Clear and sunny skies are usually how America’s favorite pastime is fantasized about. Combine that with a light breeze that gracefully carries the ball just past the outfield wall and you are left with a day that is usually displayed in the movies.
The environment in Alex Box Stadium these past few weekends have been exactly that. They have been the perfect weekends for the Tigers to showcase a roster that will dominate their upcoming season.
Apart from intramural scrimmages this fall practice season, LSU faced off in two 16 inning scrimmages; the first against the University of New Orleans and the second against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The monster lineup behind the Tigers was what carried wins in both scrimmages.
Some of the 2022 recruiting class, newly ranked No. 1 in the nation by Perfect Game, were there to witness the Tigers in all of their glory when competing against ULL. Head Coach Jay Johnson appreciated that the young recruits were able to begin building the relationships that it takes for a program to succeed.
“The connection of the team is really important,” Johnson said. “So it was great for those guys to get an experience of what LSU is and develop some friendships and relationships with our current players.”
Last season, LSU found a solid and extremely versatile front end of the line-up of hitters in Tre’ Morgan, Dylan Crews, Cade Doughty and Gavin Dugas. These four batters were reliable and could almost always be trusted to get their foot on a bag. Occasional base-worthy hits were found at the end of the lineup, but the heart of LSU scoring was typically found at the top. This came to be a fault for the Tigers -- last season when opponents defenses were able to overcome theirs, especially with the weaker back end of the lineup.
Within the fall practice season, there was a lot of action in the Box from the returning four from the top of the lineup. These four, however, were not the only front runners. Newcomers for the Tigers seriously stepped up to the plate, producing everything from RBI’s to grand slams. True freshman and transfers seamlessly fell into the roster, fitting in perfectly with returning veterans. The strength of this lineup will be a hefty competitor to any offense LSU will face this coming season, which will be quite the show for fans to witness. Johnson is also excited to see what this lineup will bring for the Tigers and expects that the defensive breakthrough will be a solid foundation to their success.
“What I’m excited about is that the things we need to do better are all in front of us, as part of our development process,” Johnson explained. “Our plate discipline was really good, which created a lot of opportunities, and with the ability I believe our players have, we’re eventually going to crack through.”
On the offensive side for the Tigers, the pitching staff has found its fair share of obstacles, with standout pitchers such as Jaden Hill attracting a season-ending injury, and AJ Labas falling short on the mound. These offensive ruts have provided nothing but an opportunity for younger talents to catch their strides. Fans and coaches alike saw a lot of action on the mound from Ty Floyd, Eric Reyzelman and Grant Taylor. Johnson was particularly pleased with Grant Taylor and anticipates a successful season for his pitching career.
“Grant Taylor's got a great arm,” Johnson said. “He's got a great future here. I think it was great to get him out in a situation like that, where he's gonna pitch in a lot of games where we have to lead at some point in his career.”
As the fall season has come to a close, Johnson has been extremely pleased with all of the action that has occurred at The Box thus far.
“Across the board, I’m pleased with the talent and I’m pleased with the depth,” he said.
Until then, the Tigers will continue to prepare for a season that has the potential to stand out from those in the past.
“We’ve made a lot of strides in both individual and team development,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a long way to go, there are about 90 days until the season starts, so we’ll continue to prepare and get ready. We’ve got to just keep improving. If we do that, we’ll be ready to roll when it’s time.”