LSU is ranked No. 3 in the 2022 Collegiate Baseball newspaper preseason poll released Monday, marking the 10th time in 11 seasons the Tigers will begin the year among the Top 10 teams in the nation.
LSU wrapped up fall practice last month, and the Tigers will report back to campus in January to begin preseason workouts. The 2022 season begins on February 18, when LSU plays host to Maine in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
“I thought our work during fall practice was very productive; our players did a great job of being very coachable and buying in to the process of how we operate,” said coach Jay Johnson, who is in his first season at LSU after leading Arizona to the College World Series in two of the past five seasons. “Our coaches did a good job of measuring and evaluating the players on our team, and we established a strong foundation to build upon going into the season.
“Right now, it’s important that the players take ownership of their development so that we can maximize our prep when they return to school next month. We’re really excited to get to that point.”
LSU’s 2022 roster includes nine position players that started in a significant number of the Tigers’ 63 games last season, including outfielder Dylan Crews, the 2021 Perfect Game National Freshman of the Year; Freshman All-America first baseman Tre’ Morgan; outfielder Gavin Dugas, the 2021 SEC leader in RBI; infielder Cade Doughty, 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 catcher Hayden Travinski.
The veterans are joined by several talented newcomers, including impact transfers like infielder Jacob Berry – the 2021 Collegiate Baseball National Freshman of the Year at Arizona – catcher Tyler McManus (Samford) and first baseman/outfielder Brayden Jobert (Delgado CC).
Infielder Jack Merrifield is an accomplished transfer from LSU-Eunice, and a group of skilled true freshmen features outfielders Josh Pearson and Josh Stevenson, and infielders Luke Leto and Brennan Holt.
The LSU pitching staff includes 10 hurlers that recorded innings last season, including graduate right-hander Devin Fontenot, senior right-hander Ma’Khail Hilliard and graduate right-hander Trent Vietmeier.
Other returners on the mound include redshirt sophomore left-hander Jacob Hasty, 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 left-hander Trey Shaffer, a graduate transfer from Southeastern Louisiana, JUCO transfer right-handers Paul Gervase 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.
LSU is one of 10 Southeastern Conference teams appearing in the Collegiate Baseball 2022 preseason Top 50, along with No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Florida, No. 9 Mississippi State, No. 19 Ole Miss, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 33 Georgia, No. 34 Tennessee, No. 40 Alabama and No. 44 South Carolina.
LSU is scheduled to play 25 of its 56 regular-season games against teams ranked in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
2022 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll (2021 records in parentheses)
1. Texas (50-17) 2. Vanderbilt (49-18) 3. LSU (38-25) 4. Texas Tech (39-17) 5. Stanford (39-17) 6. Florida (38-22) 7. Oklahoma St. (36-19-1) 8. East Carolina (44-17) 9. Mississippi St. (50-18)10. Notre Dame (34-13)11. Georgia Tech (31-25)12. Florida St. (31-24)13. TCU (41-19)14. UC Irvine (43-18)15. Louisiana Tech (42-20)16. Central Michigan (42-18)17. UC Santa Barbara (41-20)18. UCLA (37-20)19. Mississippi (45-22)20. Arkansas (50-13)21. Oregon (39-16)22. Arizona (45-18)23. Miami, Fla. (33-21)24. Virginia (36-27)25. North Carolina (28-27)26. Louisville (28-22)27. N.C. State (37-19)28. Duke (33-22)29. Campbell (37-18)30. Michigan (27-19)31. Nebraska (34-14)32. Dallas Baptist (41-18)33. Georgia (31-25)34. Tennessee (50-18)35. Gonzaga (34-19)36. South Alabama (36-22)37. Liberty (41-18)38. Maryland (30-18)39. Connecticut (34-19)40. Alabama (32-26)41. Fairfield (39-5)42. Oregon St. (37-24)43. Arizona St. (33-22)44. South Carolina (34-23)45. Oklahoma (27-28)46. Long Beach St. (24-15)47. Cal Poly (31-25)48. Southern Miss (40-21)49. Old Dominion (44-16)50. Nevada (25-20)