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LSU Baseball Approaching SEC Tournament, Postseason With Right Frame of Mind

Tigers know what's at stake this week, need to turn in a few wins to ensure bid in NCAA tournament

Coach Paul Mainieri wanted to put his team in the right mindset on the bus ride up to Hoover for the SEC Tournament. He was sent an advanced copy of "Hold the Rope," the SEC Network documentary all about the Skip Bertman era of LSU baseball and the five national championships those teams won. 

Mainieri wanted his players to see that approach the Bertman led teams had that won those championships, putting an emphasis on picking the next man up and being one team. Though he's been at LSU for over 15 years, Mainieri always preaches to his teams the importance of carrying on the legacy that those before them built.

It's a message the players heard loud and clear throughout the hour long documentary as the 2021 Tigers look to build their own legacy and push for a postseason bid. 

"We became the custodians of this program and when they put that jersey on, they're representing all of the great players and coaches before us," Mainieri said. "What you do in the postseason is what creates your legacy, now that's where the fun begins."

The grind of the regular season can be so taxing on teams that there's almost a sense of relief once they get to the postseason. LSU, particularly in Hoover, has had success in recent years under Mainieri because of how loose the team plays when they're in that tournament setting. 

"There's a lot of pressure on these kids to play at LSU," Mainieri said. "Now that we've gotten in to the postseason, typically what we've done is more relaxation comes over the players and they play their best baseball. I just told them, this is the fun time in the season where you go out there and let it rip."

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One of the most important aspects of this week's games will be the relief pitching. When teams make deep runs in conference tournaments, sometimes five games are played in a very short span, putting extra pressure on the bullpen to be sharp.

For LSU, the bullpen is coming off arguably it's best performance of the season, throwing 17.1 innings against Texas A&M and allowing just a single run. Javen Coleman, Garrett Edwards, Devin Fontenot, Trent Vietmeier, Michael Fowler and Ty Floyd all stepped up in the final weekend series, and the Tigers will need every single one of them at their best this week.

"They really stepped up for us big," first baseman Tre Morgan said. "Hitting struggled a bit but them to hold us close in those games and wait for the sticks to get hot, they really did their job.

"Our bullpen has been lights out for us recently," Marceaux said. "One guy that sticks out big time is Javen Coleman. Early in the year he kind of struggled a little bit and now he's coming out and you could argue we wouldn't be where we're at without him. We've got other guys in the back of the pen that will do what they need to do so we're gonna keep relying on them."

LSU is not afraid to play on the road as it won four of its five road series in 2021. With the added atmosphere that Hoover brings, especially because of the heavy influence of the LSU fan base there every year, the players are looking forward to competing in that environment.

"We know what we have to do here. We have to handle some business here and we really have to play every game like it's our last because every one counts," Morgan said.

"It's an elimination game, you're backs are against the wall," Mainieri said. "You've gotta find that zone and find a way to get the job done. If you had one game you had to win, I'd prefer to have Landon Marceaux on the mound. I feel confident and we'll be ready to play."