When LSU heard their name called as the fourth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, there was applause, but no wild celebration. That’s because year in and year out, they expect to be in this situation. And after winning a red-hot month of May complete with an SEC regular season title, conference tournament title and 11-game win streak, it’s not a huge surprise that they’ve climbed the ranks so quickly.
“Like coach says, you get what you earn,” says all-SEC right fielder Greg Deichmann. “I think our resume the past few weeks put us in this spot. That’s what we were hoping for.”
“I guess people were just seeing what kind of ball we’re playing here,” says junior ace Alex Lange. “They’re giving us respect. But that just means the more respect, the bigger the target is on our back.”
The teams taking a swing at that target are very familiar with the Tigers and very familiar with Alex Box. Southeastern heads to Baton Rouge as the two seed. Rice will be the three seed, and Texas Southern will be LSU’s first opponent on Friday as the four seed.
Southeastern is an annual opponent of the Tigers and will play in the Baton Rouge Regional for the third time in the last four years. Rice, meanwhile, pushed LSU to the limit in last year’s regional, forcing a winner-take-all game seven.
They’ll both be tough outs, for sure. But the Tigers hope that Alex Box Stadium will be their trump card.
“I feel like we’re a lot better team when we play at 'The Box' with our fans and our atmosphere,” says shortstop Kramer Robertson. “It’s a huge advantage for us. We earned the right to play at home, and we’re excited about it.”
However, LSU knows all too well that home field advantage and a national seed don’t always equal a national championship. Only two top eight national seeds have won the NCAA Tournament in the last 13 years.
“It might be a traditional power,” says head coach Paul Mainieri. “It might be someone you’ve never heard of, but every team that’s in this tournament is in the tournament because they earned their way in, either by winning a championship of playing well throughout the year. So we have to respect all of our opponents and be more concerned with how we play than who we’re playing.”
LSU’s first matchup is set for 2:30 p.m. on Friday against Texas Southern.
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