BATON ROUGE, La. – Fall practice begins Wednesday afternoon for the 2021 LSU baseball squad in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
The fall practice session, which continues through November 10, is closed to the general public this year due to concerns about COVID-19 exposure.
LSU, which has been engaged since late August in strength and conditioning drills and individual workouts, has a 40-man roster that includes a recruiting class ranked No. 2 in the country by Baseball America magazine.
The Tigers also return 10 position players with starting experience and 11 pitchers who recorded innings last season. Coach Paul Mainieri, entering his 15th season at LSU, said that fall practice fosters a very competitive environment within the ball club.
“We’re just going to go out there this fall and let the guys play; we’re going to see what we’ve got, and everyone is going to be fighting for a role,” said Mainieri, who will enter the 2021 season ranked No. 1 on the active NCAA Division I coaches wins list with 1,467 career victories in 38 seasons at St. Thomas, Air Force, Notre Dame and LSU.
Four juniors – first baseman Cade Beloso, centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, outfielder/infielder Gavin Dugas and outfielder/infielder Drew Bianco – provide a veteran presence in the lineup.
Members of the skilled sophomore class – catchers Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski; infielders Collier Cranford, Cade Doughty and Zach Arnold; and outfielders Maurice Hampton Jr. and Mitchell Sanford will be counted upon to play significant roles this season.
The pitching staff is led by junior right-hander Jaden Hill, who is projected as the Tigers’ No. 1 starter; and senior right-hander Devin Fontenot, who is expected to work as the LSU closer.
Both Hill and Fontenot earned 2020 All-America honors following the pandemic-shortened season.
“Our pitching depth has a chance to be really amazing,” Mainieri said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back from last year’s staff, and (LSU pitching coach) Alan Dunn is bringing along some young kids who can make our staff really special.”
LSU has a very deep staff that includes two returning weekend starters – junior right-handers Landon Marceaux and AJ Labas.
The bullpen features a wealth of experience, including senior right-handers Matthew Beck, Ma’Khail Hilliard, Aaron George and Trent Vietmeier; senior left-hander Brandon Kaminer, junior right-hander Nick Storz and sophomore left-hander Jacob Hasty.
The Tigers’ talented 17-man recruiting class is composed of 10 pitchers and seven position players.
“We’re grateful to be back out on the field and have the opportunity to coach and play a game we love,” Mainieri said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge of building a championship-caliber team.”
(Press release provided by LSU Athletics.)