LSU baseball’s SEC series wins have come thanks to contributions from two freshmen

Ashton Larson has been LSU's best hitter in SEC play this season. PHOTO BY: LSU Athletics

LSU baseball has had a rough season, but two freshman standouts provide some hope to what the future might hold.

Freshmen Ashton Larson and Steven Milam have been some of the Tigers’ most productive players over the last couple of series and have helped LSU claim its first two SEC series wins of the season.

This weekend, when LSU seemed dead and done against Auburn, Milam and Larson almost did enough to drag the Tigers back into the game. All five of LSU’s runs came off the bats of Larson and Milam as LSU came up just short in game three against Auburn.

Most players perform better in the out of conference games than they do in SEC games, but Larson is one of just a handful of players on LSU’s roster to have their batting average go up in conference play.

Larson came to LSU as the No. 78 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 1 overall player in the state of Kansas. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round, but elected to head to Baton Rouge instead.

On the season, Larson is batting .364 through 77 at-bats. In SEC play though, his batting average rises to .412 through 51 at-bats. In LSU’s last two SEC series, he has 11 hits and three walks in 23 at-bats. He has two different three hit games and five RBI over those series.

“I think I had a lot of growing up to do in the fall in terms of adjusting to this level of pitching,” Larson said. “And the coaching staff did an unbelievable job and I’m super grateful to them for helping me develop and continue to get better and better.”

His is second on the team in doubles in SEC play despite having just 13 starts. All three of his homers this year have come against conference opponents and his .706 slugging percentage is the best on the team with Tommy White trailing behind in second with a .659.

“Trying to take one pitch at a time, trying to battle, trying to compete,” Larson said. “Not getting too emotional at all and just trying to execute what you’re trying to do.”

Milam got off to a red-hot start to his freshman season. Before SEC play started, he was batting .368 with 13 RBI in the first few weeks of the season. He’s fourth on the team in both hits and RBI.

“[Milam] does a lot of things right,” Johnson said. “And we’re just scratching the surface. And I’m excited about that.”

His production slowed down once conference play started, but he’s hit a homer in each of the last two series including the three-run bomb against Auburn that got LSU back in the game. He also had a homer against Nicholls last Tuesday.

His homer against Missouri came with him batting left-handed and his homer against Auburn came with him batting right-handed.

“I’ve always had that power, even coming in,” Milam said. “I’ve been adjusting my swinging trying to get certain stuff going. I came in hitting a little more ground balls than I normally do so I’ve been just getting back to my routine and trying to do what I was doing in high school.”

Milam’s fielding has been reliable for LSU during conference play this season as well. He has just one error in SEC play and has turned 19 double plays overall this season.

Both Larson and Milam have played major roles for LSU this season and have been some of the best players on the team during both the Tigers’ SEC series wins. They’ll be looking to continue those performances as LSU fights to qualify for postseason play.

LSU is currently in the SEC tournament field but will host No. 1 Texas A&M this weekend before heading on the road against a tough Alabama team. The Tigers will be aiming to reach 13 conference wins this season, which was the number of wins they had when they snuck into the NCAA Tournament back in 2021. They’ll need six wins in their final nine games to hit that mark.

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Will Nickel

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