Chris Cotton Eager for Start of 2013 Season
It's a warm Louisiana summer night at Alex Box Stadium. Fans are on the edge of their seats as the Tigers and Oregon State Beavers battle back and forth in the 2012 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
With the winning Beaver run standing at second base in the bottom of the ninth inning, Chris Cotton toes the rubber for the Tigers. Both dugouts can feel the tension in the air. However, these are the moments in which Cotton thrives.
"I think my best characteristic is I'm able to keep my cool," Cotton said. "I don't let that pressure get under my skin."
On this night, Cotton would do just that. Cotton recorded a strikeout and a fly out in the final two at-bats of the inning, propelling the Tigers to a 6-5 Regional-clinching victory.
Throughout the 2012 season, Cotton quickly became accustomed to pitching in intense moments. The left-handed reliever finished the season at 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 45.1 innings of work. In addition, Cotton limited opposing left-handed hitters to a .100 average.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Cotton said. "I wasn't trying to overpower somebody and be somebody I wasn't."
Entering his senior season, Cotton's skills on the baseball diamond are unmistakable. However, there was a time when he considered stepping away from the game.
"At first I came to LSU just for school," Cotton said. "But then I decided to try out and I ended up making the team. It was a dream come true and it still is."
Before his freshman season, Cotton considered playing baseball at other schools. However, the Shreveport native knew there was only one place for him. Cotton's father, Jim, and his brother, Kyle, graduated from LSU. Cotton favored walking-on at LSU over scholarship offers from other schools.
"I grew up watching LSU baseball and football games," Cotton said. "I grew up loving the college. Nothing can compare to LSU."
Chris Cotton isn't one of the hardest throwers on the Tiger pitching staff. His pitches do not typically light up radar guns. However, his control is nearly impeccable. In 2012 Cotton finished with a 5.71-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.
Before his career at LSU, Cotton idolized a Major League Baseball pitcher with a similar skill set - Greg Maddux.
"(Maddux) didn't throw that hard," Cotton said. "He spotted up and did the job. That's something that I admired because he's like me. I don't throw the hardest, but I thought if he can do it in the big leagues, I could try it in college."
After a long offseason, Cotton is excited to take the mound again for LSU. He believes the 2013 Tigers share a special bond with one another.
"I think we are all connected, and all looking for the same goal," Cotton said. "Everybody is going to stick together and make that push. I think it's going to work out like we want it to."
Cotton will try to forget about the way last season came to an end - the Tigers fell one win shy of reaching the College World Series - and turn the page on a new season.
"I really don't like to think of last year and use that as motivation," Cotton said. "I like to just go into each game. Every game means something. It was a tough loss, but we have to move forward."
This month, Cotton and the LSU Baseball team will embark on the 2013 season in search of a new beginning. Cotton believes there is no better place to do that than Alex Box Stadium.
"It's good to play in front of this crowd in the best stadium in the nation," Cotton said. "These are the best fans in college sports. They all know the game and they know what's going on. It's an honor to be able to play at LSU, and play in front of these fans."