The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

LSU's Jay Johnson loved almost everything about Hoover

27 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Michael Wade

Welcome to the 2022 SEC Baseball Tournament Blog, your online home for the big news, behind-the-scenes notes and quotes and special moments that make this annual event at the Hoover (Ala.) Met the best college baseball tournament in the nation. Check back for updates each day throughout the week.

Losing to Kentucky and failing to reach the semifinals aside, new LSU coach Jay Johnson thoroughly enjoyed his first visit to the SEC Tournament. He called the atmosphere for Friday night's showdown with No. 1 Tennessee "as close to Omaha outside of Omaha that I've ever been a part of in a college baseball game."

"So credit to the SEC for putting this event on," Johnson said. "From afar, it's always looked awesome. Not only the competition but the venue, how it's run. This is better than Ameritrade, this kind of setup at this point in time."

Johnson would know. He took Arizona teams to the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha twice, including last season.

So nothing against Hoover, but Johnson and the Tigers can't wait to get home. They left for the final regular-season series at Vanderbilt 10 days ago and have lived out of a suitcase since. They also played this tournament without two of their better hitters. Second baseman Cade Doughty dislocated his shoulder at Vanderbilt. Third baseman Jacob Berry suffered a broken finger during batting practice in early May. Berry led the SEC with a .400 batting average in conference play.

LSU rested both players in Hoover, which Johnson likened to the 2019 LSU football team playing without Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase. Johnson said Doughty and Berry will be ready to go when LSU opens NCAA Regional play next Friday. The question is whether the Tigers will have to pack again. The coach made a case for a top 16 seed, which would bring a regional to Alex Box Stadium.

"There's plenty of highlights on that resume," Johnson said, including the sweep at Vanderbilt, a road series win at Florida and a stellar strength of schedule. "I think we're a worthy host, but there's only 16 of those, and we'll see."