Opening Day is finally here, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish head down to Baton Rouge for a weekend series with the LSU Tigers. Last year’s College World Series runner-up, the Tigers have a familiar face at the helm, as head coach Paul Mainieri held the same position at Notre Dame for 12 seasons (1995-2006). After seeing the football and basketball teams beat LSU in both the Citrus Bowl and Maui Invitational, the baseball team will look to make it 3 in a row.
ND - LHP Scott Tully (GS) (2-0, 3.71 ERA in 2017)
LSU - RHP Caleb Gilbert (JR) (7-1, 2.16 ERA in 2017)
ND - LHP Tommy Sheehan (FR) (No 2017 statistics)
LSU - RHP Zach Hess (SO) (7-1, 3.12 ERA in 2017)
ND - RHP Cameron Junker (SO) (0-0, 0.00 ERA in 2017)
LSU - RHP Todd Peterson (SO) (3-1, 4.19 ERA in 2017)
LSU made it all the way to the College World Series final last year before losing to the Florida Gators, but much of that team won’t be returning to the field this year. The Tigers lost their entire starting rotation as well as their closer to either injury or the MLB Draft after last year. This is not a team, however, that should be expected to struggle this year, as they will be able to draw from their depth to fill those voids. There are plenty of question marks in a rotation that will have three new starters, but the talent is certainly there to contend.
The first thing you should notice about the LSU lineup is the depth, as top to bottom there are very few if any holes. The top f the order is very heavy with lefties, and Notre Dame’s success may depend on whether their left-handed starters are able to take advantage of that in the Friday and Saturday games.
Despite the losses LSU still comes into the season ranked #9 in the country and Notre Dame hasn’t beaten a top 10 team on the diamond since 2015. The Irish are 3-2 all time in Baton Rouge, but if they can avoid the sweep and take one of the three games this weekend it should be considered a successful start to the season.