Three Louisiana teams made the Collegiate Baseball preseason top-40 poll, including a pair of top-10 teams in Louisiana-Lafayette and LSU.
The Ragin’ Cajuns checked in at No. 6, with LSU falling in right behind at No. 7. Tulane closed the state’s strong showing at No. 19.
Southeastern Louisiana received votes in the poll, which is put together through votes from Division I coaches across the country based on how a team finished last season, returning players, potential draft picks and the strength of the incoming freshman class.
The No. 6 ranking was the highest ever in a preseason poll for the Cajuns, who return the majority of their super regional team.
Coach Tony Robichaux said it was an honor to be ranked that highly but stressed that there was still much work to be done.
“The thing about rankings is that they don’t win games for you,” he said in a news release. “We have to make sure that we don’t get caught up in everything and continue to work hard to back up our ranking. The most important ranking to us is the one at the end of the year.”
The Cajuns added a highly regarded recruiting class to a strong corps of returning players. All three members of their weekend rotation return — including Sun Belt Freshman of the Year Gunner Leger — as well as Freshman All-America closer Dylan Moore and sluggers Stefan Trosclair and Kyle Clement.
LSU is in roughly the same spot as the Cajuns in the rankings but facing much different circumstances. The majority of the Tigers lineup that bounced the Cajuns from the NCAA tournament to reach the College World Series is gone, with outfielder Jake Fraley serving as the lone returning starter from last season’s everyday lineup.
“The fact that we’re ranked No. 7 is sign of respect for our program, considering we have to replace so many players from last year’s lineup,” coach Paul Mainieri said in a news release. “We’re proud of the recognition; now it’s our job to uphold our tradition of excellence.”
The cupboard isn’t bare for LSU, which also brought in a strong recruiting class and returns one of the nation’s better Friday-Saturday pitching combinations in Alex Lange and Jared Poché.
Lange was 12-0 with a sterling 1.97 ERA last season on his way to national Freshman of the Year honors, striking out 131 in 114 innings. The left-handed Poché has an 18-5 career record heading into his junior season.
Tulane returns seven everyday position players from last year’s 35-win team as well as the majority of its pitching staff. Shortstop Stephen Alemais is the most accomplished of Tulane’s returning position players after batting .312 with 43 runs a year ago.
The Green Wave’s rotation will look virtually identical to last season’s; its returning pitchers accounted for 59 of the team’s 60 starts a year ago.
Florida earned the top spot in the rankings, followed by Louisville, Vanderbilt, Miami and Texas A&M.