Tigers ranked No. 2 in Baseball America poll

LSU is ranked No. 2 in the Baseball America magazine pre-season poll released Wednesday. Tulane is No. 1 in the poll, followed by LSU, defending national champion Cal State Fullerton, Texas and Miami (Fla.).

LSU coach Smoke Laval said he was not surprised to see Tulane and LSU ranked 1-2 in the poll.

"It's a tribute to the caliber of baseball we play in Louisiana," said Laval, the 2003 SEC Coach of the Year. "Along with LSU and Tulane, there are several programs in Louisiana that compete at a very high level. There are so many great athletes in our state, and there is a strong commitment to excellence in baseball at all of the Louisiana schools."

LSU and Tulane are scheduled to meet twice during the 2005 regular season – March 8 in Baton Rouge and April 19 at Zephyr Field in Metairie.

The Tigers, who are seeking their third straight College World Series berth, open the ‘05 season on Feb. 11 when they play host to Nicholls State at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.

LSU will play 17 games against teams that appear in the Baseball America Top 25.

Ranked opponents on the Tigers' schedule include No. 1 Tulane, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 9 Arizona State, No. 10 Georgia, No. 16 Ole Miss, No. 17 Vanderbilt and No. 18 Rice.

Laval's first three seasons as coach of the LSU program have produced magnificent results, including College World Series appearances in 2003 and 2004, the 2003 SEC championship, the best winning percentage in conference regular-season games and two SEC Players of the Year.

The task now for Laval and his squad is to perpetuate the success of the past three years, earn a third consecutive trip to the CWS, and mount a serious challenge for the 2005 national championship.

The ‘05 team features 21 returning lettermen -- including eight pitchers and six starters in the batting order – and 16 newcomers (11 high school signees, three JUCO players and two four-year college transfers).

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