LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson says that he and his staff are eager to start the Tigers’ fall practice period with a group of accomplished veterans and highly-touted newcomers.
“We like the talent across the board on this team,” Johnson said. “However, the talent doesn’t make us a team, and it does not make us skilled to win games. The good part of that is we have some time to develop the team, which we take very seriously every day.”
The 2023 LSU squad take the field together for the first time on Thursday afternoon as the Tigers begin fall practice in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
Intra-squad scrimmages will be open to the general public throughout the fall, beginning this week. The Tigers will scrimmage at 4 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.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 intra-squad scrimmages this fall, as well as for LSU’s home exhibition game versus McNeese at 12 p.m. on Sunday, November 6, and the annual Purple-Gold World Series November 18-20.
LSU’s class of new players – consisting of 14 true freshmen, five Division I transfers and two junior college transfers – has been rated No. 1 in the nation this fall by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
“We had a very productive summer relative to completing the roster,” Johnson explained. “We feel great about where we are as a starting point for the fall and building toward the 2023 season. We were definitely able to upgrade and address some areas in which we needed to improve.
“We’re very excited about the blend of new players with the returners, and we’re looking forward to getting into that process with our team and do what we need to do to be prepared when we turn the corner to 2023.”
LSU returns six position players that started in a significant number of the Tigers’ 62 games last season, including junior centerfielder Dylan Crews, the 2022 SEC Co-Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-American.
Crews is joined by several other accomplished veterans like junior first baseman Tre’ Morgan, senior outfielder/infielder Gavin Dugas, junior shortstop Jordan Thompson, junior outfielder/DH Brayden Jobert and sophomore outfielder Josh Pearson.
Other position players with starting experience include junior catchers Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski, senior first baseman/DH Cade Beloso, sophomore outfielder Josh Stevenson and senior infielder Jack Merrifield.
The veterans are joined by several talented newcomers, including impact transfers like utility player/pitcher Paul Skenes (Air Force), infielder Tommy White (North Carolina State and infielder Ben Nippolt (Virginia Commonwealth).
A group of skilled LSU true freshmen features infielder Gavin Guidry, outfielders Paxton Kling, Mic Paul and Zeb Ruddell, and catchers Brady Neal, Jared Jones and Ethan Frey.
The Tigers’ pitching staff boasts 10 hurlers that recorded innings last season, including junior right-handers Ty Floyd, Blake Money and Bryce Collins, junior left-hander Riley Cooper, and sophomore right-handers Grant Taylor and Sam Dutton.
High-profile transfers like right-handers Thatcher Hurd (UCLA) and Christian Little (Vanderbilt) are expected to make an immediate impact upon the staff.
Other returners on the mound include junior right-handers Will Hellmers and Garrett Edwards, sophomore left-hander Javen Coleman, sophomore right-hander Cale Lansville, senior right-hander Jason Bollman, and redshirt freshman right-hander Grant Fontenot.
The staff is bolstered by a pair of JUCO transfers – left-hander Nate Ackenhausen and right-hander Kaleb Applebey – and by a gifted crew of true freshmen pitchers that includes left-handers Griffin Herring, Nic Bronzini and DJ Primeaux, and right-handers Chase Shores, Jaden Noot, Micah Bucknam and Aiden Moffett.
Johnson encouraged LSU fans to attend the fall scrimmages.
“We’re looking forward to seeing our fans at the fall scrimmages,” Johnson said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to get an early look at our 2023 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.”