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A baseball Q&A with And The Valley Shook

I was nice enough to take some time out of my day to get this Q&A done. You should definitely read it.

FWtCT: It seemed like doom and gloom after App State took 2 of 3 at Alex Box, but LSU has since seemed to get back on track? Was that just a blip on the radar or did ASU expose a possible weakness?

ATVS: I wouldn't say it exposed a weakness as much as it brought it more into focus. Not being able to get the offense going due to a few dead bats in the lineup was a problem we knew we had, but against two great starting pitchers who had career days it became obvious that it wasn't going to be successful against decent pitching. Luckily, Coach Mainieri isn't one to wait around to make a move and the changes seem to have worked. We are hitting better since that weekend but the competition hasn't been great. The only way to really tell if this lineup is going to work in conference is to actually play some conference games.

(It also helps that Appy St is a good team has acquitted itself nicely in their nonconf games so far. Keep an eye out for them come the post season)

LSU freshman Kurt McCune seems to have been struggling as of late, does he have a chance to get the start Sunday or is Mainieri looking elsewhere?

Mainieri has already made the move and will be starting Aaron Nola, a high end prospect who turned down some serious cash to play at LSU with his brother JR SS Austin Nola. Nola's had some great outings in our midweek games, especially an 8 inning 6K gem on the road at a packed Tulane. I don't think the move is permanent, and we could see McCune come out of the pen sometime this weekend. It's a lot to put on a Freshman to give him his first weekend start in conference play, but I think he'll do very well.

Is it possible the entire team is still sick with the stomach flu and that the Tigers wish to simply concede the weekend? But seriously, is anyone still battling that?

At this point, everyone is over it, but there are still some as of Wed. night's game who were battling the after effects of not being able to practice, notably starting 2B Jones and LF Foster. This was a crippling bug that would have left LSU with just 9 fielders on Monday. Coach Mainieri even said that SS Austin Nola had lost 11lbs in the illness. Everyone should be healthy for the weekend, though.

A question, more for me, than our readers, but I lived in Baton Rouge for 7 years as a young kid, and loved going to the old Alex Box but haven't made it to the new one yet. What's your opinion of the new(ish) stadium and how its playing as compared to the old one.

It doesn't have that same feeling of "right on top of the field" that the Old Box had, to be honest, and there is still a slight feeling of sterile "newness" to the park thats just going to take time to get over, but there is no mistaking what a huge upgrade it is in every facet over the old park. Accommodations for fans and player facilities are night-and-day better than the Old Box and we've already had to take advantage of the space available to add more seats. The new place also gets rocking just as loud as the Old Box did when the crowd gets into it, so I think the home field advantage has been preserved in the transition. I might never say it's better than the Old Box, but I don't regret the move.

As for how it plays, the field itself was built to the exact same dimensions as the Old Box, but it's a bit closer to the river and I think that the wind tends to blow in a bit more than it used to. If you hit something that gets stuck up there, it's not leaving the park.

Mississippi State's strength of schedule is currently 177, while the same rankings have LSUs at 240. Despite all the talent on the team, do you worry there is going to be an extreme uptick in the level of competition LSU is about to start facing on the weekend? How do you think the team will respond?

It's a worry we have every year as LSU has now become a poster child for the NCAA's RPI crusade against big name teams not leaving home, but not a big worry. The Tulane game is always a good barometer for us because It's a heated rivalry that both teams get up for and the Greenies usually have good to great squads. There's no question that the teams we face from here on out are orders of magnitude more talented and better coached than who we've played to this point, but this club is experienced and should handle it well enough to be over any jitters early on

Your thoughts on who will be LSU's MVP (both hitter and pitcher)come the end of the year?

Pitcher I have to think will be between Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola. They are both throwing extremely well right now and I think much of our conference sucess will be dependant on them staying hot. Katz is just hitting the lights out of the ball this year, doing a great honor to his handed down #8 from Mikie Mahtook

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