BATON ROUGE, LA — LSU is ranked No. 2 in the 2014 USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll released Wednesday. Cal State Fullerton is No. 1 in the poll, followed by LSU, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Florida State, Virginia, Oregon, Vanderbilt, North Carolina State and UCLA.
The preseason ranking is LSU’s highest since 2010, when the Tigers also began the season at No. 2.
Along with LSU, No. 4 Mississippi State and No. 8 Vanderbilt, SEC teams appearing in the poll include No. 14 South Carolina and No. 20 Florida. Louisiana-Lafayette, a 2014 LSU opponent, is ranked No. 24 in the poll.
LSU, led by eighth-year coach Paul Mainieri, was ranked No. 3 in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper preseason poll released in December and No. 9 in the Baseball America magazine preseason poll released earlier this week.
The Tigers, who began preseason workouts on Saturday, open the 2014 season at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 14 versus New Orleans in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.
The 2014 roster features 18 lettermen, including nine position players with starting experience and nine pitchers that have recorded innings for the Tigers. The LSU veterans are complemented by a talented class of 19 newcomers, rated No. 6 in the nation last month in the annual Perfect Game recruiting ranking.
LSU features two first-team preseason all-Americans – junior pitcher Aaron Nola, the 2013 SEC Pitcher of the Year; and sophomore shortstop Alex Bregman, the 2013 National Freshman of the Year.
Other returning position players include senior all-SEC third baseman Christian Ibarra, senior outfielder Sean McMullen, junior outfielder Chris Sciambra, junior catcher/infielder Tyler Moore, junior outfielder Jared Foster, sophomore outfielder Mark Laird, sophomore outfielder Andrew Stevenson and sophomore catcher Chris Chinea.
Nola is joined on the pitching staff by several capable veterans including senior right-hander Kurt McCune, junior left-hander Cody Glenn and junior right-hander Joe Broussard, who returns this season after receiving a medical redshirt in 2013 due to an elbow injury.