LSUE Baseball Ranked #1 in All Polls, Have 3 Preseason All-Americans
After an undefeated season was cut short, all major outlets project LSU Eunice to pick up where it left off with a number one ranking in all preseason polls. The Bengals garnered top billing in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper rankings last month and were placed atop the polls on Tuesday by both the NJCAA and The JBB.
The Bengals were last ranked number one in all three polls before the 2019 season.
It’s the fifth time under Jeff Willis LSUE has been given top billing in the NJCAA poll. The Bengals have been ranked first or second in the NJCAA poll for the last 16 years.
“These rankings are largely on what last year’s team was able to do and I think our guys understand that,” LSU Eunice head coach Jeff Willis said. “This is a new team and they have a lot of work that needs to be done if they want to accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves.”
LSU Eunice is also tabbed seventh in the release of the Perfect Game Top 25, encompassing all divisions and organizations of junior college baseball. They are the highest-ranked team in NJCAA Division II.
Three LSU Eunice baseball players have been named a preseason All-American by “The JBB”, the Junior College baseball media outlet announced this week. The Bengals’ three selections are the most of any school in the preseason list.
Relief pitcher Jacob Hammond was named the National Pitcher of the Year while Hunter Tabb and Jack Merrifield were also named to the list.
“These young men will be vital to our success both for their production on the field and their leadership,” LSU Eunice head coach Jeff Willis said. “They could have left for the four-year level but chose to stay here at LSUE and finish some of the goals they have set for themselves and this team.”
Hammond enjoyed a breakout 2020 shortened season, finishing top 20 in wins and top 10 in strikeouts from a relief pitcher position. His final stat line was a 3-0 record with 0.93 earned run average to go along with 36 strikeouts and .176 batting average against.
Merrifield was tops in the nation during the 2020 campaign with 32 RBIs before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The infielder was also fourth in hits (35), 16th in stolen bases (13) and 9th in runs scored (27).
Tabb, a two-year starter, has been one of the most consistent contributors in his time with the Bengals. The Acadiana HS product ended last season with a .387 batting average in addition to 25 runs scored, three doubles, three home runs and 18 RBIs.
LSUE was 21-0 and ranked number one in the nation before the season came to an abrupt end. The Bengals find themselves in familiar territory as the number one ranked team in three major NJCAA preseason polls and seventh overall among all junior college divisions and affiliations according to Perfect Game.
The Bengals start the season next Friday with the start of a weekend series against LSU Alexandria.
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