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LSU Has No Other Solution Than to "Keep Working" on Defensive Miscues

Tigers shifting lineups and putting in work but not seeing the results so far in 2022 season

LSU has been at the forefront of one of the most error plagued teams in the SEC and it's come back to bite this very talented group on more than one occasion. 

But if you talk to any coach or player in that locker room about the defensive miscues, you'll get a very similar answer. They all recognize that this is not the way they should be playing behind the pitchers and it's led to some innings getting out of hand. Routine plays most college players expect to make aren't being executed while communication has been difficult to decipher at times. 

Currently the Tigers have a 95.6% fielding percentage which just barely cracks the top 250 teams in the country while the 44 errors are among the highest in the conference as well. There's no quick fix to some of these issues that have continued to plague the team across the board as there are many more miscues that aren't counted as errors that have come back to bite this team. 

Jay Johnson has said from the beginning how the only way to improve defensively is to just continue to work and it hasn't been for a lack of trying to mix up the lineups in the field. Confidence has been a word that's been brought up many times and Johnson said that very well could be a component to it but doesn't tell the whole story.

"I think so much of baseball is being in the right frame of mind. On defense, there's a little bit of attitude you can have to overcome that but we're gonna have to keep going with it," Johnson said.

"I don't think it's a confidence thing. I think everyone knows we can make plays because there are times where we make plays a lot of other people can't," second baseman Jordan Thompson said. "It's not that, it just comes down to making the play and it doesn't happen every time but we gotta keep working."

Johnson has tried multiple different lineup combinations, shifting Jacob Berry back and forth from the outfield to third base, getting Giovanni DiGiacomo in the outfield for his defensive skills and most recently sticking Cade Doughty at shortstop and Jordan Thompson at second base. 

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"Cade is probably not a shortstop but I trust his toughness, his makeup and he's doing the best job he can. The offensive players that Cade and Jacob are, if they were elite defenders they wouldn't be in college right now," Johnson said. "They are high character guys who are hard workers and we just keep going."

The miscues defensively have also put extended pressure on a pitching staff that is already on the edge of being asked to do more than it can handle. Johnson has been consistent in trying to keep the expectations of this staff limited to some extent as it's been difficult for the Tigers to find a rotation they feel comfortable with. 

In the most recent loss to Auburn, it was a mixed bag in terms of execution on the mound and the added weight that these defensive mistakes only compounds the issues. 

"I've gotta keep guys in their lane with what they can handle. When you ask guys to do more than they're capable of you run into problems," Johnson said. "Our pitching has been fine but when you compound defensive miscues on top of asking guys to do as much as they can, you're putting a lot of pressure [on offense]."

"It can definitely be tough on them so we gotta clean it up for them," Thompson said. "They're working hard for us but it puts a little bit of stress on those pitchers to be a little more perfect so we gotta make those plays so they can be comfortable."

Thompson hasn't lost confidence in his or the team's ability to get this back on a more consistent course. There are times where he knows the team is good defensively as they make plays not many others can. But it's the routine ones that need to grab the player's attention moving forward.

"We've been working hard, been taking a lot of infield but it's something we gotta continue to work on, it's not gonna change overnight," Thompson said. "I feel like we've gotten better but we still need to improve." 

(Photo courtesy of LSUsports)