BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The 2018 LSU Tigers are looking to get back to Omaha this year and it begins Friday night against Notre Dame at Alex Box Stadium.
The Tigers (52-20, 21-9) lost to Florida in the 2017 CWS championship 4-3 and 6-1.
No. 9 LSU will have to replace several key members from last year's squad, including right fielder Greg Deichmann, shortstop Kramer Robertson, second baseman Cole Freeman, catcher Michael Papierski and starting pitchers Alex Lange and Jared Poché.
Notre Dame finished the 2017 season with a 26-32 record and 10-20 in ACC play. The team struggled on the road, losing 16 of 20 ball games.
The Irish lost five pitchers to the Major League Baseball Draft and will rely heavily on its experience in the field and at the plate.
ND returns Matt Vierling (OF), Cole Daily (SS), Nick Podkul (2B) and Eric Gilgenbach (OF).
Vierling hit .330 from the plate last season and hit seven home runs. He also made 10 bullpen appearances, finishing with a 1-1 record, 8.74 ERA and two saves.
Gilgenbach played in 36 games and had a .333 batting average.
The Tigers return Josh Smith (3B), Zach Watson (OF), Antoine Duplantis (OF), Zack Hess (P) and Caleb Gilbert (P).
Also returning for Tigers: Bryce and Beau Jordan, Jake Slaughter, Chris Reid, Nick Coomes, Todd Peterson and Austin Bain.
Eric Walker, a 2017 Freshman All-American, will be sidelined in this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and catcher Hunter Feduccia (broken hand) will also miss this weekend's series.
Game 1: Friday at 7 p.m.
LSU: Caleb Gilbert (7-1, 2.16 ERA)
Notre Dame: Scott Tully (2-0, 3.71 ERA)
Game 2: Saturday at 4 p.m.
LSU: Zack Hess (7-1, 3.12 ERA)
Notre Dame: Tommy Sheehan (making collegiate debut)
Game 3: Sunday at 11 a.m.
LSU: Todd Peterson (3-1, 4.19 ERA)
Notre Dame: Cameron Junker (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
LSU PRESEASON RANKINGS:
No. 9 USA Today
No. 10 Collegiate Baseball
No. 12 Perfect Game
No. 16 D1Baseball.com
No. 17 Baseball America