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New LSU baseball coach says job ‘opportunity of my lifetime’

June 25, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Saturday, June 19, 2021 file photo, Arizona head coach Jay Johnson speaks to his players in the first inning against Vanderbilt during a baseball game in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. A person with knowledge of the situation says Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson has agreed to leave the Wildcats for the LSU head job that opened up when Paul Mainieri retired after this season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the hiring has not been announced. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz, File)
FILE - In this Saturday, June 19, 2021 file photo, Arizona head coach Jay Johnson speaks to his players in the first inning against Vanderbilt during a baseball game in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. A person with knowledge of the situation says Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson has agreed to leave the Wildcats for the LSU head job that opened up when Paul Mainieri retired after this season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the hiring has not been announced. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Newly hired LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson calls his move from Arizona to the Tigers “the opportunity of my lifetime.”

Johnson was formally named on Friday to the position held for the past 15 years by recently retired coach Paul Mainieri.

“The interest we received from great coaches across the country was significant,” LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward said. “Ultimately, Jay’s track record of postseason success, explosive lineups, and highly-ranked recruiting classes set him apart from the field. He’s made an immediate impact at every program he’s led, and he’s one of the most energetic, innovative, and focused coaches in America.”

The 44-year-old Johnson has spent the past six seasons at Arizona and twice coached the Wildcats to the College World Series, including this season.

Arizona was the CWS runner up to Coastal Carolina in 2016. This year, the Wildcats led the nation in hits and ranked first in the Pac-12 in runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBI, walks, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases, and extra base hits. Their season ended with losses in their first two games in Omaha.

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“I am humbled and honored to be the head baseball coach at LSU and serve as the steward of the next generation of national champions,” said Johnson, who went on to thank LSU for entrusting him “to lead this storied program into its next winning chapter.”

Johnson went 208-114 overall at Arizona after going 72-42 in two seasons at Nevada. He also served as associate head coach at San Diego from 2006 to 2013.

Johnson also has received recognition as a leading recruiter. Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball ranked Johnson’s 2020 signing class fourth best in the nation.

Johnson succeeds a coach in Mainieri who guided LSU to one national title in 2009 and four other College World Series appearances. Mainieri coached in college for 39 seasons and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 2014. He announced his retirement before the NCAA Tournament. He then coached LSU to a super regional before the Tigers bowed out against Tennessee.

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