Now that the Paul Mainieri era at LSU has come to a close and the Jay Johnson era has officially begun, it’s time to look back on Mainieri’s 15 years in Baton Rouge.
By now we know Paul’s accomplishments at LSU almost to a tee: national champions in 2009 and runners up in 2017; four time SEC champions and six times SEC Tournament champions; LSU was a national seed nine times and advanced to Omaha five times under Mainieri.
But what about the players on the field responsible for all those memories? Let’s take some time to look back on the top players and moments of the last 15 years and beginning our countdown might be a controversial pick: Jared Mitchell.
You won’t find Jared Mitchell’s name atop many of the LSU record books. You won’t find All-American or All-SEC attached to his career resumé. But Jared Mitchell will live on forever in program history as the 2009 College World Series Most Outstanding Player. And to me that can’t be ignored when compiling a list like this.
Maybe Mitchell was a better athlete than pure baseball player. His career numbers at LSU don’t exactly wow, he was a .295 hitter with 20 home runs and 100 RBIs and played 174 games with 163 starts. But 2009, his last season as a Tiger, was when Mitchell put it all together and ultimately became the 23rd overall pick (two picks ahead of Mike Trout!) in that summer’s draft. Mitchell hit a career best .327 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs and stole 36 bases which was at the time the second most in a single season. And not for nothing, Mitchell is second in school history with 70 stolen bases.
In Omaha against Texas was when Mitchell shined the brightest. He hit a game-tying two-run triple in Game One of the series:
And in the winner take all Game Three, Mitchell blew the game open with a three-run home run in the first inning.
Maybe going with a guy who had one truly great season is controversial but being the MVP on the biggest stage is too great of a trump card to not be on a list like this. The next time you’re in Alex Box and looking at The Intimidator remember that Jared Mitchell was one of the biggest reasons why LSU brought home the title in 2009.