Q & A with Da Boot Sports!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Cole Freeman grew up in Mandeville, LA and attended Lakeshore High School where he excelled in baseball earning All-State and All-District honors. He also was a three-year All-District performer for the basketball team as a point guard.
He would move on to play second base for Delgado CC, earning NJCAA All-American and Gold Glove honors in 2015. ...
At LSU he was a superb player, who started at second baseman for two seasons (2016 and 2017).
He is known for his all-out hustling style of play, great infield defense, outstanding speed on the bases, and excellent hitting ability. His bunting and base-stealing ability would put pressure on opposing team's defense. Freeman always seemed to make the big defensive play at the right time.
He was named a Cape Cod League All-Star in the summer of 2016 while playing for the Wareham (Mass.) Gatemen, while also winning the 2016 Cape Cod League batting title.
He was a member of the 2016 and 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll.
In the 2017 MLB draft, he was selected in the fourth round by the Washington Nationals. He is currently playing for the Harrisburg Senators in the "AA" Eastern League.
Q - Favorite Color?
Cole - Blue
Q - Favorite Food?
Cole - Crabs
Q - Favorite Pro Athlete?
Cole - Sammy Sosa
Q - Favorite Music Artist?
Cole - Mike Stud
Q - Favorite Movie?
Cole - Step Brothers
Q - Favorite Actor?
Cole - Mark Wahlberg
Q - Favorite Sports Team?
Cole - LSU & New Orleans Saints
Q - Where did you grow up?
Cole - Mandeville. I was born in Metairie, then moved to the north shore when I was four years old.
Q - What were your two favorite sports to play while growing up?
Cole - Basketball and baseball
Q - While attending Lakeshore High School, did you play multiple sports?
Cole - Yes, I played baseball and basketball there. I tried getting volleyball there, but they weren't having it. I played volleyball in junior high and loved it. It was so much fun cutting up with everybody. A bunch of the other schools didn't have it, so they would of had to make it like a club team and with the school being so new, they just couldn't do it.
Q - I see you were All-State and All-District in baseball and pretty good in basketball as well?
Cole - Yes, I think I still own a couple of basketball records over there, like charges and I don't know if I still have the assists one. Someone may have past me up in that one. I think I also have the most steals. I think I was All-District one year.
Q - Were you recruited by anyone for baseball or basketball?
Cole - No.. I wasn't even recruited for baseball. Well, the only team that did hit me up for baseball was a place called Spring Hill. I think they were located in Mobile, AL. But that was my only baseball offer coming out of high school.
Q - So how did you end up playing baseball at Delgado Community College?
Cole - Yea, one of their coaches I kinda grew up with, Chris Westcott, who lived in our neighborhood. He was really a blessing to me. I met him when I was really young. I was about ten. I actually met him at a LSU vs. ULL game that my dad took me to. We found out then that he lived in our neighborhood, and he kinda took me under his wing. So, I called him and asked if he could get me into Delgado, and three weeks before college started I was able to get in.
Q - From what I understand, Delgado has a pretty solid baseball program?
Cole - Yea, I think starting in 2013 is when they started kinda turning that corner and establishing themselves. They went to the World Series the year before I got there, Then we went back to the World Series during both of my years there. Then I think they went the following year after I left too. So they have been in the top ten in the country for the last seven to eight years. Joe Sherman was my head coach there.
Q - How was your experience at Delgado and what kind of a coach was Coach Sherman?
Cole - To him, I'm in forever debt. To Coach Sherman, the other coaches, and the whole Delgado program. I tell people all the time, that the best thing that ever happened to me was getting an opportunity to go there. It obviously furthered my career. If I could, I would do it again in a heart beat. School wise, I think it was the right choice for me to. It was a little smaller right out of the gate. Kinda helped me get my feet wet for college. That program means everything to me, as well as the people. As long as I can play and help that program out, the way they helped me out. I'd do that the rest of my life. Yea, I'm always proud to say that I'm a former Delgado Dolphin.
Q - Can you tell us how you got your opportunity to play at LSU after your Sophomore season at Delgado?
Cole - It actually started my freshman year, after my fall season. We had a our exit meeting with Coach Joe. As I walked in he started to tell me how he thought I did. Then he told me that I would be starting when we would come back to start the season. I went into the fall thinking, you know because I was coming behind someone that had just went to the World Series and was returning. So I was thinking that I was going to still have to stay behind him, then maybe redshirt or something. But I beat him out.
Then I asked coach if he thought I could play at LSU? He said, "I think you can. You still need to work on some things, but I think you can get there." So, I kinda put it in his mind real early, that, Hey, look, That is where I really want to be.
So I think he kinda saw that and he kinda pushed me in that sense. He knew that was in the back of my mind. I wanted to go to one of the top places in the country.
So, he decided that he was going to coach me and treat me in the way that it would take to get me there. So I kept working and working.
Then after my freshmen year, I had a pretty good summer. That's when I heard some chirps about LSU looking at me.
My big thing coming into my sophomore season in the fall, I was going to put all of my hard classes in the fall. So I didn't have to worry about anything during the season, but focus on baseball to get my best shot at LSU.
It ended up that we happened to play at LSU during the fall, and actually I probably had the worse game of my college career when I needed to have a good game in front of Coach Mainieri and Nolan Cain. They were all there. I went 0-4 with a strike out and committed two errors, and I thought my chance at LSU was over.
I ended up getting a knock on my hotel door and it was Coach Sherman. He asked me how I was doing and I said, "I feel terrible. I just had my worse game and they were watching." Then he said, "I just want to let you know that Nolan Cain and Paul Mainieri asked for your number after the game." That kinda shocked me, because of how bad the game was, but it helped relieved a lot of stress. If they liked me after that game, then I can't do much worse than that.
That's a story that I always tell the younger kids now. Because the reason why he came and got my number was because he liked the way I was hustling and the way that I was responding to making all those mistakes. Anyone can have a good game and keep their head up, but I just kept bouncing back. I ended up making two good plays after I made an error. Then after another error, I ended up making a diving play. There was a ball that I popped up, but I still hustled and ran fast, and they ended up dropping it, so I was able to get to second. So it was the little things.
At the time I really didn't understand it like I do now. But like I said, It's a story that I try to tell to a bunch of younger kids that in order for you to get to a place like LSU, you don't have to go 4-4 with two home runs. You got to do the little things, the intangibles.
Yea, after that I got a call from Andy Cannizaro two weeks later and went on my visit in October. The rest is history.
Q - Tell us about Coach Paul Mainieri?
Cole - Yea, He's got this persona. Obviously he has this status being the LSU head coach. When you get around him, for some reason you want to do your absolute best, almost in a way to thank him for your opportunity for being there.
He knows how to get the best out of you. I think that is one thing that us players always talked about. When he is on the field you always wanted to do something good to impress him because he's your coach, but you just wanted to go out there and play hard for him.
He knows how to put pressure on you in practice and get you ready for the game. Because I think he understands how big of a stage it is. Obviously with every game being on TV and all the fans being there like no other college in the nation.
He knows how to put that pressure on you and he wants to see if you can handle it. He did that right out the gate with putting all of us at short stop after Bregman left. Trey Dawson, O'Neal Lochridge, myself, and Kramer.
I remember the first week, it was exhausting, because we would have practice, and then after we would have short stop tryouts. Us four would stay on the field and take ground balls for 45 minutes and timing it, and that was all after a long practice.
He obviously knew what it took to play there and how to get it out of us. Some people faltered and some people rose up. I think that's how he gets the best out of people. He's going to go there and see how much pressure you can take, see how you handle it.
But, I mean the experience was incredible. I'll thank Coach Mainieri for giving me my dream job, I like to say. My dream opportunity for the rest of my life, and I want to say I hope the memories don't slip for a long, long time, because I'd like to always remember ever second.
Q - Can you tell us about meeting Coach Skip Bertman for the first time as a LSU player and some of the things you two have talked about?
Cole - Yea, I was in kinda a "awe" the first time I met him.
That was one of the things that I would talk to my dad about, that by the time I was leaving LSU, how cool it was that Skip would come into a room and we could just have conversation, because obviously I was already familiar with him, and we kinda had a relationship.
I thought that was one of the coolest things about going to LSU. Obviously, I watched him while I was growing up. I watched him coach. He's an icon. Anything that he had to say, I was listening.
I remember one of the biggest compliments that I ever got was he was standing up during the game, when I was being introduced with my parents, and my parents were talking to him. This was during my senior year and I remember my dad told me after the game that he got to meet Skip and they got to talk about me a lot and he gave me one of the coolest compliments ever.
I kept asking.. "What is it? What is it?" ... He just kept dragging it out. Then he said, "He thinks you're the best second base defender that LSU has ever seen." When he told me that, It like opened my eyes. I was like, "WOW!" That's Skip Bertman saying that? That's like the ultimate goal when you get a compliment from Skip Bertman. Yea, he is an icon.
Every opportunity I could get to just talk to him. I did. Talk to him in the dug out or outside of baseball, it was just awesome. I definitely cherish those moments.
Q - Who are some of the former LSU baseball greats that you have had conversations with during your career?
Cole - Yea, I got pretty close to Mikie Mahtook and especially some of the team that was a couple of years before me. I think Mahtook was probably one of the older ones who I got to talk too. I got to meet Buzzy.
A bunch of those guys I got to go to dinner with right before you leave for spring training. They try to have a dinner each year, and you have a couple of guys from each year, each team would all go to dinner and just tell stories.
But yea, I remember Mason Katts. When I was at Delgado, I met him at Mardi Gras and we started talking. I told him that I was going to LSU and I remember one of the things he told me about Coach Mainieri was, he said, "Listen, when he kinda jumps your butt, kinda get back at him. Jump his butt back and say, you understand you messed up and that it's not going to happen again!" He added, "He likes that. He likes to see a little response, and someone who's not going to cave under."
So, not only three games into the season, I got my first start at short stop, and in the first inning I dropped the transfer on a double play ball that I was about to feed to second. Then of course the next ball, the dude hit a double, scored two, and I would have gotten us out of the inning if I would have turned it.
So he meets me right down by the water cooler, and he just starts going at me. I won't say what he said, but he was going at me. I got like half way down the dug out and it click for some reason in my head that Mason Katts told me that day. So I turned around and I was like.. "Alright Coach, I understand, I messed up, it's not going to happen again!" ... and he just looked at me, nodded his head and walked away. I was like, damn, Mason was right!
Q - Would you tell us a little about the 2016 season, which was your first at LSU?
Cole - Starting in the fall, I just wanted to earn a spot. I didn't care where.
Then in the fall I kinda struggled with my hitting a little bit while making that next jump, with the pitchers. I think I only hit like 220 in the fall.
But I played good defense, and I played third base the entire fall, and I had never played third my entire life. So we get through the fall and they tell me I'm going to start at third to start the season.
So we come back for the season and I start my first two games at third base. Everything seemed good. Then over the next two weeks I start a rotation playing short, and I really hadn't played short since my senior year in high school, and then after that is when I made the jump over to second to where I played my entire life. That's when stuff started clicking.
Then over the fall, I kinda had to make an adjustment with my swing. That's what Andy Cannizaro ended up helping me with. We kind of came up with an approach for me.
Obviously my biggest tool was running, so I had to learn how to bunt. I would bunt as much as I would hit, I think at practice. I would go out there for early work at 1:30pm and it would go until 3pm. Then I would take ground balls for probably 30 minutes. Then I would go bunt off of the machine for 30 minutes. Then I would hit for another 30 minutes. I had to learn to be great at bunting.
Then after that we kinda turned my approach to just turning on everything. I like to pull the ball, so he said, Let's go!, We came up with the saying, "Beat the 3rd baseman." ... It didn't matter how I was pitched, I was trying to pull it right by the 3rd baseman. If he wasn't playing in, then I was bunting.
I think I ended up setting the record for most sacrifice bunts. They really weren't sacrifice bunts, but if someone was on first base and I got thrown out, that's what it would go down as.
I was squaring around two for every four times at bat, every game. I kinda made that adjustment and it worked out for me. Especially starting the season out.
I think during the first two weeks I was hitting around 400. I was rolling, and it was a big jump from where I was in the fall. Just throughout the year, I continued on that path.
I remember coach moved me up in the lineup twice. The last time he moved me up in the lineup was after a Friday night game at Missouri. We faced Trendon Houte on Saturday. This dude was just a phenom. I had never seen somebody of his caliber.
I remember sitting in the dugout and I looked at the lineup and I'm batting, I can't remember, either first or second. So I look at the lineup and I walk away and Mainieri is looking at me and he says, "Huh, my hand must have slipped, huh Cole?" and I started laughing, and I was like, "I guess so." ... I was already in that game mind set with it being so close to game time and he said, "Let's see what you can do?" ..
Well, I went 0-5 with two strikeouts. After the game he said, "I don't think my hand is going to slip again." .. I was like, I understand. But then I was like, you put me against one of the toughest pitches in the nation, who I hadn't seen yet. But it was all part of it.
By the end of the season, articles were coming out and they were saying, "Best Nine Hole Hitter in the Country" ... I actually wanted to be at the top of the lineup, but when they started saying that, and while we were rolling, I kinda just embraced it. Hey, I'm going to be the best nine hole in the nation.
So, that's kinda what I wanted to go by at the end of the season. We were rolling and we caught fire. We were just clicking on all cylinders. Obviously look at what we did in the SEC Tournament. I don't know what happens to us in the SEC Tournaments, but something takes us over it feels like. It's absurd some of the things we do.
Then in the Regional, having to battle back against Rice for a winner take all, and Deichmann hitting that home run in the seventh inning. It was kinda crazy, with the whole "Rally Possum" thing.
The whole season is just kinda what you would hope for. With me going to LSU, with events like that, like the "Rally Possum" happening. Then with us kinda struggling at mid-season. Then us catching fire. Then us hosting a Regional. Then hosting a Super.
I remember at one point we were just hoping to make the tournament, then next thing you know we're locking up the seventh or eighth national seed. It was unreal. It was awesome.
Q - Please talk about and review 2017, your senior year?
Cole - Well, it started out after we lost to Coastal Carolina, we kinda wanted to all figure out what we all were going to do.
Me, and Poche', and Kramer, we just all kinda talked and we were just all kinda saying I think we need to make another run at this. I think if we all come back and with the people that we have coming in, that we were just right there. I think we really have a good shot at this.
We all said, we are all going to come back, and we started to realize that if we put the work in, that we will have a really good shot at winning it all.
When we came back in the fall, there was definitely a different feeling. We were more established as a team. We knew what positions we were all going to be playing. It was like, Hey! what do we need to do to take that next step? What does each individual have to get better at, to make the team better? The fall was a lot more relaxed then my junior season.
We came out the gate playing really, really good. Then we kinda struggled mi-way through again. I remember a lot of the fans were kinda freaking out, especially with us losing some mid-week games. We really weren't worried. We knew we were going to turn it around. The baseball season is a long one.
I remember we ended up losing to South Alabama at our place, after we had a big lead, and it was kinda at the end of the season. You know, I'm not a very vocal guy as far as talking to the team a lot. But after that game Coach Mainieri huddled us up and he didn't say anything to us. He just said, "Okay, Lets just get to work tomorrow at 1:30." ..
For some reason something took me over and I started lighting the team up in a sense. I was just like, "We are suppose to be this top team and we keep coming out here and laying an egg in the mid-week games! This is going to cost us a national seed. We need to get our sh*t together!" Just trying to say, "Hey! we're running out of time! We can't keep messing around with all these games, it's going to end up hurting us in the long run. If we get home field advantage, teams can't deal with that, as well as we can." I just kind of let into them a little bit.
Then Kramer, Deichmann, Poche', and Lange all kinda chirped in. We kinda had like a players meeting only out there. We just all kind of said, it's now or never. That's when we finally went on a run.
We started that week, then we finished in the SEC with Auburn and a couple of those teams. Then Obviously, what we did in the SEC Tournament was mind boggling. I think in the first three games, I can't remember how many runs we scored. Yea, we beat a great Kentucky team and then we had to go face a hot Arkansas team in the championship game, and we were able to win that.
Then we went into the Regional and did our thing there. Then on to the Supers and did our thing there. Then Obviously we got to the World Series, and that was by far the coolest thing that I ever got to experience.
Just with the status and the platform you are put on with all those eyes watching you, then the pressure. It was the coolest thing I ever got to do.
After beating Oregon State twice, we, as a team, thought we had it in the bag. We had lost to Florida earlier in the season, but we felt like we were a totally different team. We thought we were the better team going into that. We knew it was going to be tough losing Eric Walker, and us going to face Brady Singer in the first game.
Even though we knew we were short a starting pitcher, we just knew we had to get to game three.
After we lost game one, 4-3, I talked to the team out there and I said, "Listen, we knew this was going to be a tough game. They knew they had to win this game if they were going to beat us. I'm not worried at all. We're going to be just fine. We have Jared Poche' coming out tomorrow. There is no one else that I'd love to have take them out. Then after we beat them there, we are going to go and we'll have Lange. We're fine. This is how it's going to go. I'm not worried and I don't think you all should be worried."
The team was in good morale, after losing game one of the World Series. I promise you, the team had all the confidence in the world going into game two and getting to a game three. We just had a couple of breaks not go our way, and in the seventh and eighth innings, with first and third with no outs, and not scoring. Once you make mistakes like that, it's kinda tough to come back. But, it just didn't work out for us.
Q - Tell us about your draft process by the Washington Nationals?
Cole - At the time I didn't have an agent yet, so I was trying to handle it all by myself. I didn't have much leverage being a senior, but on the first day of the draft while I was at Lange's draft party, the Braves called me to talk and discuss money.
I really didn't care what round I went in, I just wanted to make as much money as I could after losing money from the year before.
The Rockies called me in the 4th round and I turned their offer down. Then the Nationals called me with an offer, and we negotiated to a number I agreed with. Next thing you know I ended up signing with them.
Right after the World Series I had to go to rehab because I was playing with a wrist injury for probably the last month and a half of the season. I had to be put in a cast, so I missed my whole short season. Rehabbed, and did the off-season.
When I got to my first full season, I started out in Hagerstown in Single A, and did pretty bad my first half. I only hit .222. I remember looking out and I was like, this is crazy. My last game I played was in front of 30,000 people, and now I'm out in the middle of Hagerstown, Maryland, playing in front of about 50 people and it's 45 degrees. At one point it was snowing.
All of my infield speaks nothing but Spanish. I couldn't speak to any of them. I was like, wow, this is a rude awakening.
I had to make some adjustments hitting wise, just like I did my junior year. I figured it out, and in my second half I hit .312. Ever since then it's kinda clicked, something at the plate with me.
Then I went into my second full season, playing for Potomac in Single A. Kinda got off on a good note there and never looked back.
That's where I started playing a little outfield in the second half, and kinda opened up the whole utility type of player they were trying to get. So I started learning how to play that.
Then I got invited to the Fall League. Went out there, Had a great time. Got to meet some of the guys from Florida's team that I played against. We all got to talk about the World Series and stuff like that. To me, that's the coolest thing, getting to speak to people you played against your whole life, that you've had big games against each other, and just getting to meet these guys as a person.
But then, now we are the point where we are now. Sitting and waiting for the call to go back.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell the LSU fans?
Cole - Yes, That I'm forever in dept to their hospitality and that if there was anything in this world I could do, it would be to go back and play another game in front of all of them at the Box.
Playing for LSU and going out there and representing them is by far the coolest thing I've ever got to do. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life.
When I tell you that they mean more to us then they could ever imagine, it's really the truth. Because when we are running around out there, we're not just running out there for the name on our back and the name on our front. We're running out there to perform and to hopefully bring joy and happiness to them, because that's really what gets us going. Seeing how much joy we can bring to all of them by just playing a game that we've played our entire life and that we love so much.
Q - What about your "Heart Has No Limit" program?
Cole - Yea, My Heart Has No Limit, kinda took its own little thing because of LSU. It's just my story growing up.
Like I said, I didn't have anywhere to go coming out of high school and for me to get where I was took a lot of the right people for me to be around and kinda the right timing.
I just want people to know that if there is anything you want to achieve and you put your heart into it, you can do it. It doesn't matter what other people are saying or believe. It's not their dream, it's not their belief, it's what you believe in.
Just go out and do it. Don't let anyone tell you no. Put in the work and I promise you, if you put everything that you have into it, you can achieve it. Once you get there, keep pushing. Don't ever stop.