Antoine Duplantis soaking up every moment as Senior Night approaches
As Antoine Duplantis approaches the baseball fused black gates of Alex Box each day, he does so at a slow, meticulous pace.
He walks past the halls of the training facility where baseball helmets with every MLB team and the current LSU players in those organizations grace the walls, and enters the team locker room to get ready for another day of practice.
It’s an intentional maneuver the senior has been doing for the past month of the regular season because he knows better than anyone, that Father Time is a shrewd operator.
As LSU gears up to play its final regular season series against Auburn, Duplantis is aware that it could be the final times he walks through those halls or steps up to the plate with that toe-tapping “My Type” walk-up song blaring over the Box stereos.
It’s not the goal of course, and as of now LSU’s season at home is expected to last past the regular season as the Tigers were recently selected as regional hosts in two separate mock selections.
Yet it’s something the senior simply can’t help as he’s built one of the most impressive resumes by an LSU player over his four year career.
“I’m just trying to savor every moment of it,” Duplantis said. “I feel like when I’m walking up to the park I’m just taking in every last moment of it but obviously when game time starts my mind focuses to winning and what I can do to help us win.”
Duplantis’ resume stems from four years of some of the most consistent hitting to ever grace the Tiger program. A .322 career batting average, 204 RBI and of course the 337 hits that only trail Eddy Furniss’ 352 for most in LSU history.
The fondest memory for Duplantis over the four years is sealing a trip to Omaha in 2017, where the Tigers knocked off Mississippi State in a thrilling series that waned into the early hours of Monday morning.
“It ended so late and they had the tarp pulled on the field and we were celebrating in the locker room,” Duplantis said. “I just remember we ran out and started sliding on the tarp so it was a pretty special moment for us.”
Duplantis sees similarities between the 2017 Omaha team and the current 2019 squad, most notably how both were preseason favorites to go deep in the NCAA tournament but various struggles along the way left doubt in many people’s minds. The 2017 team went 10-8 in the SEC the first six weeks before going on a typical late season run that ultimately helped them become a national seed.
While a national seed is out of the question in 2019, Duplantis said the Tigers always seem to get hot at this time of the year and is hoping for a similar outcome as this season closes.
“Just at any point it can turn around like that and hopefully it starts this weekend for us,” Duplantis said.
For coach Paul Mainieri, the moment is always bittersweet when he has to say goodbye to a player, particularly one of Duplantis’ stature and who has built a lasting legacy with the program.
With Senior Night coming on Saturday, Mainieri will be honoring Duplantis, second baseman Brandt Broussard, infielder Chris Reid and pitchers Clay Moffitt and Caleb Gilbert. While the evening promises to be an emotional one for all players and coaches involved, Mainieri did joke with Duplantis that he doesn’t think it will be his final weekend to play in front of the Alex Box faithful.
“Senior day is always a tough day because you always feel like the kids are up at the batter’s box with tears in their eyes,” Mainieri said. “It’s an emotional thing when you put so much time in something and then it comes to an end. Nobody can look in a crystal ball and see what’s going to happen but you just take them one day at a time.”
Whether this is the last weekend Duplantis will get to trot out to right field or not, the senior hopes his legacy will be that he left everything he had on the field.
“Just a guy who went out there and played hard every day and try to help the team win,” Duplantis said. “I don’t want to be somebody who was thought of as a selfish guy who didn’t lay it all out there.”