LISTEN IN: Paul Mainieri
Coach talks SEC Tournament expansion with TR Radio
With the beginning of spring ball just around the corner, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri joined Tiger Rag Radio Tuesday night.
The league recently decided to change the SEC Tournament from an eight-team to a 10-team format in an effort to help schools from the SEC qualify for the NCAA Tournament, according to Mainieri.
“With the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri for the 2013 season - as baseball coaches, nobody’s afraid of the competition, in this league you’re going to play a great team every weekend - what we were concerned about is if we kept the tournament at eight teams and now had 14 teams playing, that means that six very good baseball teams were not going to make the SEC Tournament. And was proven last year, when you give a selection committee any ammunition at all to keep a team from being invited into the NCAA Tournament as what’s happened to us last year, it really hurts the league and it hurts us individual schools.”
The SEC will begin this 10-team format in the 2012 baseball season even though the league won’t expand to 14 teams until 2013, and Mainieri didn’t rule out the possibility of the conference expanding its tournament even more in the near future.
As for the regular season, Mainieri said its likely that the SEC will keep a 30-game regular season conference slate despite the expansion, meaning every team will not play three opponents from the opposite division every year.
Moving on to baseball on the field, Mainieri’s squad has been ranked No. 12 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
“We’ve got at least six starting position players back. We’ve got our entire weekend rotation back so what was a really young team last year now has a lot of experience.”
Mason Katz (RF) leads LSU’s returnees in the field, and he’ll be joined by Ty Ross (C), Jacoby Jones (CF from 2B), Tyler Hanover (3B), Austin Nola (SS) and possibly Alex Edward (LF).
On the mound, the starting sophomore rotation of Kevin Gausman, Kurt McCune and Ryan Eades returns and should be among the best weekend rotations in the nation.
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