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In Focus: Eades Excels in the Face of Adversity

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Overcoming adversity is something that is never easy for anyone. For sophomore pitcher Ryan Eades it's something he has been forced to do multiple times. Now a weekend starter for the Tigers, nothing appeared to slow him down. The 6-3 righty was not able to pitch his senior year of high school due to a surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing arm.

"I was real eager to get back on the mound after being off for a year," Eades said. "I had my rehab bullpens and stuff like that but without pitching competitively for a year and a half made me really eager. I was ready to get back at it. When I got here I was real excited and I tried to stay positive throughout the whole process because I knew it would be tough coming back from that."

Making the comeback from shoulder surgery was nothing compared to losing his father when he was a young teenager. Eades' father, Ned Eades, passed away in 2004 after battling cancer. Eades said his father, who played for a time in the Cincinnati Reds organization, was his biggest influence in life.

"That's why I have [his initials] written on my hat," Eades explained. "He coached my brother and me; we had a little travel team. He coached high school baseball as well. He taught me the game and about life."

In high school, Eades was a very good two-way player and was named the #1 baseball prospect in Louisiana at the end of his sophomore season. The Slidell native led Northshore High to the state title as a junior, recording 48 strikeouts in 30.1 innings with a 0.92 ERA. While he was unable to be on the mound his senior year because of the shoulder injury, he batted .400 with six home runs and 39 RBI.

In 2008 and 2009, he earned a spot on the All-State First Team and was an All-Metro New Orleans selection. He was a three-time first team All-District selection and in 2009 was awarded a spot on the All Southeast Region First-Team.

Eades' freshman year at LSU was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, as he was rebounding from surgery. He didn't appear to be a force for the Tigers until late in the season, when he earned a spot in the starting rotation and won three of his final four starts. Eades posted a 3-0 mark in his final four starts with 16 strikeouts in 24 innings.

"Last year was kind of up and down a lot at the beginning coming off of labrum surgery," he said. "It was tough figuring things out and getting that muscle memory back. Towards the end of the season things started coming around for me and I started feeling more comfortable and confident in my stuff."

Last summer Eades participated in the Cape Cod League. He was named the 2011 Cape Cod League Pitcher of the Year as he posted a 3-0 mark and a 0.84 ERA in 32.1 innings with seven walks and 23 strikeouts. Baseball America magazine also named him the No. 9 top prospect in Cape Cod. The summer league was very helpful in preparing him for his sophomore season at LSU.

"This summer I just wanted to work on everything, all of my pitches," Eades said. "I just wanted to become a better pitcher and be able to execute my pitches and have good command in my fastball and develop my change-up better. I didn't worry about anything, I just wanted to get better and take that into the fall, and then take that into this spring."

This year Eades has earned a spot as a weekend starter and is proving to be one of the best pitchers in the SEC. The new role has given him more confidence on the mound.

"It shows the coach has a lot of confidence in me and I like that a lot," Eades said. "I just try to go out there every game and give my team the best chance of winning. I want my teammates to, and I think they do, know that I'm going to go out there and battle on every pitch. I want them to have as much confidence in me as I have in them. I think it's coming along well."

Eades has played the hand he was dealt from the start, and he has played it well. Through the first five weeks of the season, he was 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 32.1 innings pitched. He and fellow sophomore pitcher Kevin Gausman are one of the best one-two combinations in the nation. Though faced with much adversity in his life, Ryan Eades has refused to let anything get in the way of his baseball career.

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