BATON ROUGE, La — The 2012 LSU baseball squad takes the field for the first time at 1 p.m. Sunday, as the Tigers begin their six-week fall practice period in Alex Box Stadium.
The fall practice session continues through November 4. All workouts in Alex Box Stadium are open to the public.
The Tigers have engaged for the last month in strength and conditioning drills and individual workouts on the field. The 2012 season begins on February 17, when the Tigers play host to Air Force in Alex Box Stadium.
“We are extremely excited about this group of players,” said three-time National Coach of the Year Paul Mainieri, entering his sixth season at LSU. “We will have 40 players in fall practice. We’ll have to make some decisions before our first game in February about who will be on our final 35-man roster. I think this is a very talented team, particularly on the mound.”
The LSU roster includes 24 lettermen from the 2011 club, including 10 position players with starting experience and eight pitchers that recorded innings last season.
Senior shortstop Austin Nola and senior infielder Tyler Hanover are three-year starters that helped lead LSU to the 2009 College World Series title. Other Tigers returning that made significant contributions last season include junior all-SEC outfielder Mason Katz, junior outfielder/DH Raph Rhymes, senior utility player Grant Dozar, junior outfielder Alex Edward and sophomore outfielder/infielder JaCoby Jones, a 2011 Freshman all-American.
The pitching staff is led by a trio of outstanding sophomores – right-handers Kurt McCune, Kevin Gausman and Ryan Eades. McCune was a 2011 Freshman all-America selection, Gausman played for the USA Collegiate National Team in July and Eades was voted the Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year this summer.
“This might be the deepest pitching staff I’ve ever had as a coach,” Mainieri said. “I’m excited to see what (LSU first-year pitching coach) Alan Dunn does with this staff because we have a chance and a need to be a dominant pitching staff come springtime.”
Other returning pitchers that should contribute on the mound include junior right-handers Kevin Berry and Jimmy Dykstra, sophomore right-handers Joe Broussard, Nick Rumbelow and Michael Reed, and junior left-hander Chris Cotton.
Junior right-hander Joey Bourgeois and sophomore lefty Jordan Rittiner are back on the active roster after sitting out the 2011 season with arm injuries.
The LSU veterans are complemented by a talented class of 14 newcomers, including five players that were selected in the 2011 Major League Draft. The class was rated No. 7 in the nation in the annual Collegiate Baseball magazine survey.
“Four out of the five drafted players are pitchers who will make a serious impact on our team,” Mainieri said. “Even the players that were not drafted, we feel very good about them and think they will be some of the best players in our program as we go forward.”