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LSU Baseball Players Hoping to Give Coach Paul Mainieri One Last Great Tournament Run

Mainieri wants postseason run to be about players, not himself as Tigers prepare for Oregon regional

Landon Marceaux was just hoping for an opportunity. He's one of the few athletes who doesn't have any social network profiles so he wasn't paying much attention to the chatter or projections over the last week as LSU baseball awaited its tournament fate. 

Instead, Marceaux was taking the few extra days to stay ready mentally and physically should LSU get a tournament bid. The SEC Tournament left a sour taste in Marceaux's mouth, as well as his fellow teammates. And when coach Paul Mainieri pulled the team aside for a team meeting on Friday to announce his retirement, immediately Marceaux was hoping that 4-1 loss to Georgia wouldn't be how LSU's historic coach would be sent out.

"We didn't want that to be the last game for coach, that would've been devastating," Marceaux said. "I was a young boy watching coach and he's been here for 15 years and done extraordinary things. And to leave on that note would be devastating and to get this opportunity to play for coach means a lot to this team."

Because he wasn't on social media, Marceaux also didn't see much of the in-season speculation about Mainieri's future with the program. So when the coach he'd watched for 15 years did spring the news on him and the team, Marceaux was shocked.

"I had no idea that was even a thought. He came in and said his contract lasted three years and he wanted to fulfill that contract," Marceaux said. "I was shocked, I had no idea that was going to happen. He's been at this a long time so he knows what's best for this program and I think we're going to try and send him out on top."

"It was a shell shock. You definitely don't wanna see anybody step away from the game but coach is at peace with it and I understand where he's coming from," outfielder Gavin Dugas said. "You really hate to see somebody with his success step down but I love every bit of him. He's one of the best coaches I've ever had, a great man, a great human being and he's shaped me into the man I am today. I appreciate him and everything he's done for us and hopefully we can pay it back in a good way."

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Dugas and Marceaux represent just the tiniest fraction of players who Mainieri has impacted over his 39-year coaching career. Both veterans on the team know what Mainieri has meant to all former and current players within the LSU program over the last decade and a half.

Now the goal is to send their coach out with a bang and do their best to return to Omaha, or go down swinging. 

"Every single thing he's said to me and everything he's done has been for a reason and looking back on it I'm so thankful for the things he's done," Dugas said. "He's taught me so much about myself, about this game and I couldn't be more thankful for that. He's taught me how to be strong and how to handle things.

"As a team, we wanted this opportunity to send him out," Marceaux said. "We kinda got together and talked about it and now that we've got this opportunity it's really motivating us that it's his last run and doing it for the program that he's been in charge of."

For Mainieri, he doesn't want this to be about him. Over his LSU career, he's made the NCAA tournament 13 times and while at Notre Dame, he made it nine additional times. For him, it's about these players getting that opportunity to compete for a national championship. 

"I don't want it to be about me, I've done this for 39 years. I don't know how many NCAA Tournament's I've been in but I've had an awful lot of great experiences," Mainieri said. "If we had not had our name called today, I wouldn't have been upset for Paul Mainieri's sake, I would've been upset for those 30 some odd kids. I've had plenty of chances, my career is fulfilled and I've had a bucket load of great experiences so I would've been heartbroken for the players.

"We're not gonna play any tougher teams than we've played all season. They're all great teams, championship caliber teams. We're gonna go up there, let it rip and hopefully be able to win that thing.