One game at a time is the message the LSU Tigers are taking into the start of the 2018 season.
Sophomore outfielder Zach Watson is ready to put last season behind and begin to mold the Tigers into champions again.
“Last year is in the past, you can’t think about it too much,” Watson said. “It’s a new year and a new season, batting averages are gone everything. We gotta take everything one game at a time and not think too far in advance.”
Watson locked down his starting role in centerfield nearly a third of the way through his freshman season.
Despite missing a large chunk of the season, Watson was named a Freshman All-American by multiple media outlets including Perfect Game and Baseball America. Watson led the the Tigers with a .317 batting average, hitting nine homeruns and 37 RBIs.
Watson’s top notch speed and quick bat allowed him to thrive as a rookie where he quickly became one of LSU’s most complete players.
The sensational season by Watson has put a proverbial target on his back to every team on LSU’s schedule. Watson is going to see every pitchers’ best stuff, but if he can continue to find a way to adapt his approach he will see success.
“I think I’ll see more curveballs this year a lot more stuff that’s out over the plate that’s on the other side,” Watson said. “It's gonna be harder to hit and it’ll be a little tougher and I’ll have to adjust to it.”
Watson is projected to bat in the two hole this season and help jumpstart the top of LSU’s lineup.
The Tigers lost 17 players from last year's team, losing a significant amount of home run power. Even with the loss of nearly 40 home runs from last years team, coach Paul Mainieri is confident Watson can bring power to the lineup.
“There’s still going to be power there,” Mainieri said. “Zach Watson has a chance. He didn’t get there until a third of the way through the season, and he hit some big home runs for us.”
With only four returning starters in the lineup, Watson and the Tigers will have to find ways to adapt and keep pushing the younger players throughout the season.
Emerging as an returner in the lineup has allowed Watson to become a leader for the team and is something that he says he has come to enjoy.
“To be one of those older guys and help these younger guys it’s a privilege to me,” Watson said. “I’ve liked doing it and I like being a leader for this team and I think it’s gonna be a good year.”
Watson was recently named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list which names the nations best player at the end of the season. The honor comes after Watson was named America’s No.1 Pro Prospect in last summer's Prospect League.
With so many new faces added to LSU’s lineup Watson needs to excel just like he did as a freshman.
With the start of the LSU season this Friday it’ll be key to not only watch Watson’s lightning quick bat and game-changing speed, but to see how he can help lead this young team back to Omaha.