What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Sophomore outfielder Chris Sciambra might know that sentiment better than anyone on the LSU baseball team. After breaking his neck at the beginning of last season, he has returned to a starting role in the outfield and is the Tigers’ leadoff hitter.
Sciambra made it on base in all of LSU’s first four games and leads the team with a .583 batting average. He looks to extend his hitting streak Thursday when LSU (4-0) takes on BYU (2-2) at 6:30 p.m. in Alex Box Stadium.
When Sciambra slammed into the center field wall during a game at Auburn last March, he had just started to adapt to college ball.
“I was really starting to hit my stride, but that’s still something that I’m not comfortable with right now despite I’ve been playing pretty well,” Sciambra said. “But there’s plenty of things that I still can improve in my game.”
But senior infielder Mason Katz said Sciambra has taken this season by storm. Katz said his return after such a serious neck injury to start in the outfield is incredible.
“[Sciambra] deserves it,” Katz said. “He worked so hard to get back. Not only get back to playing shape and stability but … winning an outfield job.”
Not only does Sciambra offer the Tigers another veteran presence on a relatively young roster, he also solidified the top of the batting order. Katz said Sciambra’s job in the leadoff position is different than what he experiences as the fifth batter in the order, which allows Katz to watch the pitcher’s tendencies and early throws. Sciambra has to be more selective about swinging.
“I’m really just trying to get on base and set the table for those guys and let them just swing away and drive me in,” Sciambra said. “I’m not going to be a free swinger.”
Despite having seven games in nine days, Sciambra said the schedule is what the team needs to get game instincts back. After the BYU game Thursday, the Tigers will have a game against Southeastern University on Friday evening and a game against BYU on Saturday evening.
“I love where our team is. I feel like we’re right where we’re supposed to be,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Four games into the year, you get the initial jitters of the season out of the way. You start to settle into the season.”
Mainieri is painfully familiar with the BYU program from his time coaching at Air Force.
“They were a big nemesis of mine. I think we lost 14 straight games to BYU,” Mainieri said. “We just didn’t have a lot of success. … I’m looking forward for an opportunity to getting back at those Cougars.”