BATON ROUGE – Cade Beloso jumped off the ground on his way out of the team huddle.
It was Opening Day for LSU baseball in 2021 and the Tigers were about to embark on their first season under coach Jay Johnson. But just as LSU's year was about to begin, Beloso's was essentially over in a flash.
On his way to the ground, Beloso landed on someone's foot. The awkward touchdown resulted in Beloso tearing his ACL and meniscus. He had two at-bats while playing with the injury but eventually elected to undergo season-ending surgery.
The injury obviously put Beloso in a difficult spot — not just physically, but also mentally.
"When you go through times of struggle, you're stuck in like a quicksand box and you're trying so hard to get out and you're just getting dragged back down," Beloso said in a video feature for SEC Network.
That's why, after undergoing surgery, Beloso started speaking with LSU sports psychologist Christine Sotile once a week to help him with his mental recovery state of mind, he said in the feature. The therapy sessions worked for him, as he still speaks with Sotile weekly two years following the injury and a year since he's fully recovered, he told SEC Network.
"It's a no-brainer for me to tell my story. ... Mental health matters." @LSUbaseball's Cade Beloso shared how seeing a sports psychologist changed his perspective on life, and helped make him a better baseball player. pic.twitter.com/Mp2hEmxyZp
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 26, 2023
"We talk a lot about perspective," Beloso said to SEC Network. "Christine told me one time 'You're not going to quit when things don't go your way, you're just going to put your head down and work hard.' "
But Beloso isn't the only member of the Tigers who has reached out for mental help. Teammates, including Tre Morgan and Gavin Dugas, have also resorted to focusing on their mental health.
"As far as what we do, the well-being of our players and them having the peace of mind to go out on the field and be the best they can be and off the field be the best they can be like, that's the most important part of coaching," Johnson said on Monday.
It's a part of what has helped LSU get to where it is today, as an NCAA Regional host and the No. 5 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers begin their road to Omaha on Friday in the Baton Rouge Regional against Tulane (2 p.m., ESPNU).
According to Dugas, mental health isn't something the team talks about regularly as a group. But LSU's culture is such that therapy is certainly supported within the team.
Dugas, who is also Beloso's best friend, said that he began speaking with someone while figuring out his left eye issue over the fall and when he was working through his shoulder injury this season.
"It's huge," Dugas said. "The mental part of the game has a very big impact on players, on teams."
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Morgan began speaking with a person last season while he was playing through a knee injury. By sharing his feelings about the awkwardness of trying to perform while not being 100% physically, he was able to keep a clear head while out on the field.
"We all want to be successful every day, every time we step in there," Morgan said. "And we all want to play, every day. And sometimes it doesn't work out like that.
"So being able to show up and talk to somebody... that is huge."
Therapy has helped Beloso not just off the field, but also on it. Despite missing almost the entirety of last season, he has a 1.067 on-base plus slugging percentage and a career-high 11 home runs.
With his mental state in good shape, Beloso told SEC Network that he doesn't press or worry at the plate anymore.
He plays free.
"My whole perspective in life completely changed," Beloso said on the feature. "And I think that's helped my baseball game, too."
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU baseball: Cade Beloso, Tre Morgan and Gavin Dugas on mental health