BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The Southeastern Conference baseball coaches voted LSU as the second-place team in the Western Division in the league’s 21st annual preseason poll released Monday.
The Tigers, ranked No. 8 nationally by Baseball America and No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball, open the 2012 season at 7 p.m. Friday versus Air Force in Alex Box Stadium.
LSU features 21 lettermen from last season’s squad, including 10 position players with starting experience and eight pitchers that have recorded innings for the Tigers. The veterans are complimented by a talented group of 14 newcomers that comprised one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.
The Florida Gators are predicted to repeat as the 2012 Southeastern Conference baseball champions, as voted by the league’s 12 coaches.
The Gators, ranked No. 1 nationally in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll, seek to capture their 13th SEC Championship. UF returns seven position starters and nine pitchers from its 2011 squad which claimed a share of the overall SEC Championship and advanced to the College World Series finals versus South Carolina.
In addition to picking a preseason SEC champion, the league’s head coaches voted a predicted order of finish in the SEC Eastern and Western Divisions. In the Western Division, Arkansas was the favorite with 64 of a possible 66 points. LSU came in second with 58 points and Alabama third with 38. Florida was the favorite in the Eastern Division with all 66 points. South Carolina, the two-time defending National Champions, was second with 56, while Georgia finished third with 42.
Points were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
The 2012 SEC regular season begins Friday, February 17, with conference play set to begin Friday, March 16. The SEC Tournament will be played at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., May 22-27. The 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament drew nearly 100,000 fans. Six times in the last nine years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance.
The 2010 event drew close to 130,000 fans, an all-time record. An NCAA-record of over two million fans attended games in the SEC last season, the 10th year in a row the SEC has topped the one million mark in attendance, leading the nation once again in that category by a wide margin.
2012 SEC Coaches Preseason Poll
Team Pts. '11 SEC Rec/Finish
1) Florida 66 22-8 / T-1st
2) S. Carolina 56 22-8 / T-1st
3) Georgia 42 16-14 / 4th
4) Vanderbilt 40 22-8/T-1st
5) Kentucky 25 8-22 / 5th
6) Tennessee 18 7-23 / 6th
Team Pts. '11 SEC Rec/Finish
1) Arkansas 64 15-15 / 1st
2) LSU 58 13-17 / T-5th
3) Alabama 38 14-16 / T-2nd
4) Ole Miss 34 13-17 / T-5th
5) Miss. State 33 14-16 / T-2nd
6) Auburn 20 14-16 / T-2nd