By Jeff Palermo
LSU will begin NCAA Regional play on Friday at Alex Box Stadium by hosting SWAC Tournament champion Texas Southern. Southeastern Louisiana and Rice are also coming to Baton Rouge.
If LSU wins the BR Regional they’ll face the winner of Hattiesburg Regional, which features Southern Miss and Mississippi State. Tigers Coach Paul Mainieri says one game at a time.
"We can't even be thinking about Super Regionals," Mainieri said. "We got to get through Friday then Saturday then Sunday and hopefully when Sunday is over, we'll be the regional champs. But that's only three-fifths of the job, there won't be any dog piles after regional championships, because you have to win two more games to get to Omaha."
LSU will play Texas Southern at 2:30 PM. Mainieri has yet to decide on a starting pitcher.
"With Eric Walker going (Sunday), he's probably not a candidate to come back and pitch on Friday, I don't think we want to do that" Mainieri said. "And I'm sure we'd want to pitch (Alex) Lange in the middle game, hopefully it will be a winner's bracket game. So we just got to figure out what we want to do on Friday.
Texas Southern has a record of 20-32 but won the SWAC Tournament to receive the automatic bid. The Tigers started the season with an 0-8 record. In the SWAC Tourney, they beat Jackson State twice, who was the best team in the league. TSU has a team ERA of 6.56.
The other two in the Baton Rouge Regional, the number two seed Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions are 36-20 and are in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. SLU went 12-3 in its last 15 regular season games.
Former Holy Cross star Taylor Schwaner is the Southland Player of the Year. He's hitting .320 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. Ex-Brother Martin star Corey Gaconi is the Lions best pitcher with a 6-5 record at 2.83 ERA.
The number three seed is the Rice Owls. Rice is 31-29 but they won the Conference USA Tournament and they'll be making their 23rd consecutive trip to a Regional.
Rice has won 18 of its last 22. They have two really good hitters. Sophomore catcher Dominic Dicaprio is hitting .365 with 6 home runs and 47 RBIs. Dane Myers is hitting .360 with 6 home runs and 38 RBIs. The Owls are not very strong on the mound as they have a team ERA of 5.10.
The Baton Rouge Regional is tied to the Hattiesburg Regional. Southern Miss is the top seed, Mississippi State is the 2nd seed, South Alabama is the third seed and Illinois-Chicago is the 4th seed.