Play ball! LSU hosts UNO Friday night in Alex Box Stadium - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Play ball! LSU hosts UNO Friday night in Alex Box Stadium

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

LSU opens the 2014 season Friday night against the UNO Privateers. 

LSU is No. 2 in the 2014 USA Today preseason poll, the Tigers highest ranking since 2010, when the team also began the year at No. 2.

LSU head coach Paul Mainieri enters his eighth season with a highly optimistic outlook as he seeks to lead the Tigers to their second straight College World Series appearance in Omaha, Neb.

"We're very encouraged by the intensity and energy that our team has displayed," said Mainieri, who has directed the Tigers to one national championship, three College World Series appearances, two SEC overall titles, four SEC division titles and four SEC tournament championships in seven seasons. "The fall practice period revealed a lot about our players, and it gives us strong momentum heading into the season. We've learned a lot about the players that can play significant roles for us this spring, and I'm very pleased with the work ethic and chemistry developing within the squad. I think our fans will enjoy watching a very talented and dynamic group of Tigers in 2014."

LSU, the 2013 SEC Western Division and SEC Tournament champion, was the NCAA Tournament No. 4 National Seed last season.  LSU played host to and won both the NCAA Regional and Super Regional and earned the 16th CWS berth in school history. The Tigers' 57 victories last season matched the SEC record, and LSU posted the nation's best winning percentage (57-11, .838).

New Orleans was 7-44 last season; however, the Privateers  have received a boost with the return of Ron Maestri as head coach. Maestri led the UNO baseball program from 1972-85 and enjoyed a successful career as athletic director at the school. Mainieri played two seasons at UNO under Maestri's leadership in 1978 and '79.

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