Holt a juggernaut in LSU's lineup

Through the early portion of the 2004 season the Tiger lineup has experienced some bouts with inconsistency. Though players like Ryan Patterson, Clay Harris and Matt Liuzza have all had their moments, for the most part the hitting has run hot and cold for Smoke Laval's team. One of the few constants in the batting order has been Tiger center fielder J.C. Holt.

Though he was picked as a preseason All-American by Baseball America, Holt has never been known for a hot start at the plate. In 2003 Holt spent most of the first half of the season near the bottom of the team in batting average and near the top in strikeouts. But the Sieper, La. native caught fire near the end of the season, and was eventually named Most Outstanding Player of the 2003 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.


After the Tigers' premature exit from the College World Series Holt joined several of his teammates in the Cape Cod League, a wooden-bat summer league for the nation's top collegiate players. Holt's hot streak continued in New England as he was named MVP of the league after batting a league-high .388 with 19 RBI, 25 runs and 13 steals.


Holt says that during his struggles he forgot how to have fun with baseball, but that in the second half of last season he learned how to relax. He now says that learning a more patient approach at the plate has helped his success carry over to the 2004 season.


"I just try to work on certain things," Holt says. "I keep trying to work deeper into the count and take a lot of pitches."


Holt currently leads the team at the plate with a .425 batting average, and is tied for the team lead in runs with 20. His 13 RBIs is one of the highest totals on the team, and he's tied for most multi-hit games on the team with ten.


He got off to a hot start against Southeastern in game one, going three of five at the plate, including his first home run of the season. In the bottom of the first Holt roped a 2-2 fastball over the left field wall kicking off the scoring for LSU in the 7-1 victory. He also had his first triple of the season and finished a double away from hitting the cycle. His slugging percentage on the year is a surprising .571, second to Jon Zeringue.


Holt says the key for him is to remain humble right now, and take things on a game-to-game basis.

"I've been feeling really well here lately," he says. "And hopefully I can just stay on that even keel and just keep treating tomorrow like a new day."


Smoke Laval is finding new ways to take advantage of Holt's hot hitting, moving him between his traditional leadoff spot and the two-hole in the lineup depending on the opposing pitcher. This way he can take advantage of Holt's excellent ability to get on base as a means to create more opportunities for other hitters.


"He kind of told me he was going to do that before the season," Holt says of Laval's ploy. "Against lefties I'll bat second and maybe we can control the bat a little more maybe bunt guy's over in certain situations. It really doesn't make that much of a difference to me. Either way you're just trying to get on for the guys behind you."


On the base paths Holt is a blur, and his excellent speed makes him one of most dangerous players in the SEC when he gets on. Holt leads LSU with five stolen bases. Once he reaches a bag Holt is usually given the green light to take the next base, but more often then not it's just the threat of running that can help the runner behind him.


"I always try to give pitchers the same look whether I'm going to steal or not," Holt says. "I just try to get out there and bounce around a little bit. If he thinks I'm going to go maybe he'll rush it to the plate a little bit, or maybe he'll leave a hanging breaking ball to (Blake) Gill or Patterson or Zeringue and maybe they can hit it out of the ballpark or hit it in the gap."


Holt's hot start has also extended to his play in center field. His great speed has made him one of the best outfielders in the country, and thus far he's lived up to that billing with a perfect fielding percentage. Holt treats his play out in the field just like he does at the plate, with a blue-collar work ethic and a one-play-at-a-time approach.


"It's just going to work out in the outfield," Holt says. "You just have to make sure you get your jump and get to the ball on each hit."

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