Baton Rouge, La. -- Head Coach Paul Mainieri said there's only one goal for LSU baseball every season, and that's to win it all. But that being said, this year the first rule of Omaha, is you do not talk about Omaha.
"We're going to have a strict rule," Mainieri said. "I'm going to warn you right up front here with our players. Today is the last day that they are allowed to talk about going to Omaha and winning national championships. I've given them free reign to talk about it today. After today, if you ask them questions about it, the only thing they're going to be talking about is UL- Monroe, because that's our next game."
"I think it's awesome," said LSU junior infielder Josh Smith. "Everybody knows that's our ultimate goal. You can't go to Omaha if you don't win game after game."
"Yeah, today's the last day we can officially talk about it," said LSU freshman first baseman Cade Beloso. "But that has been the goal since we arrived here. Omaha or nothing really. That's all he's been talking about."
The Tigers have been picked as the top team in the nation in 3 preseason polls and picked second in two other polls. A big reason they’re the team to beat is because of a core group of returners— who could all be playing in the pros right now.
"Of course the biggest news was that we have three returning players that could have signed professionally last year that decided to put their pro careers off for one year and make one more run at it with the LSU Tigers," Mainieri said. "Of course I'm speaking of Zack Hess, Zach Watson and Antoine Duplantis. And what a difference it makes to have those guys out there. Every day they're out there, you can just feel the leadership, the calmness, the experience and how it rubs off even on the young players to let them know how it works."
"We made the decisions on an individual basis," Hess said. "We didn't really verbalize it but I think all three of us kind of understood deep down that if we come back in 2019 and we can stay health, there's a shot LSU can do something pretty special."
"If whoever signed-- If Hess signed, if Watson signed, I still would have come back," Duplantis said. "It was kind of more of my individual stance. I didn't think the opportunity was right for me and I really wanted to come back and give another shot at this, go to the national championship."
"We've got the best outfield in the country," Watson said. "That's my opinion. Really just the outfield is outstanding. We've got a lot of older guys, which is a lot of leadership out there. And having Josh Smith back. I feel like we have a lot of leaders this year to help the younger guys and to help the younger guys improve so I'm looking forward to it."
LSU begins the season with 9 of their first 10 games at home, starting with their Military Appreciation Weekend Friday February 15th against UL-Monroe.