Paul Skenes gave LSU one of the most dynamic single-season performances in college baseball history while leading the Tigers to this summer’s College World Series championship.
His admiration and support of the U.S. military, and his prior seasons as an All-American star at the Air Force Academy, are additional factors that made him an ideal choice to be the star attraction for this year’s Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner.
Skenes is the featured attraction Tuesday, October 3 at the Shreveport Convention Center. The College World Series Most Outstanding Player and 2023 first-overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft is the featured speaker for the bowl’s signature non-bowl season event.
In his one season in the LSU baseball program, Skenes racked up the hardware, helped lead the Tigers to their seventh national championship in program history, and positioned himself to be taken No. 1 overall in July’s MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He received a record-setting signing $9 million signing bonus from the Pirates and has been lights out in a few brief minor league outings this month.
“I am honored to be speaking at the Independence Bowl kickoff dinner,” said Skenes. “I am proud to be at an event that supports the people of the great state of Louisiana and our military. I am looking forward to seeing you all there and raising money for Folds of Honor.”
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail hour; dinner buffets will open at 6:15 p.m. and the program emceed by Patrick Netherton will begin at 7 p.m. with a Q&A to conclude.
Individual tickets to the event are on sale for $50 apiece. A table of eight is $400. Tickets can be purchased at RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com/shop or by calling the bowl office at 318-221-0712 or toll-free at 888-414-BOWL.
The Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl will be running a social media campaign leading into the event to help raise money for Folds of Honor – a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of military and first responders who have passed or been disabled. During his 2023 season at LSU, Skenes pledged $10 for every strikeout he recorded to Folds of Honor and has raised over $50,000 for the organization to this point.
“Paul [Skenes] and the LSU baseball team rallied our state around them this past season, and we are so excited to hear that story and his own personal journey,” said I-Bowl executive director Missy Setters. “His story is so interesting, and everything he represents and his work with the military embodies what the Independence Bowl Foundation is about. We look forward to welcoming him to Shreveport-Bossier and enjoying a great event with him.”
After transferring to LSU from the Air Force Academy, this spring Skenes went 13-2 with a 1.69 earned run average and struck out an SEC single-season record 209 batters in 122.2 innings. He was named the Dick Howser Trophy Winner, National Player of the Year by D1 Baseball and Collegiate Baseball, SEC Pitcher of the Year, National Pitcher of the Year by the ABCA, College World Series Most Outstanding Player and a consensus First-Team All-American. Skenes became just the second LSU player to win the Dick Howser Trophy, awarded to the country’s best NCAA Division I player.
A California native, Skenes began his collegiate baseball career at Air Force, earning first-team All-America recognition during his freshman and sophomore seasons in 2021 and 2022. He also received the 2022 John Olerud Award as the best two-way player in college baseball. In 2021, he was voted as the National Co-Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Baseball alongside his future LSU teammate, Dylan Crews.
Skenes is the second consecutive non-football player to speak at the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl Kickoff Dinner – following LSU Women’s Basketball head coach Kim Mulkey last August – further demonstrating that the organization’s mission represents more than just a football game. The annual Kickoff Dinner is the final public event of the year before bowl week – following community events such as the Youth Football Clinic, 1st & Give Charity Flag Football Tournament, Annual Member Crawfish Boil, Fish N’ Football and others.