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Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser is hoping his office can take ownership of the four confederate monuments that were taken down in New Orleans. Nungesser is meeting with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu today to try and come to an agreement. He says this is a fight for Louisiana’s history and culture.

“We’ve got so many historical sites, forts, and places around Louisiana that would love to have these displayed to teach people about the history of that era,” Nungesser said.

Nungesser is optimistic Landrieu will let the Office or Tourism, Recreation, and Culture take the monuments, as the mayor has said publicly that’s where they belong. He says it’s a sad day for Louisiana because we didn’t need this right now.

“We should be worried about fixing our streets, fixing the crime problem, educating our children. We’ve got other issues in Louisiana. This didn’t need to happen,” Nungesser said.

It’s unclear where the statues will go, but they could be rehomed in state parks or possibly a new museum. Nungesser is disappointed monuments to Louisiana’s history have been taken down, and he suspects the memorials to the confederate leaders won’t be the last to be removed.

“They will not rest until every name is changed that had anything to do with slavery. So I guess they’ll be going after the Washington Monument and tearing down the White House because it was built with slaves,” Nungesser said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The Click It or Ticket campaign kicks off today in Louisiana. State Police Sgt. Jared Sandifer says during this wave of enforcement, drivers can expect to see more officers on the road making sure that everyone is buckled up.

“People might start seeing seatbelt checkpoints pop up, and it’s all in the name of trying to keep people safe when they’re behind the wheel of that vehicle. We want to make sure that everybody stays buckled up every time,” Sandifer said.

Sandifer says not only is wearing your seatbelt the law, it could also save your life. He says your chances of being killed or sustaining bodily injury are greatly reduced if you buckle up.

“There’s no guarantee that a seatbelt is going to save your life in a crash, but it is the number one way that you can protect yourself while you’re driving that car,” Sandifer said.

Sandifer says it’s important for parents to make sure their kids are properly restrained as well. He says even though this campaign only runs through Memorial Day weekend, drivers and passengers must buckle up every time they get in a vehicle.

“We want people to make sure they put that seatbelt on no matter what seat you’re in in that car, be it the driver seat, passenger seat, the back seat. We want people to wear that seatbelt at all times,” Sandifer said.

 
 
 
 
 

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The peach harvest is extremely slim this year thanks to a warm winter. Owner of Mitcham Farms in Ruston, Joe Mitcham, says the crop needs a lot of cold hours, temperatures under 45 degrees for a majority of the winter in order for the fruit to properly develop.

“Normally, most of the varieties I have need anywhere from 850 to 1,000 chill hours and we only received a little less than 300.”

Mitcham says without enough chill hours, the leaves don’t fill out on the trees in turn, shedding fruit and the fruit actually produced is often misshaped and poor quality. He says a fungus in the soil is also killing many of his peach trees.


“It comes from oak trees, oak tree root fungus is the common name for it, and it’s present in the soil. It can last for 75 to 100 years, wherever oak trees used to grow.”

Mitcham says this fungus is slowly taking his orchard out and he is down to only 10-percent of the crop he originally had when he started his farm.

“It’s an ongoing problem. The trees are constantly dying and a lot of them, you don’t know until they come out in the spring and they’ve actually died over the winter months.”

 
 

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By Jeff Palermo 
LSU hitters were relentless on Saturday night as they banged out 14 hits in a 11-7 win over Mississippi State to complete the sweep of the Bulldogs.
 
For the second straight game, LSU drew double digit walks. They had 10 of them on Saturday.


Every Tiger in LSU's line-up had a hit, except Zach Watson. Cole Freeman led the way with three hits, including an RBI double in the 8th inning. After going 3-for-3, Freeman leads LSU in hitting with a .329 batting average.  
 
Beau Jordan hit his 3rd home run of the year and drove in two runs.
 
Jordan, Josh Smith, Kramer Robertson and Greg Deichmann each had two hits. Deichmann was walked 10 times during the three-game series.
 
Freshman Eric Walker started and allowed four runs in four innings. Nick Bush had a rough outing out of the bullpen as he allowed three runs in 1.1 innings.
 
Caleb Gilbert (3-1) was really good as he struck out four in 1.2 innings to get the victory.
 
Hunter Newman pitched two scoreless innings to finish out the game in a non-save situation. 
 
LSU ends the regular season with a 39-17 record, 21-9 in the SEC. The Tigers finish in a tie with Florida for first place and they'll share the regular season championship with the Gators.
 
It's the 17th league title in program history.  
 
They also finish out the year winning 11 of their last 12 SEC games. 
 
The Tigers will begin play in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday as a number two seed. They'll face either Missouri or Texas A&M at about 1 PM. Those two teams will meet in an elimination game on Tuesday. 

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By Jeff Palermo 
There are seven teams from Louisiana competing in conference tournaments this week. Highlighting the group is the LSU Tigers, who will be the #2 seed in the SEC Tournament and they'll play on Wednesday at around 1 PM.

LSU's opponent will be either Missouri or Texas A&M. Those two teams will play Tuesday in Hoover, Alabama. The Tigers have not played Mizzou this season and the Aggies took two of three from LSU earlier this season.  

There are three Louisiana schools that will compete in the Southland Tournament in Sugar Land, Texas. 2nd seeded Southeastern Louisiana will face 7th seeded UNO at noon on Wednesday. Top-seeded McNeese State will play Lamar. The Cowboys and Lions have a high enough RPI that they could make the NCAA Tournament, without winning the Southland tournament championship and receiving an automatic bid.
 
Louisiana Tech and UL Lafayette probably need to win a couple more games to make sure they get an invite. The Bulldogs will play Charlotte on Wednesday night in Biloxi. Charlottte won two of three from Tech earlier this season and the Diamond Dogs are coming off a disappointing series loss to Middle Tennessee. 
 
The Cajuns are the four-seed in the Sun Belt Tourney. UL-Lafayette will play Georgia Southern on Wednesday night. The Eagles defeated the Cajuns in a series in Lafayette two weeks ago.
 
Tulane is the 5th seed in the American Athletic Conference. They'll play South Florida in the championship opener on Tuesday afternoon in Clearwater, Florida.  
 
 

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Higher training standards for police officers have been approved by the full House. A proposal by Baton Rouge Representative Ted James would require officers to receive at least 400 hours of basic POST training before entering the field.

“Right now POST they’re about at 365, that’s their minimum. They’ve been meeting to increase those standards, and some police departments go over and above the 400 hours,” James said.

James says he’s worked with law enforcement around the state to come up with the best practices to prepare officers for work in the field. The measure also mandates 20 hours of additional training annually. He says his bill also requires more training in some key areas.

“It also adds to the curriculum certain practices as training for de-escalation, sudden in-custody death, crisis intervention training for peace officers,” James said.

James authored the measure after Alton Sterling, a black man, was killed in a confrontation with two white police officers outside a convenience store last July. He says that’s why his bill also includes training on bias policing recognition.

“There are certain instances where they feel that bias may come into play for officers or those that they encounter. So this will have our officers better equipped to handle those situations,” James said.

The measure passed on an 82-5 vote and heads to the Senate.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Senate President John Alario says the upper chamber is committed to fully funding the TOPS scholarship program. Alario says the House budget plan takes money away from the Department of Health to fully fund TOPS and they are taking a close look at that proposal.

“Two vital areas in the state that need adequate funding but I believe the Senate is going to do all it can to maintain the TOPS funding.”

Alario says tapping into $200 million that has yet to be allocated could reduce some cuts in multiple departments, as the House wants to only use 97.5% of what the Revenue Estimating Conference says is available. He is concerned the Department of Children and Family Services is not properly funded.

“What’s not funded now is adequate funds to go rescue children who are being abused in homes, foster children. To make sure that they are properly supervised.”

A measure filed by Baton Rouge Representative Franklin Foil would raise the GPA requirement from 2.5 to 2.75 and would save the state $17 million a year. Alario expects any changes to TOPS will be unsuccessful in the Senate. He says too many students rely on the program.

“Not every child is going to be an A student so we need to provide the opportunities for children to try to excel and move on, so I’m not sure raising the standards makes that much of a plus for us.”

 
 

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Three people were found dead in an Ascension Parish bayou by their own family member. State Trooper Bryan Lee says the family had not heard from 23-year-old Thomas Jones, 22-year-old Austin Kiernan, and 19-year-old Sydney Persac of St. Amant after they went out Wednesday night.

“Troopers were advised by family members that were out looking for the three that did not return home, and they located that vehicle submerged in a canal,” Lee said.

It’s believed the crash occurred in the early morning hours on Thursday, and the crash site was not discovered until just before midnight Thursday. Lee says when troopers arrived they discovered a grisly scene of the vehicle split in half by a tree.

“They were travelling northbound on US 61 when for unknown reasons they ran off the roadway, and the vehicle became airborne and struck a tree, which caused it to split in half,” Lee said.

Lee says this was a gruesome discovery for a family member to make, as the bodies of all three victims were found outside the vehicle. He says the investigation is ongoing, and troopers still have a lot of unanswered questions in this case.

“We have not yet determined who was actually driving this vehicle. We also don’t know at this time if they were restrained or if impairment was possibly a factor,” Lee said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Louisiana Congressman Garret Graves calls the investigation into the connection between President Donald Trump and Russia during the election a total distraction. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been hired to look into claims that Mr. Trump and Russia somehow teamed up to help sway the vote in November. Graves says this is the 4th probe underway.

“We haven’t seen anything that’s a smoking gun. I think you bring in a special prosecutor when you have smoke, when you’ve found things that appear to be problematic,” Graves said.

There are reports that President Trump asked now-fired FBI Director James Comey to stop looking into the matter, which Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond says qualifies as obstruction of justice. The President has called this a witch hunt, which Graves feels isn’t too far off the mark because past administrations weren’t treated this way.

“Bottom line is, go ahead and get an independent investigator, go ahead and look through all this stuff, get this distraction out of the way, and let us do our jobs,” Graves said.

Graves says he’s not going to prejudge whether Mueller is going to find anything of substance.

“Certainly they’re not going to leave any stone unturned, but it’s getting frustrating being distracted by the news media’s stories every day about new allegations, many of which have never been substantiated,” Graves said.

 
 
 
 
 

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Former and current Saints players will participate in a weekend of fishing, shooting and entertainment at the Black and Gold Classic in Grand Isle. Former Saints tackle Stan Brock hosts the event and says today teams will participate in a private shooting event and tomorrow the fishing rodeo begins at 6 a.m. He says all the proceeds go to the Green Beret Foundation and All American Caliber, groups which support veterans.

“I believe that if it wasn’t for those young men and women protecting our freedom that we wouldn’t be able to do any of these things so I think it’s kind of a fun way to raise some money for them.”

Zach Strief and other current players will also be present at the rodeo. Brock says the public is welcome to participate in the speckled trout and redfish rodeo at Bridgeside Marina and each team will be partnered with a Saints legend.


“We have prizes and we do raffles and Saturday night we have a big concert, we have a local band from the island called Butter.”

Brock says tickets are 30 bucks to enter the fishing rodeo and 10 to enter the concert. He says this is a great way to raise money for the people who sacrifice so much for our freedom.

“To understand what these guys go through and the commitment that they’ve made to protect our freedom, I think the very least I that I can do is try and pull together some of my buddies and have a good time.”

To enter in the rodeo visit blackandgoldclassic.com/Louisiana/registration.

 

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By Jeff Palermo
LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange made one bad pitch. That was to the first man he faced in Thursday's SEC series opener with Mississippi State. After giving up the long ball, Lange put together his third straight dominant performance in a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs. 

Lange tossed seven strong innings, allowing six hits, five walks, but he struck out 11. He's now 7-5 with a 2.68 ERA. 
 
Twice, the junior right-hander had the bases loaded, but both times he was able to wiggle out of those jams without giving up a run. His last pitch resulted in a strikeout with the bases loaded in the 7th inning.
 
This season, hitters are 0-for-17 with 12 strike outs when the bases are loaded against Lange.  
 
Mississippi State left a dozen runners on base on the night.  
 
Ryan Gridley's home run in the 1st inning made it 1-0. LSU took the lead in the 4th inning. Josh Smith had a sacrifice fly for an RBI and Zach Watson singled another run home to make it 2-1.
 
LSU added an insurance run in the 8th inning, as Watson drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
 
The Tigers bullpen was very good as well. Zach Hess pitched a clean inning in the 8th inning and Hunter Newman earned his 9th save.
 
The win gives LSU a 19-9 record in the SEC. They are in a three-way tie with Kentucky and Florida for first place in the overall standings. The Wildcats devoured the Gators 12-4 on Thursday night.
 
LSU can clinch the SEC West with a win on Friday over the Bulldogs. Senior lefty Jared Poche starts for the Tigers. He's 8-3 with a 3.16 ERA. Freshman right-hander Denver McQuary will start for the Bulldogs. He's 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA, with 32 walks and 31 strikeouts.
 
First pitch is at 6:30.  
 
 

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The Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association supports proposed changes to the state’s film tax credit program. A Senate-approved measure would place a front-end cap on the program, as opposed to the back-end cap enacted in 2015. LFEA president Robert Vosbein says the bill also reserves 10% of the available credits for Louisiana filmmakers.

“We want our young people to stay here. So to have that extra incentive for the indigenous filmmaker is a great asset that we think will really help us develop the program,” Vosbein said.

Vosbein hopes this will bring back some of the filmmakers who left for other states because of the uncertainty surrounding the program. The measure would sunset the program after 8 years if the industry can’t prove its value. But he says industry leaders aren’t worried.

“We think that over that period of time we’ll be able to build the infrastructure and build the indigenous crew base and that we’ll be able to show the legislature at that time the program is worth keeping,” Vosbein said.

Vosbein says this bill is a collaborative effort among the film industry, lawmakers, and Louisiana Economic Development to fix what was broken two years ago. He says there’s even incentives to get producers outside of the Big Easy.

“There’s a bonus, if you will, for productions that are outside of New Orleans. We’re trying to spread that around geographically in the state,” Vosbein said.

The bill was approved 33-3 in the Senate. Its next hearing will be in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 
 
 
 
 

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Two arrests have been made after a 7-year-old at Moss Bluff Elementary School was accidentally shot when a child brought a gun to school. Authorities say the gun fell out of the child’s backpack, and another child picked it up causing it to fire, hitting another student.

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso says the brother and father of the child who had the gun have been arrested.

“The father gives the 17-year-old a gun for protection, and lets him keep it in an unsecure location in the house,” Mancuso said.

The father, 50-year-old Michael Lane Dugas, is charged with negligent injury and improper supervision of a minor. The brother, 17-year-old Jake Adam Dugas, is charged with negligent injury. Mancuso says the gun was kept just four feet off the ground in a shoe organizer hanging on the wall of the bedroom the boys shared.

“When there was a gun safe just feet away in a closet, a fireproof gun safe that could have been used to secure this weapon. So it is our opinion that a crime was committed,” Mancuso said.

Mancuso says the actions of the child’s father and brother were the cause of the accident, not the young boy. Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier says gun owners must store their weapons out of the reach of small children. He says we’re very lucky that the child injured in this case was not killed.

“We have a young child that could have easily lost his life, who’s upset a number a families, everybody at the school. We need to be sure that we secure firearms in places that cannot be accessed by children,” DeRosier said.

The child who was shot underwent surgery Monday and continues to recover.

 
 
 
 
 

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A measure that would prohibit public universities from having their name or images to market alcoholic beverages was voluntarily deferred in the House Education Committee. Shreveport Representative Cedric Glover filed this bill because he believes LSU and UL-Lafayette licensed “official” beers promote underage drinkings.

“Those are intended to be intoxicating, to have the intended effect that if you drink more than two or three you will get a buzz. If you drink a six pack, you’ll get drunk, if you drink a 12 pack, you’ll get sick.”

UL-Lafayette has Ragin Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale, while the LSU beer is “Bayou Bengal Lager.” But Hammond Representative Chris Broadwater says given the massive cuts to higher education, schools need this opportunity to generate funds.

“We can also do harm to the youth of our state by not providing these schools every opportunity to have sufficient funding to provide the quality of education we want for our kids.”

Stephanie Knott with Bayou Teche Brewing spoke out in opposition of the measure, discussing the brewery’s partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“And it would be devastating to our business if we couldn’t continue to make this brand. We’ve worked for almost two years to help grow the brand, marketing. We’ve made investment in building and equipment.”

 
 

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A measure that would penalize adults if they let a child who is 12 years old or younger handle a fully automatic weapon passed out of the House Criminal Justice Committee on a 7 to 6 vote. Shreveport Representative Barbara Norton says she brought forth this bill after a nine year old girl accidentally shot and killed her instructor with an Uzi submachine gun in Arizona.

“There are an estimated 110 unintentional firearms deaths to children from 0-14 years old, annually here in the United States.”

The bill would subject adults to a fine if they violate the proposed law. Norton says she is pro-gun and supports children of a proper age learning the correct way to shoot guns. She says she filed this measure strictly for the safety of young children too small to operate these weapons.

“I know that there are many of you up there who probably shoot guns every day, every week but because of your weight and because of your understanding, you’re able to do whatever it is that you choose with that gun.”

But Prairieville Representative Tony Bacala says this measure subjects gun collectors to a fine.

“Some 12 year old child comes along and says can I see that and he pulls it out of the gun case and just lets the kid hold it, under supervision, not loaded or anything, he’s now subjected himself to a $1,000 fine.”

 
 

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A bill to regulate Uber and Lyft statewide is heading to the Senate. Jackson Representative Kenny Havard says these ride sharing services keep people safe, offers an affordable ride, and provides thousands of employment opportunities. He says very rarely do lawmakers get a chance to do something that really affects people’s lives.

“This in no uncertain terms will give us that opportunity because we know if we can keep people off the streets drinking and driving, it reduces fatal accidents,” Havard said.

The measure would establish a blanket set of regulations and collect a fee of one percent, ending various deals some local municipalities have with the companies. New Orleans has one such agreement in which the city charges riders a 50 cent fee. New Orleans Representative Gary Carter was upset this bill would supersede that arrangement.

“I don’t think any private company should be able to go to any parish of this state, negotiate a deal, and then try to get out of it at the state level,” Carter said.

Carter says New Orleans would lose $2 million if this bill threw out the city’s deal with Uber. But Monroe Representative Jay Morris says the Big Easy is charging riders the highest fee in the country. He says the City of New Orleans used Uber’s desire to move into the city to get the most money possible out of the business.

“The city of New Orleans is indirectly gouging $2 million a year out of consumers that are using Uber in the city,” Morris said.

Carter’s amendment to maintain local arrangements was rejected, and the bill passed on a 79-12 vote.

 
 
 
 
 

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Louisiana’s LGBT community would be protected from workplace discrimination under a proposal heading to the Senate floor. New Orleans Senator Troy Carter’s bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in state laws. He says as an African American man, he hasn’t always been protected from discrimination under the law.

“It doesn’t mean that that person won’t still have to face the level of discrimination and ugliness that this world has to offer, but what it does say is that we don’t like it and the law won’t allow it,” Carter said.

Dylan Waguespack with Louisiana Trans Advocates testified in support of the measure and telling committee members that he’s transgender. He says it’s something that, until now, he’s chosen not to share with his colleagues at the Capitol for fear of facing discrimination. He says something has to be done to protect people like him in the workplace.

“I’ve heard conversations in hallways between people who work in this building that have conveyed at best apathy for the discrimination and fear that people in my community face and at worst contempt and disgust,” Waguespack said.

Dr. Will Hall with the Louisiana Baptist Office of Public Policy opposes the bill. He says Attorney General Jeff Landry has already ruled it illegal to add a new protective class that’s not defined under the law. He notes this bill would also go against the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

“Sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable. So the idea that gender identity brings with it that it’s fluid would actually undermine what has been decided by the US Supreme Court as immutable,” Hall said.

The measure was approved in the Senate Labor Committee on a 3 to 1 vote.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry did not take a stand after helping to kill the bill on the Senate floor last year. 
 
 
 
 
 

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A Senate-approved bill seeks to revamp the state’s film tax credit program. The proposal by New Orleans Senator JP Morell would place a $180 million front-end cap on the program for the next three years and then the cap goes down to $150 million. He says if the legislature chooses not to renew the program, it would go away. 

“If this bill does not pass, the cap falls off of this program. Two, this program is currently not sunsetted, I sunset it,” Morrell said.

Some lawmakers have been hesitant about the return on investment from the program, including Metairie Senator Conrad Appel. He says the state can’t afford to fund TOPS, and we shouldn’t give away millions of dollars to the film industry.

“For every dollar we contribute to having people from Hollywood come here, we lose 78 cents on that dollar,” Appel said.

Morell seeks to ease some of those concerns by sun setting the program after 8 years, if no action is taken.

“As a program if we do nothing else, if it is unable to prove that its ROI is beneficial to the state, there is now a process where the program will no longer exist,” Morrell said.

The bill would also ensure that 10 percent of the available credits are reserved for local Louisiana filmmakers. The measure was approved on a 33 to 3 vote and heads to House Ways and Mean.

It has the support of the Louisiana film industry.  
 
 
 
 

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U.S. Senator John Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor touting a Medicaid reform bill that he has filed. Kennedy says it would require adults ages 18 to 55, that have no dependents and are not disabled, to work 20 hours a week, go to school or do community service to receive Medicaid.

“If the American people in Congress decide that Medicaid is going to be a health insurance program for the general population, then it needs to operate like health insurance does in the private sector.”

Kennedy says he filed The Medicaid Reform and Personal Responsibility Act of 2017 as not an attempt to take Medicaid away from people in need but so fewer people need Medicaid.

“I don’t want our people to remain mired in poverty. I want to break poverty’s back by creating a system that doesn’t force the American people to subsist on handouts from government.”

Kennedy says requiring 20 hours of schooling or work provides an incentive for able bodied Americans to know the dignity of work. He says a person without a job is neither happy nor free.

“My goal is to get people off Medicaid, into the workforce, support themselves and not need Medicaid.”

 
 

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By Jeff Palermo 
5th ranked LSU Tigers and 9th ranked Mississippi State meet for the final regular season series of the year and they'll battle for the SEC West title. The Tigers are 18-9 in the SEC, while the Bulldogs are 17-10 in league play.
 
LSU arrives in Starkville playing its best baseball of the season, winning 8 of its last 9 SEC games.


Mississippi State has lost 5 of its last 8 SEC games. But they feature the best hitter in the league. Brent Rooker leads the SEC in several hitting categories, a .406 batting average, 26 doubles, 20 home runs and 71 RBI.
 
LSU also features a great power hitter in Greg Deichmann, who slugged his 17th home run of the season in a 9-3 win over Northwestern State.
 
As a team, the Tigers are hitting .292, while the Bulldogs are hitting .287. LSU has scored 347 runs to Mississippi State's 310. The Tigers have hit one more home run, 48-47. The Bulldogs have the edge in stolen bases 66-58.
 
LSU has the advantage in starting pitchers. Alex Lange, Jared Poche and Eric Walker were sensational for the Tigers last week. Mississippi State has only one pitcher who has started every weekend and that's Konnor Pilkington. who will start on Thursday. He's 6-4 with a 3.44 ERA.
 
Freshman right-hander Denver McQuary will start on Friday for the Bulldogs. He's 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA has walked more hitters than he has struck out, 32-31.
 
Mississippi State has not named a starter for the series finale on Saturday.
 
Spencer Price has been good as a closer. He's saved 14 games with a 3-1 record and 2.28 ERA. State is 11-5 in one-run games.
 
The added spice to this series is the head coaches. Andy Cannizaro is the head coach of Mississippi State after spending the last two seasons as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Tigers.
 
LSU's Paul Mainieri was not happy that State AD John Cohen spoke to Cannizaro, before contacting him, but such is life in college athletics.
 
Game 1 is Thursday at 6 PM.
Game 2 is Friday at 6:30.
Game 3 is Saturday at 3:30. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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