Atop the heap: Collegiate Baseball selects LSU No. 1 in 2023 preseason poll

LSU is the No. 1 ranked team in the 2023 Collegiate Baseball newspaper preseason poll released Tuesday, marking the 11th time in 12 seasons the Tigers will begin the year among the Top 10 teams in the nation.

The top ranking represents LSU’s first appearance at No. 1 in a preseason poll since 2019.

LSU begins its 2023 season Feb. 17, playing host to Western Michigan in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

“We had a very productive fall, and that’s a credit to the players,” LSU second-year baseball coach Jay Johnson. “We have a ton of new players, so building a concept of team with our outstanding group of returning players was a priority. We’ve learned a lot about our team, but we’re probably not quite ready to play a game.

“We were more deliberate in our teaching this year because of the amount of new players that we have, but the work was high-quality and led to lot of productivity,” Johnson said. “We’ll be ready to roll when the players return to campus in January.”

LSU returns six position players that started in a significant number of the Tigers’ 62 games last season, including junior centerfielder Dylan Crews, a 2023 preseason All-American, the 2022 SEC Co-Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American last season.

Crews is joined by several other accomplished veterans like junior first baseman/preseason All-American Tre’ Morgan, senior outfielder/infielder Gavin Dugas, junior shortstop Jordan Thompson, junior outfielder/DH Brayden Jobert and sophomore outfielder Josh Pearson.

Other position players with starting experience include junior catchers Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski, senior first baseman/DH Cade Beloso, sophomore outfielder Josh Stevenson and senior infielder Jack Merrifield.

The veterans are joined by several talented newcomers, including impact transfers like utility player/pitcher/preseason All-American Paul Skenes (Air Force), infielder/preseason All-American Tommy White (North Carolina State and infielder Ben Nippolt (Virginia Commonwealth).

A group of skilled LSU true freshmen features infielder Gavin Guidry, outfielders Paxton Kling, Mic Paul and Zeb Ruddell, and catchers Brady Neal, Jared Jones and Ethan Frey.

The Tigers’ pitching staff boasts eight hurlers that recorded innings last season, including junior right-handers Ty Floyd, Blake Money, Bryce Collins, Will Hellmers and Garrett Edwards, junior left-hander Riley Cooper, and sophomore right-handers Grant Taylor and Sam Dutton. Left-hander Javen Coleman, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, is expected to miss this season and return to the staff in 2024.

High-profile transfers like right-handers Thatcher Hurd (UCLA) and Christian Little (Vanderbilt) are projected to make an immediate impact upon the staff.

The staff features a talented group of true freshmen pitchers that includes left-handers Griffin Herring, Nic Bronzini and DJ Primeaux, and right-handers Chase Shores, Jaden Noot, Micah Bucknam and Aiden Moffett. A pair of JUCO transfers – left-hander Nate Ackenhausen and right-hander Kaleb Applebey – will also bolster the staff.

LSU is scheduled to play exactly half of its 56-game regular-season schedule – 28 games – against teams ranked in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.

Collegiate Baseball 2023 Preseason Top 50

Rank     Team (2022 Final Record)

  1. LSU (40-22)
  2. Florida (42-24)
  3. Stanford (47-18)
  4. Texas A&M (44-20)
  5. Tennessee (57-9)
  6. Louisville (42-21-1)
  7. Arkansas (46-21)
  8. Miami, Fla. (40-20)
  9. Vanderbilt (39-23)
  10. Wake Forest (41-19-1)
  11. North Carolina (44-22)
  12. Oklahoma St. (42-22)
  13. UCLA (40-24)
  14. U.C. Santa Barbara (44-14)
  15. Texas Christian (38-22)
  16. Virginia (39-19)
  17. Texas Tech (39-22)
  18. Southern Miss (47-19)
  19. Oregon (36-25)
  20. East Carolina (46-21)
  21. Maryland (48-14)
  22. Mississippi St. (26-30)
  23. Georgia Tech (36-24)
  24. Mississippi (42-23)
  25. Texas (47-22)
  26. Central Michigan (43-19)
  27. Oregon St. (48-18)
  28. Virginia Tech (45-14)
  29. Rutgers (44-15)
  30. N.C. State (36-21)
  31. Connecticut (50-16)
  32. Florida St. (34-25)
  33. Arizona (39-25)
  34. Houston (37-24)
  35. Georgia Southern (41-20)
  36. Grand Canyon (41-21)
  37. Auburn (43-22)
  38. Gonzaga (37-19)
  39. Georgia (36-23)
  40. Louisiana Tech (43-21)
  41. Dallas Baptist (34-24-1)
  42. Clemson (35-23)
  43. Oklahoma (45-24)
  44. Michigan (34-28)
  45. Davidson (43-13)
  46. Eastern Kentucky (38-20)
  47. South Carolina (27-28)
  48. San Diego (37-20)
  49. Alabama (31-27)
  50. Brigham Young (33-21)

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