2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 10 Louisiana State
Last season: 38-25 (13-17 in SEC), reached super regionals
Final ranking: No. 21
Coach (record at school): Jay Johnson (first year)
The good news: LSU in June hired Johnson to take over as head coach, replacing the retired Paul Mainieri. As he begins his tenure in Baton Rouge, he does so with the benefit of one of the best offenses in the country. The Tigers last season had a good lineup (they averaged 6.6 runs per game) and most of that group returns, including leading hitters Dylan Crews and Tre’ Morgan and their leading home run hitter Gavin Dugas. That lineup was only further strengthened over the summer thanks to the addition of infielder Jacob Berry, who last year earned All-America honors while playing for Johnson at Arizona. Tyler McManus (Samford) and Brayden Jobert (junior college) further strengthen the lineup, which may be the best and deepest in the country. In addition to the pure talent LSU has accumulated, Johnson is known for his offensive acumen and has always had potent lineups throughout his career.
The bad news: As good and as experienced as LSU’s lineup is, the same cannot be said for its pitching. Ace Landon Marceaux and fellow starters Jaden Hill and A.J. Labas moved on to pro ball, leaving the Tigers with a lot of innings to replace. The Tigers don’t lack for options on the mound, they’re just a bit light on experience. Sophomores Javen Coleman, Garrett Edwards, Ty Floyd and Will Helmers all have exciting upside and figure to pitch important innings. Fifth-year righthander Devin Fontenot has pitched at the back of the LSU bullpen for three years and now will get a shot in the rotation. Righthander Eric Reyzelman transferred to LSU from San Francisco after a standout summer in the Cape Cod League and will pitch important innings. Finding a replacement for Marceaux on Friday nights and filling in the rest of the roles on the pitching staff is the challenge of new pitching coach Jason Kelly. The makings of a solid staff are there, the Tigers just have to figure out their best alignment.
Player to know: Dylan Crews, OF
Crews highlighted LSU’s 2020 recruiting class and he lived up to the hype as a freshman. He hit .362/.453/.663 with 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases, leading the team in batting. He spent the summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and is now back to again anchor the lineup. LSU has plenty of firepower offensively, but Crews has the most upside and will be a very high draft pick in 2023.
Path to Omaha: LSU’s offense is elite and will take the Tigers a long way in 2022. But it will need to find some answers on the mound to reach the College World Series in Johnson’s first year as head coach. With the talent the Tigers have on their pitching staff, their ceiling is sky high. It will likely take them some time to settle into their new roles, but as long as they’ve hit their stride in the second half, LSU will be a dangerous team in the postseason.
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Transfer—Delgado (La.) JC