LSU baseball team set to begin 2014 preparation

Bill Franques

Members of the 2014 LSU baseball team began fall semester classes Monday and are scheduled to start conditioning drills next Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The squad will engage in several orientation meetings this week as it prepares for the upcoming season.

Beginning next week, the Tigers take part in strength and conditioning training and perform individual workouts in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. LSU will conduct its full-squad fall practice session from Sept. 29 through Nov. 4.

The 2014 season begins on Feb. 14, when the Tigers play host to New Orleans in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

"This is always one of my favorite times of the year as we begin the process of building our team," said three-time National Coach of the Year Paul Mainieri, who directed LSU in 2013 to an SEC-record 57 wins and an appearance in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. "We are going to go into fall practice with a lot of new recruited players and some outstanding returning players that will formulate the core of our team. We think we've recruited an excellent class of players, guys that we are extremely excited to get to work with.

"We'll work to figure out how the pieces of the puzzle will fit together to give us another ball club that will challenge for a berth in Omaha. This time, when we get to Omaha, hopefully we will be able to come back with the big trophy. I don't want to go into the fall with any preconceived notions about what any players strengths or limitations are. We are going to go into the fall being as fair as we can to every player and create a very competitive atmosphere and let them all compete for their roles."

The LSU roster includes 20 lettermen from the 2013 club, including 10 position players with starting experience and nine pitchers that recorded innings last season.

The returning players are led by junior right-hander Aaron Nola, a 2013 first-team all-American and the SEC Pitcher of the Year; and by sophomore shortstop Alex Bregman, the 2013 National Freshman of the Year and the winner of Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's best shortstop.

Other players returning that were regular contributors to the lineup last season include senior third baseman Christian Ibarra, a first-team all-SEC selection; senior outfielder Sean McMullen, junior infielder Tyler Moore, junior outfielder Chris Sciambra, junior outfielder Jared Foster, sophomore outfielder Mark Laird and sophomore outfielder Andrew Stevenson.

Returning pitchers that should contribute on the mound include senior right-handers Kurt McCune and Nate Fury, junior left-hander Cody Glenn, junior right-hander Joe Broussard, and sophomore right-handers Hunter Newman and Mitch Sewald. Sophomore right-hander Russell Reynolds, who underwent shoulder surgery last season, may receive a medical redshirt in 2014 as he continues his rehabilitation.

The LSU veterans are complemented by a talented class of 20 newcomers, including eight position players and 12 pitchers.

One of the newcomers scheduled to join the team, freshman right-handed pitcher Dylan Williams of Cartersville, Ga., will not enroll at LSU this fall in order to resolve a personal legal matter. Mainieri said he is hopeful Williams will be able to enroll at LSU in January and join the Tigers this spring.

Mainieri said freshman right-hander Jesse Stallings of Colfax will receive a medical redshirt this season after undergoing arm surgery over the summer.