Raph Rhymes heads into the SEC season in lofty offensive company.
The LSU right fielder is second in the league in batting average (.463) and hits (31) and ranks third with 25 RBIs.
Rhymes has nine multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games, leading the Tigers in both categories. Since moving to the cleanup spot in the batting order, Rhymes is hitting at a blistering .490 clip with 13 runs scored and 21 RBIs.
Teammate Mason Katz isn’t far behind, hitting .390 (ninth in the league) and has produced 7 doubles, which is tied for fifth. His 20 runs are tied for third.
In the pitching stats, it doesn’t take long to find Tigers’ ace Kevin Gausman. He is tied for second in wins (4) and strikeouts (31), second alone in innings pitched (27.1) and fourth in ERA (1.32).
Aaron Nola, who is slated to make his SEC debut Sunday, is fifth in opponent batting average (.169) and seventh in ERA (1.80). Ryan Eades is fourth in innings (25.1) and tied for 11th in strikeouts (25).
SEC rules limit coaches to 27 players for conference weekends.
The Tigers on the roster for this weekend are:
Position players – Ty Ross, Jordy Snikeris, Mason Katz, Tyler Moore, Grant Dozar, JaCoby Jones, Casey Yocom, Austin Nola, Tyler Hanover, Jared Foster, Chris Sciambra, Raph Rhymes, Alex Edward, Arby Fields and Jackson Slaid
“Last year I thought last one or two pitchers didn’t have a chance to pitch on the weekend,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “This year, I look at the 12 and feel like we can go to any of those guys. The depth is there.”
Sciambra seems to have solidified his spot as a starter in center field, playing solid defense since moving into the lineup nine games ago.
Now, looking a little more comfortable as a hitter as well, Sciambra might be poised to move into a more prominent spot in the batting order as well.
He batted leadoff against Northwestern State and went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. He is hitting .333 (7-for-21) in the last five games
Fellow freshman Jared Foster has only four hits in his last 30 at-bats over 10 games, nine hitting from the top spot. Foster has struggled against right-handed pitching on particular, going 7-for-32 (.219).
Sciambra, who has filled the nine-hole in nine of his 10 starts, hits left-handed and is on par with Foster speed-wise.
“Wherever Coach Mainieri needs me to hit, I’m fine,” Sciambra said Wednesday. “I’m comfortable in the leadoff hole. It’s an adjustment because you definitely see some different pitches there.”
Mainieri said he considers the nine-hole spot a second leadoff hitter and is confident the Tigers will be fine with Sciambra and Foster in either spot.
“I’ve been thinking about moving Sciambra there, but Jared would still have a spot,” Mainieri said. “I can flip-flop those guys and I think we’d the same kind of production from both of them.”