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LSU coach Paul Mainieri talks to his players during the Tigers' 9-4 win against University of South Alabama on Wednesday March 14, 2018, at Alex Box Stadium.

The LSU baseball team enters the 2019 season with high expectations and national championship goals. 

LSU seems to be returning to its powerhouse past as it opens 2019 ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball Fabulous 40 Preseason Poll for the first time since 2009, when the Tigers claimed their sixth national championship. 

“Being ranked No. 1 is always something in which I take a great deal of pride," said coach Paul Mainieri in a news release. "There are 300 Division I baseball playing schools across the country and to think someone believes you are the best team in the land is inspiring.”

Mainieri's squad returns six starting position players — Antoine Duplantis, Zach Watson and Daniel Cabrera, and infielders Josh Smith, Brandt Broussard and Hal Hughes — and a bolstered pitching staff that includes junior right-handed pitcher Zack Hess and a 2018 Freshman All-American right-hander in Ma’Khail Hilliard. 

The pitching staff will also see the return of sophomore right-hander Eric Walker, a 2017 Freshman All-American who missed all of the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery.

The Tigers also add a 16-man recruiting class that was ranked No. 1 in the nation, including seven players who were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft.

The Tigers open the 2019 season on Friday, February 15, against Louisiana-Monroe in Alex Box Stadium.

LSU is one of three Southeastern Conference teams appearing in the Top 10, along with No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 6 Florida.

Six other SEC teams appeared in the Top 40, inlcuding No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 13 Georgia, No. 23 Auburn, No. 25 Arkansas, No. 27 Mississippi State and No. 29 Texas A&M.

Full 2019 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll

Rank, Team (2018 Record), Points

1. LSU (39-27), 496

2. Vanderbilt (35-27), 495

3. UCLA (38-21), 494

4. Texas Tech. (45-20), 491

5. Stanford (46-12), 488

6. Florida (49-21), 487

7. Oregon St. (55-12-1), 485

8. North Carolina (44-20), 482

9. Louisville (45-19), 480

10. Florida St. (43-19), 479

11. Mississippi (48-17), 476

12. Coastal Carolina (43-19), 473

13. Georgia (39-21), 471

14. Texas (42-23), 468

15. Clemson (47-16), 467

16. Oklahoma St. (31-26-1), 464

17. Georgia Tech. (31-21), 462

18. Cal. St. Fullerton (36-25), 460

19. Texas Christian (33-23), 457

20. Duke (45-18), 453

21. Baylor (37-21), 450

22. NC State (42-18), 446

23. Auburn (43-23), 445

24. Missouri St. (40-17), 442

25. Arkansas (48-21), 439

26. Arizona (34-22), 437

27. Mississippi St. (39-29), 434

28. Minnesota (44-15), 430

29. Texas A&M (40-22), 428

30. Southern Miss (44-18), 427

31. Oregon (26-29), 422

32. Connecticut (37-22-1), 419

33. Miami (Fla.) (28-26), 417

34. Illinois (33-20), 411

35. East Carolina (44-18), 409

36. Arizona St. (23-32), 405

37. Stetson (48-13), 403

38. Louisiana-Lafayette (34-25), 399

39. Michigan (33-21), 396

40. Sam Houston St. (39-20), 393

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