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SEC Baseball 2011 Preview: LSU Tigers

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RECORD LAST YEAR: 41-22
LSU had a mildly disappointing season by the Bayou Bengals' standards before sweeping to the SEC tournament championship, punching their ticket to the NCAA Regionals in Los Angeles. After an opening-game win against UC-Irvine, the Tigers lost two straight and returned home.
KEY LOSS: Micah Gibbs
The third-round draft choice hit .388/.458/.592 -- but for a second-place finish in slugging, that would be tops for all regular starters in all three categories. He also slammed 10 home runs and played catcher.
KEY RETURN: Mikie Mahtook
And no one who's paid attention to LSU baseball of late should be surprised to see this name here. Mahtook batted .345/.433/.623 -- he was the guy that beat out Gibbs in slugging percentage -- and clubbed 14 home runs in an impressive sophomore campaign.
TOUGHEST NON-CONFERENCE SERIES: CAL STATE-FULLERTON (3/11-3/13)
The Titans, a longstanding college baseball powerhouse, come to Alex Box Stadium for a three-game set against the Tigers. This is a marquee non-conference game, but LSU best not spend too much energy trying to win; Florida comes to town the following weekend.
TOUGHEST SEC SERIES: at VANDERBILT (4/22-4/24)
The Bengals manage to avoid the Gamecocks out of the East and get the series against Florida at home, but they have to travel to Nashville to face the Commodores in a midseason matchup that could come with plenty of hype and championship implications.
GOING TO HOOVER? Almost a sure bet
Even in a relatively down year like 2010, the Tigers still made it to the SEC tournament. No reason to think that 2011 will be any different.
NCAAs? Probably
LSU is good enough to get to the Regionals without making a move in Hoover; they should be playing for seeding by then.