Similar to almost every other major sport at the school right now, the LSU Baseball program is in the midst of a transitional period. Paul Mainieri is out after 15 seasons and his successor, Jay Johnson, just wrapped up his first season with the Tigers. A 40-22 record is one helluva jumping off point for Johnson during this new relationship. But in order to get LSU to where its fans expect it to be, the former Arizona head coach will need to drop the number in the loss column into the teens to prove that the program is back to its best.
Johnson has done a phenomenal job recruiting ever since he arrived in Baton Rouge a year ago. He’s got another excellent, young recruiting class coming to campus soon, as well as some high profile transfers. The MLB draft wasn’t kind to the Tigers, but it wasn’t too harsh either, which is music to the 45-year-old’s ears ahead of his sophomore season. Now, Johnson has received some more good news as one of his veteran centerpieces opted to return for the 2023 campaign.
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LSU Baseball star Gavin Dugas will return for one last season in Baton Rouge
Outfielder Gavin Dugas announced that he would be returning to LSU for his fifth and final season to play for the Tigers in 2023. In an announcement on his Instagram, the redshirt senior made his decision official with the caption “One last ride!” followed by some emojis and a #GeauxTigers:
Dugas has steadily improved as a collegiate player throughout his career in Baton Rouge. The fifth-year slugger was on track for a huge 2022 campaign before a thumb injury sidelined him for a huge chunk of the season. Dugas only appeared in 39 games in total, but he did manage to slash .306/.479/.519 with five home runs. The 2021 season gave us a real glimpse into what the outfielder is capable of during an entire year when he’s healthy. Dugas hit .295 with 19 home runs and 66 RBIs (led the SEC) during Mainieri’s last season with the Tigers. Johnson will be hoping he can reach those levels from the plate once again next season.
The veteran means so much more to LSU though. He wore the prestigious No. 8 jersey during the 2022 season, which is essentially baseball’s equivalent of the Tigers’ No. 18 in football. It doesn’t necessarily go to the best player on the team, but rather “…the upperclassman who exemplifies the spirit of LSU Baseball through his leadership and dedication to the program,” according to an excerpt on the LSU Sports website. Dugas is the most recent in a long line of Tigers legends who have worn the shirt. This list includes individuals such as Mikie Mahtook, Alex Bregman, Antoine Duplantis and more. There is no word yet on if he will retain the jersey in 2023.
Dugas was not selected in the recently concluded MLB Draft, which undoubtedly factors into his decision to return to school. However, the driving force behind his choice is likely his desire to win. The Tigers haven’t made it to Omaha since they finished runners up in 2017. This means that, despite playing for one of the best programs in the history of the sport, Dugas hasn’t gotten the opportunity to help LSU reach the historic tournament. He will look to do so in his final year as Johnson and the Tigers look to improve upon last season’s results.
What are your expectations for the veteran during his final season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!