Lange Takes the Mound to Start 2017 Season
Communications Student Assistant
For junior pitcher Alex Lange and the Tigers, the 2016 baseball season ended too soon. The loss against the Coastal Carolina in the Super Regionals abruptly halted the team’s trek to Omaha. However, the burning memory reinforces the determined Tigers’ vigor and intense desire to return to the College World Series.
The Tigers do not shy away from their goal to become the 2017 National Champions. Lange is clear, “I’ll know it’s a good year when we’re on the plane coming back from Omaha, June 27th with that trophy.”
As one of the best pitchers in the nation, Lange, a right-hander from Lee’s Summit, Mo., has a 20-4 career record at LSU. He achieved a career-high 13 strikeouts in two games (vs. Kentucky and Ole Miss) his freshman season and was awarded multiple honors including 2015 National Freshman Pitcher of the Year, 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year and 2015 First-Team All-American.
In 2016, Lange enjoyed continued success with an outstanding performance in the postseason, as he was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team.
With an impressive resume, Lange still seeks to improve upon his skills. After ardent repetition, Lange has grown comfortable and confident with his delivery, explaining that once this is accomplished, “it’s pretty easy to get in that groove [and] everything else starts to fall in place.”
During the Tigers’ offseason, he focused on his fastball command and mastering his changeup. Physically, he worked to get stronger and leaner to put himself in the best position to succeed. Lange feels as if he’s done both, “I really was able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.”
In the summer of 2016, Lange was honored to be chosen as member of the USA baseball team. Here, he expanded his skills beyond the physical aspects of the game. In “one of the best experiences of [his] life,” he was exposed to the different cultures and styles of baseball.
Lange relished this experience he shared with other high-caliber athletes, “guys that are going to do some things in the big leagues” from every corner of the country. He diligently studied his teammates’ styles, approaches, and skills to expand his baseball maturity. Lange explains, “having those conversations with guys really helped me to say, ‘Okay what would I do in this situation?’”
As a 6-3, 199-pound figure on the mound, Lange’s presence is commanding. The raw power and skill demonstrated with a precisely thrown fastball in the low 90s is intimidating. However, Alan Dunn, the Tigers’ pitching coach known as “A.D.” to the players, is quick to point out that while these traits are obviously special, it is Lange’s makeup that distinguishes him.
Dunn says it is “his demeanor on the mound, his desire to get the guy out worse than that guy has to get a hit off him. That’s something that’s intestinal fortitude that just makes him different.”
On Lange’s day to take the mound, his determination and focus are apparent to everyone in the clubhouse. Coach Paul Mainieri jokes that it is almost like Lange growls at him. Lange responds that he may have to start actually growling at him. Joking aside, Lange is passionate about his role and takes his job very seriously.
“Everything is regimented” to ensure Lange is “locked in” by the time he arrives at the field. Lange’s dedication to the game is unmistakable as the process of preparing to pitch is “an obsession of [his].”
With the pitcher’s established record, impressive skill set, and unwavering dedication, it is no surprise that chatter of the MLB draft surrounds his name. For some players, this could be distracting, but Lange’s focus is resolute. He admits that sure, he “do[es] think about it.”
But pushing it out of his mind is easy as he explains, “because I love playing here. I love putting on the purple and gold every day and coming out here with A.D., all the guys and Coach Mainieri.”
As a junior, Lange is a decorated collegiate athlete. His powerful skills, work ethic, and pure love of the game may provide him a bright future in the game of baseball. However, no matter what the future holds, Lange is already living out a dream. He says, “this is all I’ve ever wanted to do is play baseball at LSU. This is the greatest experience.”