EUNICE, La. – 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.
LSUE ended the 2020 campaign a perfect 21-0 before the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bengals were on pace to break several single-season offensive records including a pair of player of the year candidates in River Town and Jack Merrifield (Prairieville, LA, Dutchtown HS).
Merrifield (.467 batting average, 32 RBI, 27 runs) leads a veteran Bengals bunch, welcoming back five of the top six hitters from last year’s team as well as ten players that started a game last year. The pitching staff returns two of its weekend arms, Drew Lasseigne (Greenwell Springs, LA, Central HS) and Jerry Couch (Bossier City, LA, Airline HS), as well as top relief arm Jacob Hammond.
The Bengals will return to the field next week for the start of the 2021 season with a three-game series against LSU Alexandria. A schedule announcement will be made later this week.