Before the start of his sophomore year at Denham Springs High, Cade Doughty was already thinking about his future.
With a commitment to LSU, he was counting down the days until he could follow in the footsteps of his father Richard, a catcher on LSU’s 1989 College World Series team, and join older brother Braden, a reserve catcher with the Tigers.
To help ensure his arrival in Baton Rouge, Doughty removed his name from the 2019 major league draft. The Detroit Tigers went ahead and chose him in the 39th round, but he had his eyes on being a purple and gold Tiger who played in Alex Box Stadium.
The dream couldn’t have gotten off to a more memorable start when Doughty smashed a two-run homer in his first collegiate plate appearance to spark LSU’s 8-1 season-opening victory over Indiana.
Doughty became the first LSU player in 11 years to homer in his first at bat. But soon, one of the greatest moments in his athletic career took a back seat to the disappointment of the 2020 season being called after 17 games because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Obviously, last year was a bummer of course coming into my freshman year,” said Doughty, the team’s projected starter at second base when LSU opens the season at home Feb. 19 against Air Force at 7 p.m. “I think even though I only got 16 games it gave me a little bit of experience and is going to kind of help me out this year.”
Doughty has returned for his listed sophomore season, six pounds lighter than last year and wearing a mustache, taking advantage of LSU coach Paul Mainieri’s decision to lift his ban on players wearing facial hair during the season.
Based on LSU’s probable starting infield, Doughty may be the lone constant as the team’s returning starter at second base.
After a long prep career at shortstop, he made the adjustment with 14 starts at second base last season and one other at third base. He also served as the team’s designated hitter in one game.
There were never any concerns over Doughty’s ability to hit and for the most part that proved true with a .278 average. But to keep his new-found spot on the right side of the infield, it was incumbent upon him to pick up a new position where he wound up with a .920 fielding percentage (4 errors in 50 total chances).
“I’m feeling 100 percent out there,” Doughty said of second base. “I feel like I help the team win out there and really not be a liability. Just make the routine plays and hopefully make some great plays as well to help out our pitching staff.”
While his place in the batting order fluctuated during LSU’s brief season, Doughty had to overcome a slow start following his movie-script opening. He batted .115 with just three hits in his first eight games and compounded matters with four errors in 21 chances at second base.
Doughty worked through that slump at the plate and tightened up his defense to become one of the team’s more consistent players when the season ended March 11 following a 4-1 win over South Alabama.
Over his final eight games, Doughty hit .429 (12 of 28) with a double and homer, scored four runs and drove in eight runs. He wound up tied for the team lead in RBIs (12), tied for second in homers (two), and was third in stolen bases (4 of 6 attempts) and sixth in slugging percentage (.407) and batting average.
In what turned out to be the team’s final game of the season, Doughty went 3-for-4, drove in a run and scored a run in the win over South Alabama.
“I felt most of the time I was comfortable in the box and looking back at the stat sheet it didn’t really look like I did a whole bunch,” Doughty said. “I was really comfortable up there and towards the end of the season it started to fall for me. The whole time I was barreling up balls and that’s all you could ask for.”
Moreover, Doughty was flawless on defense without an error in his final 29 total chances in the last nine games.
Less than three months removed from his first college season, Doughty continued his development in the South Florida Collegiate League. He joined the Boca Raton Blazers and flourished during his 27-game summer league.
Not only did he continue to polish his game at second base, Doughty went on to play in the league’s all-star game and earned first team all-league status. He finished second in the league’s batting race with a .429 average to go along with three homers, nine doubles and 17 RBIs.
Doughty also shined during the team’s fall workouts where he led LSU in batting average (.389), hits (21), doubles (6) and slugging percentage (.593).
“I’m looking forward to SEC play, SEC tournament and hopefully Omaha, that’s the goal,” Doughty said. “I’m just looking forward to being out there with my brothers and hopefully making it all the way.”