For senior Chris Cotton, the 2013 season will be one that will stick in his mind for years to come. The 5-10 166 pound Cotton is coming off of a 2012 season in which he went 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 45.1 innings of work. Cotton, by all accounts, is looking to have a similar season in 2013.
Cotton, a left-handed pitcher, is one of the more interesting stories on the 2013 LSU Baseball roster. Coming out of Byrd High School (Shreveport, La.), Cotton was not highly recruited and elected to participate in walk-on tryouts during the fall of 2009. Cotton was eventually added to the roster before the 2010 season began, and it has been a great ride for him ever since.
“It’s been a dream come true to play here,” said Cotton. “Four years ago, I never would have thought I’d be in the position to have to deal with my fourth, and final, season opener.”
“It’s been awesome. Hopefully, this year will just cap it all off by winning the last weekend and making it to Omaha. I think we will, but it will take some work to get there.”
With his final season of college baseball quickly approaching, Cotton explained that he has mixed feelings about 2013, and the eventual end of his eligibility. However, he is more than ready for it to begin.
“It’s definitely bitter sweet that my eligibility is coming to an end,” Cotton told TSD. “It’s been a great four years of baseball and getting to meet new guys and teammates. But, everything has to come to an end this last year. I’m excited to get that last season underway.”
“We are all anticipating the game because we are all sick of throwing to each other and hitting off of the same pitchers. I’m ready to face some other teams and get this final season underway.”
The journey from walk-on to potential starter in the SEC is still quite surprising to Cotton. Following his excellent 2012 season, Cotton explained that he has been working hard to be ready for the grind that the 2013 season will present.
“From starting at Byrd High School and not really getting looked at, I never would have believed I would have had a year like last year,” said Cotton. “It’s surprising, given that I was a walk-on not long ago. I’ve been working hard since last season ended and I’ll be ready to go this year.”
Because hard work is something that Cotton is known for, he loves to lead by example. Being a leader at LSU is something that Cotton has looked forward to since he first put on a Tiger uniform. Now, he finally gets that chance.
“I like to lead by example,” said Cotton. “I love to put in the hard work and go out there every day to fight for my position and my role on the team. I feel like the younger guys will look up to that if I keep that up. I look forward to being one of the leaders here.”
Coach Paul Mainieri said today that Cotton would serve in somewhat of a hybrid role during the 2013 season, with the hope being that Cotton can fit into the role of the third starter in the pitching rotation.
Getting the opportunity to start in the SEC is something that Cotton never expected would happen, but the reality is now starting to sink in.
“I’ve never thought about being a starter at LSU,” said Cotton. “It would be crazy for me to get that start this opening weekend. At the same time, I’m going to be ready for whatever situation I’m needed in. I’ll be ready to answer the call.”
“I’m just taking it all step by step. Whenever he tells me to warm up, I’m going to be ready for it, no matter what the situation is.”
While Cotton has a lot to look forward to in 2013, he still realizes that this season marks the end of a great run that was full of memories at LSU. Even though he has his fair share of memories, Cotton explained that the final weekend of 2012 was his most memorable moment at this point in his career.
“It’s hard to answer that question,” said Cotton. “But, if I had to pick one favorite moment it would probably be the super-regional last year. Even though it wasn’t what we wanted to happen, the crowd and the intensity were great.”
“Just driving up to the field and seeing everybody tail gaiting like a football game was really cool. It’s awesome to have the fans that we do and come out to this park and play baseball.”