, I was hoping we would get it," coach Paul Mainieri said Monday.
When the seeds were announced, the Tigers came up second behind UCLA - the school that beat them in the College World Series in 2013. Mainieri discussed the decision afterward.
"I thought we were probably deserving of it," he said. "You can't argue with UCLA, either. They're a great program. For them to be the No. 1 overall seed is well-deserved. I told our players whether we were No. 1 or No. 8, it really didn't matter because all you have to do is be a national seed in order to have the advantages of a national seed, which specifically is if you are fortunate enough to win the regional tournament, then you are able to host a super regional."
Junior shortstop Alex Bregman is a leader on a team that had a top eight seed on their radar all season.
"Getting a national seed is a big goal," Bregman said. "It was one of our goals and we accomplished that, that's awesome. Not having the number one seed does not put us at a disadvantage or an advantage."
The Tigers will begin their regional against Lehigh with Tulane and UNC-Wilmington making up the other half of the field. Just last year, LSU fell victim to underdog Houston in a regional.
"We kind of tasted that defeat," Bregman said. "I think we're a better team than we were, I think we're more of a complete team and I think we're going to learn from those experiences and not take any pitch for granted."
This year, Houston is hosting the regional the Tigers are paired against - meaning if both hosts win, they'll have a rematch in Baton Rouge with a ticket to the College World Series on the line.
Mainieri chuckled when the scenario was pointed out and shared some of the motivation that has come from 2014.
"We learned a very valuable lesson last year, the players did, that you can't look ahead," Mainieri said. "Southeastern gave us all we could handle in game one, and then we won game two and Houston had scored one run in 16 innings against us and we virtually dominated them until the eighth inning of game three and our fortunes turned just like that so it's not just coach speak. Believe me when I say this, you can't look ahead in this business."
First pitch Friday is set for 3 p.m.