Taylor Schwaner is the starting third baseman for Southeastern.
Derrick Mount is also the starting third baseman for Southeastern.
Mount began the season as the everyday starter, but Schwaner dethroned him by the beginning of conference play in March. Schwaner then started 18 of the next 19 games.
But over the past 11 games, as the Lions fight in a closely contested Southland Conference race, the two players split the job nearly evenly — six starts for Schwaner, five for Mount.
In total, Schwaner has gotten the nod 24 times to Mount’s 18. Neither player has gotten the chance to get into the rhythm of an everyday starter.
From the outside, Riser’s vision for third base may seem a little hazy, as if he can’t make a decision about who the full-time starter should be.
But there’s a method to Riser’s madness: His decision was to not make a decision at all.
“Both are really good players and bring different strengths to it,” Riser said. “We’ll play the hot hand like we do at all the other positions.
“That’s the fortune of having too many guys. We knew we were going to do this throughout the year. ... Having this much depth and having this many guys that have experience in big ballgames and as talented as they are, we knew we were going to be able to mix and match a lot.”
Mount is the more defense-savvy of the players, which makes him the preferable option when the Lions face a strong pitcher and a run or two on defense could be the difference in the game.
He also has a stronger arm than Schwaner, acting as a two-way player for Southeastern out of the bullpen.
Mount has only pitched 10.1 innings this season but said he believes his work as a reliever and backup closer contributed to diminished playing time at third base — particularly in recent weeks as Southeastern tries to build a more consistent bullpen.
“It’s different, but being part of a great program like this, you have to do what it takes to win,” Mount said. “If coach feels like we should split, then we split. You can’t be selfish about it. When one person is in the dugout, they have to be helping the other person doing stuff.”
Schwaner, on the other hand, plays when Riser thinks the Lions need a boost at the plate.
Schwaner is hitting .294 this season compared to Mount who is hitting .235. (Mount’s averged has increased after he went 5-for-12 over his past four starts).
The Lions also play better with Schwaner in the lineup, going 19-5 with him at the corner. Southeastern is 10-8 when Mount starts.
“Just going out there and competing with (Mount) is a lot of fun,” Schwaner said. “I like competition and it makes us better. Every time we go out there, we just try to help each other out.
“You have to go into every game like you’re starting.”
Schwaner and Mount will continue to split time as the Lions hunt for a second consecutive regular-season Southland title.
Southeastern can extend its lead in the conference standings this weekend when it travels to Lamar, which is two games back in third place.
“The neat thing about playing the opponent right behind you is you can separate yourself a little bit,” Riser said. “They can do whatever they want when you’re not playing each other. ... but all the control is in our hands now. If we can take care of business, we can separate ourselves from Lamar.”