LAFAYETTE – Every member of the Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team’s 2015 signing class opted to play collegiately instead of professionally, and that helped the group earn a high grade.
Collegiate Baseball magazine ranked the Cajuns’ class as the 13th best in nationally Tuesday, ahead of powerhouse programs such as Texas, North Carolina and Florida State.
The class was ranked second-highest among schools not from power football conferences, with only South Florida (9) of the American Athletic Conference ranking higher. The Cajuns were also the only Sun Belt Conference school ranked among the top 40.
“I think anytime you get ranked in something its good,” UL-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux said. “They don’t list my name on it, they list the university’s name, and that’s really great. I have to commend my entire coaching staff because that’s where a lot of the credit goes in recruiting. Those guys, Anthony Babineaux and Jeremy Talbot, spent a lot of time on the road. They spent a lot of time on the phone, and spent a lot of time sitting in baseball stadiums in 100-degree heat. I think you have to give those guys a lot of credit for all they have endured and given up to recruit for the university and bring in this class. It’s rewarding to know that your hard work has paid off.”
The Cajuns’ 17-man class is balanced between potential stars in the field and on the mound.
Pitchers Nick Lee and Hogan Harris were regarded as two of the top pitching prospects in the state and should add some needed depth to what was already a rock-solid pitching staff.
Steven Sensley, who turned down a pro contract with the Tampa Bay Rays after they selected him in the 38th round, is a powerful hitter from the left-handed hitter who could potentially plug a hole at first base for the Cajuns.
Sensley, a former University High player, hit .374 with 21 home runs for LSU-Eunice last season.
LSU ranked 7th nationally
The Tigers were ranked No. 7 by the publication, coming off a top-ranked class in 2014.
LSU signed 16 players this season, a group headlined by infielder Tre Dawson and right-handed pitchers Cole McKay and junior college transfer Riley Smith.
The 6-foot-5 McKay regularly throws in the low to mid 90s, with an ability to bump 96 on the radar gun. While Smith isn’t a soft thrower, sitting comfortably in the low 90s, he also boasts solid secondary pitches and fits pitching coach Alan Dunn’s aggressive style.
Dawson, a slick-fielding infielder, could fill the shortstop spot vacated by Alex Bregman, the No. 2 pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft. He’s one of several position players who could have a shot to contribute early, as Jake Fraley is the only regular returning from last season’s College World Series team.
As an insight into why the Southeastern Conference has remained ultra competitive over the years, LSU’s No. 7 national ranking was just the fifth best in the SEC according to the publication’s rankings.
Four of the top five schools hail from the SEC, with Florida taking the top spot for the second time in the past three years.
Also ahead of LSU were South Carolina (2), Mississippi State (3) and Vanderbilt (5). Auburn’s class (10) also made the publication’s top 10.