McMullen always believed he’d be a Tiger and a key contributor. Now, LSU is benefiting from that faith.
He claims he’s 5-(foot)-10. That might be 5-10 with his batting helmet on. ... But he plays like he’s 6-3. He gets after it.” JOE SCHEUERMANN, Delgado coach
As the leadoff hitter for the LSU baseball team, Sean McMullen never waits long to step in the batter’s box.
But the junior from Metairie has never minded a wait.
After earning all-state honors at Brother Martin his senior year, McMullen was recruited by several colleges outside of the Southeastern Conference.
“I didn’t want to have to feel like I settled,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere I wanted to be, and I felt like the junior-college route could get me there.”
So McMullen spent two years playing for coach Joe Scheuermann at Delgado Community College, developing into a junior-college All-American and enhancing his status as a major-college prospect.
Now, he helps lead LSU into the College World Series.
Carrying a .317 average as LSU’s designated hitter, McMullen is expected back at full health after being slowed in the super regionals by a strained hamstring.
He brings speed on the bases and a left-handed bat to an LSU lineup that last year lacked both.
But he may not have made it to Baton Rouge if Scheuermann hadn’t convinced McMullen to give the junior-college route a try rather than hang up his cleats after high school.
“He basically said, ‘Coach, if I don’t go play Division I baseball, I’m not going to play. I’m just going to go to LSU and go to school,’ ” Scheuermann said, recalling his recruitment of him. “He had it pretty much set in his mind he wanted to go play in the SEC, especially at LSU, or he just wasn’t going to play anymore.”
Scheuermann figures McMullen’s size kept him from attracting the interest of major programs out of high school.
“He claims he’s 5-10,” Scheuermann said. “That might be 5-10 with his batting helmet on.”
“But,” the Delgado coach added, “he plays like he’s 6-3. He gets after it.”
McMullen showed that more than ever as he hit .452 at Delgado in 2012 with 21 doubles, nine triples and five homers. He scored 66 runs for the Dolphins and had a .525 on-base percentage.
Scheuermann figured McMullen would sign with Alabama after the Crimson Tide made a hard, steady push for him throughout the season. But after LSU began to pursue him, McMullen wasted little time making a commitment.
The chance to play every day for the Tigers would be another waiting game.
Competition for playing time in the LSU outfield included three more speedy young players who hit from the left side. McMullen got some chances in midweek games against right-handed pitchers but mostly bided his time as freshmen Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson and sophomore Chris Sciambra took their turns.
“When I wasn’t starting, in batting practice I was just trying to lock in and hit the ball hard and try to give coach (Paul Mainieri) a reason to let me play,” McMullen said.
With the Tigers struggling to identify a leadoff hitter six weeks into the season, Mainieri gave McMullen the chance to become his permanent solution.
He committed to batting McMullen leadoff, as the designated hitter, for all three games of the Kentucky series against the Wildcats’ stable of left-handed starting pitchers.
He went 4-for-8 with three doubles, scored five runs and drew three walks in the three games.
The job has been his ever since.
“Coach likes to give everybody chances, because he knows everyone on this team has a lot of talent,” McMullen said.
“He knows everyone can contribute. I think he wanted to find a way where I could contribute the most.”