With Mardi Gras in the rearview mirror, spring in Louisiana can now focus on college baseball, set to get underway Friday for local colleges.
As has become the expectation, LSU is a preseason favorite to reach the College World Series in Omaha, ranked as high as fifth in two separate polls. Paul Mainieri's Tigers will rely on the strong pitching of sophomore Alex Lange and junior Jared Poche as an offense full of newcomers gains experience throughout the season.
Tulane saw instant results under first year head coach David Pierce in 2015 and is tabbed to finish second in the American by the conference's coaches. Junior shortstop Stephen Alemais continues to garner individual recognition, being named to D1 Baseball's Preseason Second-Team All-American list.
In Hammond, Matt Riser's Lions could not translate a record-breaking 25-5 run through the 2015 Southland schedule into a NCAA Tournament berth but will enter this season as favorites to repeat in conference. Senior Pitcher Kyle Cedotal was named a Preseason All-American by the National College Baseball Writers' Association.
Nicholls State is looking to build off last year's third place finish in the Southland but has only been voted to finish fifth by the conference coaches. 2015 saw Seth Thibodeaux's Colonels upset LSU in a midweek game and sweep their series against UL-Lafayette. Seniors Justin Sinibaldi and Kyle Reese were both named Preseason First Team All-Southland.
UNO embarks on a new chapter of the storied program's history under first year head coach Blake Dean, a former LSU slugger. After two years as an assistant to legendary coach Ron Maestri, Dean will look to improve on the Privateers' 14-40 record and could get a big boost from his younger brother, Dakota, who comes to the Lakefront after one year at Northwest Florida State Junior College, following his freshman year at LSU.