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LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri will begin his 13th season on Feb. 15 against UL-Monroe with the Tigers ranked as the top team in the nation, according to a pair of national polls.

By the time the LSU baseball team opens its season Feb. 15 against UL-Monroe, the Tigers will likely be the consensus No. 1 team in the nation.

For the second time in three weeks, coach Paul Mainieri's squad was ranked as the nation's top team — this time by Perfect Game, which released its preseason poll Wednesday.

LSU was also picked as the No. 1 team in the country last month by Collegiate Baseball.

LSU will begin the 2019 season as a top-10 team for the eighth consecutive season. The No. 1 ranking marks the seventh time in 11 years (2009-19) the Tigers have occupied the nation’s top spot at some point in the season.

LSU has earned a No. 1 ranking at some point during the season in seven of the past 11 seasons (2009-19).

The top rankings aren't a surprise. Mainieri's 16-player recruiting class was rated No. 1 in the nation in September.

That group joins a strong cast of returning veterans that played in an NCAA super regional against eventual College World Series champion Oregon State last June. Oregon State is No. 2 in the preseason poll.

Outfielders Antoine Duplantis, Zach Watson and Daniel Cabrera and infielders Josh Smith, Brandt Broussard and Hal Hughes all return as starting position players.

Starting pitchers Zack Hess, Ma’Khail Hilliard and Eric Walker are also back, along with relievers Caleb Gilbert, Todd Peterson, Matthew Beck and Devin Fontenot.

Walker missed the entire 2018 season after having Tommy John surgery.

“I have a sense that we have something special brewing with this team,” Mainieri said when his team was ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball.

LSU is one of four Southeastern Conference teams in the Perfect Game top 10, joining No. 3 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Florida and No. 10 Ole Miss.

Other SEC squads ranked are No. 13 Arkansas, No. 15 Auburn, No. 17 Mississippi State and No. 22 Georgia.


Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.