After completion of autographs a buffet meal was served. During and toward the end of the meal, many sponsors and instrumental people were recognized. After the meal was served, Coach Paul Mainieri then addressed the audience. His comments were stimulating and informative. After previous comments about many aspects of the LSU baseball program and the 2008 team, Coach Mainieri re-emphasized many of these points. He reiterated that his team struggled in the first half of the season, although he still felt that they were playing well. With four weeks remaining in the regular season, LSU was 23-16-1 overall and in 11th place in the overall SEC standings, with a 6-11-1 record. It was at this time that Coach Mainieri stated that he told the team to continue playing hard and that good things would happen. He stated his team never gave up and continued to play hard. The Tigers then posted a conference record 23-game win streak that saw LSU claim the SEC Western Division title, the SEC tournament championship, and the NCAA Baton Rouge regional championship. LSU's 23-game surge ended with a loss to UC Irvine in game 1 of the NCAA Baton Rouge Super Regional, but the Tigers won the next two games to advance to the College World Series for the 14th time in school history and for the first time since 2004.
Coach Mainieri emphasizes academic achievement in the classroom. Fourteen LSU baseball players, the most in the program's history, were named to the 2008 Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. The previous high for the LSU baseball team was 12 players established in 2004 and 2005. The 2008 team's cumulative GPA for the spring semester was 2.89, the highest figure in LSU baseball history, and the cumulative GPA for the entire 2007-2008 academic year was 2.83, also the highest ever recorded by the baseball program. Coach Mainieri went on to emphasize that the LSU baseball Tigers of 2008 logged 345 hours of community service work, the most by any of the LSU men's sports programs during the 2007-2008 academic year. Coach Mainieri has established an active community service function in the baseball program, as the LSU Tigers regularly visit hospitals and schools in the Baton Rouge area.
Coach Mainieri stated that his team many times came back from deficits in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings in many games. This indeed was a team that never gave up and won many, many games in the 8th and 9th innings. He was absolutely astounded by the 9th inning of the second game of the Super Regional and the 1st inning of the final game prior to going to the College World Series. Coach Mainieri stated that the LSU fans that pack Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge are the best in the country. He also stated that the LSU baseball program is the best in the country due to such events that are held in Amite with many people's financial support of the program. He stated that this happens nowhere else in the country. Coach Mainieri encouraged the audience to attend as many games as possible at the new Alex Box Stadium.
Prior to the end of the presentation, Coach Mainieri introduced his two senior pitchers, Louis Coleman and Nolan Cain. He stated that in the second half of the 2009 season Louis Coleman was probably the most dominant pitcher in College baseball.
Coach Mainieri's record for two seasons as LSU head coach is 78-45-2, or a 0.632 winning percentage. He was also named the 2008 National Coach of the Year for directing LSU to a 49-19-1 overall record and the Tigers' first College World Series berth since 2004. The LSU Tigers won 26 of their final 29 games during a remarkable late season surge. Also, the 2009 LSU baseball team is ranked #1 in one college baseball poll and #2 in the other. This indeed is a tribute to Coach Mainieri as he took over a team two years ago that was unranked and for the first time in many years did not host Baton Rouge Regional.
After Coach Mainieri's address, Dr. Reggie Goldsby presented two keys to the city to Dr. Joseph Cefalu and Dean Napoli, two well deserving people who have been big LSU baseball supporters and very instrumental in making this fund raising event a success for the 11th straight year. Shortly after Coach Mainieri was presented with a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. After further autographs by Coach Mainieri and the two players, the event was ended. Approximately $9,000 was raised for the LSU Baseball Program.
I would like to thank the following sponsors for making this event possible:
Dr. Joseph Cefalu; Mitchell's Glass/A-1 Tire; Clay Monroe, Attorney; Connie's Impressions; Russell Breckenridge, Attorney; Richard McShan, Attorney; Hometown Farm and Garden; Rehabilitation and Sports Care Center; Sonya Castella Bradley, Attorney; McKneely Funeral Home; Primecare Home Health; Hood Automotive; State Farm / Robbie Lee, Agent; La Carreta of Amite; Thompson's Alignment Center, Inc.; Vital Link Health Care Services; Drive-In Drug Store; Brian and Ann Kay Logarbo; The Bond Eye Clinic; Thrift Town Pharmacy; Michael Hingle and Associates, LLC; E. Eric Guirard, Attorney; Erik M. Tadda, Attorney; General Acceptance Corporation; Trabona's IGA; Scios; Dr. Margie Stron; Lanny W. Murrell, Jeweler Wayne Murrell; Hutchinson Veterinary Clinic, Glenn and Lana Hutchinson; and McKneely and Vaughn Funeral Home.