Western Michigan Broncos (0-0) at No. 1 LSU Tigers (0-0)
• Friday, February 17 @ now 3 p.m. CT
• Saturday, February 18 @ 1:30 p.m. CT
• Sunday, February 19 @ 12:30 p.m. CT
• Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field (10,326)
• LSU – No. 1 in all 2023 preseason polls
• WMU – unranked
• All three games will be streamed live on SEC Network +
LSU SERIES RECORD VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN
• This weekend’s series marks the first meeting in baseball between LSU and Western Michigan … LSU has a 19-7 all-time record against current members of the Mid-American Conference – the Tigers are 2-1 vs. Ball State, 2-0 vs. Central Michigan, 0-1 vs. Kent State, 12-5 vs. Northern Illinois and 3-0 vs. Ohio.
LSU – Jr. RH Paul Skenes (at Air Force in 2022: 10-3, 2.73 ERA, 85.2 IP, 30 BB, 96 SO)
WMU – Jr. RH Brady Miller (redshirted in 2022 due to injury)
LSU – Jr. LH Riley Cooper (4-3, 4.20 ERA, 40.2 IP, 8 BB, 35 SO in 2022)
WMU – Sr. LH Dane Armbrustmacher (6-1, 6.47 ERA, 65.1 IP, 29 BB, 73 SO in 2022)
LSU – Fr. RH Chase Shores (will make collegiate debut Sunday)
WMU – So. RH Ethan Houghtaling (1-3, 10.68 ERA, 30.1 IP, 22 BB, 20 SO in 2022)
QUOTING COACH JAY JOHNSON
“We’re taking one game at a time, trying to do things in the context of winning that day. To win Division I baseball games, you have to do things right. The goal is to put our players in positions to have success, and we’ll figure out what our best team looks like as we move forward. Two years ago, my last Arizona team – which ended up going to Omaha – opened the season by splitting four games with Ball State, which is from the same conference as Western Michigan. That Ball State team was very good with a really good pitching staff, so we’re preparing to face a strong challenge from Western Michigan.”
ABOUT THE TIGERS
• LSU has won 21 consecutive season-opening games; the Tigers’ last loss in a season opener occurred on February 10, 2001, when LSU dropped a 9-8 decision to Kansas State in the original Alex Box Stadium.
• Coach Jay Johnson enters his second season at the helm of the LSU program this weekend versus Western Michigan … Johnson has worked 10 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including one season (2005) at Point Loma Nazarene, two seasons (2014-15) at Nevada, six seasons (2016-21) at Arizona and one season at LSU … he directed Arizona to College World Series appearances in 2016 and in 2021, and the Wildcats finished as the national runners-up in 2016 to Coastal Carolina … Johnson’s 2021 Arizona club also won the Pac-12 conference title, and he was named the league’s coach of the year.
• The 2022 LSU squad posted a 40-22 mark under Jay Johnson’s direction and advanced to the final round of the NCAA Hattiesburg Regional … the Tigers finished 17-13 in the SEC and placed fourth in the league, marking LSU’s first Top 4 conference finish since 2017 … the ’22 Tigers were one of the top offensive teams in the nation, finishing in the Top 3 in the SEC in runs scored (No. 2 – 503), slugging percentage (No. 2 – .516), total bases (No. 2 – 1100); on-base percentage (No. 2 – .404), RBI (No. 2 – 477), home runs (No. 3 -114), batting average (No. 3 – .289) and hit-by-pitch (No. 1 – 125).
• The 2023 Tigers, ranked No. 1 in every 2023 preseason poll, return 11 position players with starting experience and nine pitchers who recorded innings last season … the roster also features several talented transfers who are capable of making an immediate impact, along with a highly-touted class of true freshmen.
• Four LSU players appear on the Preseason Watch List for Golden Spikes Award, as USA Baseball began the process of identifying the nation’s top amateur player for the 2023 season. The Tigers on the watch list are junior centerfielder Dylan Crews, junior first baseman Tre’ Morgan, junior right-handed pitcher/utility player Paul Skenes and sophomore third baseman Tommy White. Crews, Skenes and White are previous Golden Spikes Award semifinalists. All-American right-handed pitcher Ben McDonald is LSU’s only Golden Spikes Award winner, capturing the trophy in 1989.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
• Western Michigan posted an 18-36 overall mark last season, and the Broncos were 15-24 in the Mid-American Conference.
• The Broncos are facing the country’s #1 ranked team for the first time since 2001. That season, WMU upset then top-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend, 7-6, on May 2.
• LSU is the first ranked opponent Western Michigan has faced since a three-game series at #3 Louisville early in the 2020 season. WMU’s last win over a ranked opponent was also against Louisville, as the Broncos topped the then seventh-ranked Cardinals, 4-2, on Feb. 23, 2014.
• The Broncos hit 57 home runs a season ago, their most since launching 59 in 2008 … WMU’s Dylan Nevar was named the MAC Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American … Nevar’s 20 doubles last year tied for second-most in a single season in program history.