BATON ROUGE, La. – Coach Jay Johnson and the 2024 Fighting Tigers greeted an enthusiastic throng of supporters at the LSU Baseball First Pitch Banquet Sunday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The First Pitch Banquet, administered by the Tiger Athletic Foundation and the LSU Baseball Coaches Committee, is an annual event that signifies the start of the college baseball season, and it provides boosters an opportunity to support the Tigers’ program.
Sunday night’s event raised an estimated $280,000 for the LSU Baseball program.
The members of the Tigers’ 2024 team were introduced at the start of the evening, which also featured remarks by Johnson, who directed LSU to the 2023 NCAA National Championship, the seventh in school history.
Johnson spoke to a packed house of over 1,000 fans in the Crowne Plaza, thanking the crowd for its tremendous support.
“We have the best fans in college baseball,” Johnson said, “and that’s what makes LSU so special. There is nowhere else in the country where the fans are so passionate, and their support of our players is amazing. We can’t wait to compete in Alex Box Stadium in less than four weeks in front of the greatest fans in the nation.
“The work ethic and character of our 2024 team is elite, and they are a group of young men that will represent LSU at the highest level. Our absolute focus is on the present, right here, right now, all the time.”
The audience also heard from third baseman Tommy White, pitcher Thatcher Hurd, catcher Hayden Travinski and catcher Alex Milazzo, who provided an inside look at the 2024 squad.
Travinski discussed the significance of wearing jersey No. 8, which is assigned each year to the upperclassman who best exemplifies the spirit of the Fighting Tiger program.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue the No. 8 tradition, and we’re excited for another great season,” Travinski said. “We’re looking forward to being the ‘hunted’ this season. This is the point of it, to have other teams give you their best shot. I think pressure is just perception, and we love every aspect of it.
“Now, we just take what we learned from last year, and apply it to this year.”
Special guests on Sunday night included LSU All-Americans Mikie Mahtook, Jared Mitchell and Kevin Gausman, who spoke to the audience about their experiences with the Tigers and in professional baseball.
Gausman, who completed his 10th MLB season in the fall, was the runner-up for the 2023 American League Cy Young Award and he represented the Toronto Blue Jays as a member of the AL All-Star Team.
LSU opens the season at 2 p.m. CT on Friday, February 16, when the Tigers play host to VMI in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.