BATON ROUGE, La. – Jay Johnson said Thursday that his first LSU baseball team is not yet game-ready, but the Tigers have displayed the traits necessary to achieve success during the six-week training period that precedes fall practice.
“What I’m seeing so far from our players is a willingness to buy in to the process that we take our teams through at this time of the year,” Johnson said. “The buy-in from the players has been really, really strong.
“It will be tested as we move along in the fall; our players will hear me talk about improving one percent on a daily basis. If you do that over a long period of time, the player is going to transform and be more productive for your team.”
The 2022 squad will take the field together for the first time on Friday evening as the Tigers begin fall practice in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Intrasquad scrimmages will be open to the general public throughout the fall, beginning this weekend. The Tigers will scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Gates to the stadium will open approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of each scrimmage, and fans will be admitted through the Gate 2 home plate entrance.
Admission and parking are free for all intrasquad scrimmages this fall, as well as for LSU’s two exhibition games in November. The Tigers will play host to UNO at 10 a.m. on Sunday, November 7, and to UL-Lafayette at 11 a.m. on Sunday, November 14. Fall practice is scheduled to continue through November 21.
“What I want our players to see from our coaching staff is high effort, high energy and high competency,” Johnson said. “But, that’s all that we can provide. The work part has to be provided by the players, and we’re off to a really good start in that area. We’re very excited to get into the team portion of practice to take that a step further.”
LSU returns nine position players that started in a significant number of the Tigers’ 63 games last season, including outfielder Dylan Crews, first baseman Tre’ Morgan, third baseman Cade Doughty, outfielder Gavin Dugas, shortstop Jordan Thompson, designated hitter Cade Beloso, catcher Alex Milazzo, outfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo and outfielder/infielder Drew Bianco.
Other players with starting experience include outfielder Brody Drost, infielders Collier Cranford and Will Safford, and catchers Hayden Travinski, Braden Doughty and Jake Wyeth.
The veterans are joined by several talented newcomers, including impact transfers like infielder Jacob Berry (Arizona), catcher Tyler McManus (Samford) and first baseman/outfielder Brayden Jobert (Delgado CC).
Infielder Jack Merrifield is a transfer from LSU-Eunice, and a group of skilled true freshmen features outfielders Josh Pearson, Josh Stevenson and Tripp Haddad, catcher Blaise Priester, and infielders Luke Leto, Connor Simon, Brennan Holt and Brant Smith.
The LSU pitching staff includes 11 hurlers that recorded innings last season, including senior right-handers Devin Fontenot and Ma’Khail Hilliard, and graduate right-hander Trent Vietmeier.
Other returners on the mound include junior left-handers Jacob Hasty and Alex Brady, sophomore left-hander Javen Coleman, and sophomore right-handers Ty Floyd, Will Hellmers, Garrett Edwards, Michael Fowler and Blake Money.
Right-hander Eric Reyzelman, a transfer from the University of San Francisco, is expected to impact the staff, as are a pair of transfers from Arizona – right-hander Bryce Collins and left-hander Riley Cooper.
The staff is bolstered by JUCO transfer right-handers Paul Gervase, Dawson Gause and Jason Bollman, and by a gifted crew of true freshmen pitchers that includes right-handers Cale Lansville, Grant Taylor, Grant Fontenot and Samuel Dutton.
Johnson encouraged LSU fans to attend the fall scrimmages and familiarize themselves with the 2022 Tigers.
“We’re looking forward to honoring the tradition of admitting our devoted fans into our fall scrimmages,” Johnson said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get an early look at our 2022 team. The enthusiasm that our fans bring to the stadium is important in helping to acclimate our players to a game-like atmosphere, so we definitely encourage them to come to ‘The Box’ to see the Tigers.”