LSU baseball ranks No. 4 in preseason poll

Bill Franques
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. Photo by

LSU is ranked No. 4 in the 2015 Collegiate Baseball newspaper preseason poll, marking the third straight season the Tigers will begin the year among the Top 4 teams in the nation. LSU was No. 4 in 2013 and No. 3 last season in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.

The Tigers, who have the most wins (150) in the nation over the past three seasons, were the NCAA Tournament No. 8 National Seed in 2014 and won the SEC Tournament for the fifth time in seven years.

LSU is one of three Southeastern Conference teams appearing in the 2015 preseason Top 10, along with No. 1 Vanderbilt and No. 6 Florida.

Other SEC squads appearing in the Top 40 are No. 20 Mississippi State, No. 21 South Carolina, No. 33 Tennessee and No. 36 Arkansas. LSU’s non-conference opponents appearing in the rankings are No. 8 Houston and No. 38 Nebraska.

LSU opens the 2015 season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13 versus Kansas in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

The 2015 roster features 20 lettermen, including 11 position players with starting experience and eight pitchers that have recorded innings for the Tigers. The LSU veterans are complemented by a talented class of 11 newcomers, rated No. 1 in the nation this fall by Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and Baseball America in their annual recruiting rankings.

LSU completed its fall practice session in November, and the Tigers will begin preseason workouts on Jan. 23.

"I think the preseason polls are great,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri, who has directed the Tigers to one national championship, three College World Series appearances, two SEC overall titles, four SEC division titles and five SEC tournament championships in eight seasons. “Besides creating a lot of excitement for the fans, it gives our players a great deal of pride when we are ranked high. To see ‘LSU’ as the fourth-ranked team going into the season is exciting; however, we are not satisfied with that ranking. It just means we only have three spots to go to get to where we ultimately want to be.”

“A lot of the guys we will count on this spring played really well all fall,” Mainieri continued. “What we have to do is continue to get better and get ready for Feb. 13. We’re really fired up about the returning players, and when you add the No. 1-ranked recruiting class, it’s going to be exciting to see how they all blend together. We feel strongly that something special is going to happen with this group.”

LSU features two preseason All-Americans – junior shortstop Alex Bregman, the 2013 Brooks Wallace Award winner as the nation’s best shortstop, and sophomore left-handed pitcher Jared Poche’, a 2014 Freshman All-American.

Other returning position players include senior infielder Conner Hale, senior catcher Kade Scivicque, senior outfielders Chris Sciambra and Jared Foster, junior outfielders Mark Laird and Andrew Stevenson, junior catcher Chris Chinea, sophomore outfielder Jake Fraley, and sophomore infielders Kramer Robertson and Danny Zardon.

Poche’ is joined on the pitching staff by several capable veterans including senior left-handers Kyle Bouman and Zac Person, senior right-hander Brady Domangue, junior left-hander Hunter Devall, and sophomore right-handers Alden Cartwright and Parker Bugg.

A stable of talented young arms including freshmen right-handers Alex Lange, Jake Godfrey and Doug Norman, and freshman left-hander Jake Latz, should make an immediate impact on the mound for the Tigers.

Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division I Pre-Season Poll

(As of Dec. 22, 2014)

Rank, Team (2014 Record), Points

1. Vanderbilt (51-21), 494

2. Texas Christian (48-18), 492

3. Virginia (53-16), 489

4. LSU (46-16-1), 487

5. Oklahoma St. (48-18), 485

6. Florida (40-23), 483

7. Texas (46-21), 480

8. Houston (48-18), 479

9. Texas Tech. (45-21), 477

10. UCLA (25-30-1), 473

11. Florida St. (43-17), 469

12. Louisville (50-17), 468

13. Cal. Poly (47-12), 467

14. Miami, Fla. (44-19), 465

15. Oregon (44-20), 462

16. U.C. Santa Barbara (34-17-1), 460

17. Cal. St. Fullerton (34-24), 458

18. Stanford (35-26), 457

19. Arizona St. (33-24), 454

20. Mississippi St. (39-24), 452

21. South Carolina (44-18), 449

22. Rice (42-20), 446

23. Liberty (41-18), 445

24. North Carolina (35-27), 443

25. College of Charleston (44-19), 440

26. Georgia Tech (37-27), 438

27. Kennesaw St. (40-24), 436

28. Clemson (36-25), 432

29. St. John’s (35-20), 430

30. Kent St. (36-23), 427

31. Ball St. (39-18), 425

32. Wichita St. (31-28), 424

33. Tennessee (31-23), 421

34. San Diego (34-20), 419

35. Loyola Marymount (32-24), 417

36. Arkansas (40-25), 414

37. Maryland (40-23), 412

38. Nebraska (41-21), 411

39. U.C. Irvine (41-25), 409

40. Illinois (32-21), 405