Mar 12, 2013 2:48 PM by LSUE Sports Information
A pair of former LSU Eunice baseball players are in the headlines for a pair of national awards thanks to their play at their current collegiate stops. Former Bengal catcher and Eunice native Stuart Turner and Raph Rhymes, a Monroe, La. native, are each on early lists for two of college baseball's biggest awards.
Rhymes, a current LSU standout, was named to the preseason Golden Spikes Award Watch List, given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country.
Turner, in his first season at Ole Miss, was named to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, presented annually to the nation's top collegiate catcher.
The Golden Spikes Watch List features 50 of the nation's top amateur players, and it will be a "rolling" list to ensure that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the award.
Following the release of a second, 60-player Watch List on May 2, USA Baseball officials will announce the 30 semifinalists for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award on May 28. The list of 30 will then be sent to a voting body consisting of past USA Baseball National Team coaches and press officers, members of the media that closely follow the amateur game, select professional baseball personnel and current USA Baseball staff, representing a group of more than 200 voters in total.
The Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher, saw 48 catchers on the initial watch list, and will see the list updated to include other candidates until May 6.
The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists, whom will be announced May 16. Ballots will be sent to the national voting panel at the end of May for a vote to determine the three finalists. The finalists will be announced June 4, and a final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series. All finalists will be brought to Wichita and the winner will be announced at the 16th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 27.
Rhymes, who was named the 2010 Division II National Junior College Player of the Year with the Bengals, was one of seven players who also finished among the final 30 semifinalists for the 2012 Golden Spikes Award last season.
At LSU Eunice, he was also named 2010 NJCAA Division II 1st Team All American as he helped lead the Bengals to the 2010 NJCAA National Championship, batting .483 with 31 doubles, four triples, 12 homers, 98 RBI and 15 steals during that season.
Last season in Baton Rouge, Rhymes was named a First-Team All-American by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, the ABCA and the NCBWA, was the SEC Player of the Year, a Dike Howser Award Finalist, an ABCA First-Team All-South Region selection, and on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
He led the nation in hitting in 2012 with a .431 average, becoming the first LSU player to lead the NCAA in batting average, and he also finished first in the SEC in batting average, first in hits (100), first in on-base pct. (.489), fifth in RBI (53), sixth in slugging pct. (.530) and eighth in total bases (123).
Turner lettered two years at LSU Eunice, helping lead the Bengals to the 2012 NJCAA National Championship, hitting .332 with 49 RBI, 52 runs scored and seven home runs last season.
He was named the Easton Defensive Player of the Year and was also selected as a Rawlings Gold Glove winner and an Academic All-America selection as well during his Bengal career.
Currently, Turner leads the Rebels and the Southeastern Conference with a .491 batting average and a .800 slugging percentage, while also driving in an SEC-best 27 runs through 17 games this season.
Defensively, Turner has matched that offensive production with tremendous play each time out. To date, the junior has thrown out 11-of-15 base runners on steal attempts to lead the SEC in that category.