Three strikes: LSU vs. Oklahoma

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri throws batting practice Thursday at Alex Box Stadium as the Tigers prepare for Friday's super regional game against Oklahoma.
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU coach Paul Mainieri throws batting practice Thursday at Alex Box Stadium as the Tigers prepare for Friday's super regional game against Oklahoma.

BY SCOTT RABALAIS

Advocate sportswriter

1. WHAT WE KNOW

At 55-9, LSU is enjoying one of the best seasons in school history. But much of it will be for naught if the Tigers don’t return to the College World Series. LSU hasn’t been to the CWS since winning the last of its six national championships in 2009. A loss to Oklahoma (43-19) would mark the longest drought without a CWS appearance for LSU since the Tigers made their first appearance in 1986.

2. What’s at stake

A trip to the College World Series, which begins June 15 in Omaha, Neb. The Tigers are seeking their 16th College Word Series appearance, the Sooners their 11th. The LSU-Oklahoma winner gets the winner of the Cal State Fullerton-UCLA super regional, which also begins Friday.

3. Trending now

Oklahoma Friday night starting pitcher Jonathan Gray (10-2, 1.59 ERA). He went third overall in Thursday’s MLB draft and will be a major obstacle in LSU’s hopes to reach Omaha. His matchup with LSU ace Aaron Nola (11-0, 1.82) is one of the premier showdowns of the entire super regional round.