Ra­zor­backs' Shaddy hits way out of team's 9-hole slot

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - NATE ALLEN

FAYET­TEVILLE - Bat­ting Car­son Shaddy ninth with his fel­low Ra­zor­backs hit­ting well in the pre­ced­ing eight spots de­fined the lux­ury set­ting Arkansas apart in the SEC West.

Pro­mot­ing Shaddy to bat fifth in Satur­day’s SEC dou­ble­header sweep of South Carolina keeps Arkansas elite.

Af­ter fifth-year se­nior sec­ond base­man and Fayet­teville na­tive Shaddy went 1 for 3 with a walk twice to be on first among the four in­nings that Arkansas couldn’t score upon load­ing the bases in last Thurs­day night’s 3-2 loss to South Carolina, Coach Dave Van Horn al­tered the or­der. Shaddy bat­ted fifth Satur­day as af­ter Fri­day night’s rain­out Arkansas, (27-10, 10-5) swept South Carolina, 2-0 and 3-0 in the 7-in­ning games.

Shaddy scored both runs in the 2-0 first-game vic­tory. His sec­ond-in­ning solo home run over left ul­ti­mately proved the game win­ner. Nearly home­r­ing again on a clout to left turned foul lead­ing off the sixth, Shaddy got hit by a pitch from frus­trated re­liever T.J. Shook and was sin­gled to third by Do­minic Fletcher. He scored on re­liever John Gil­reath’s wild pitch.

In the sixth in­ning, with Arkansas up only 1-0, Shaddy hit the 1-out, 2-run home run to left cre­at­ing, what the Game­cocks knew was an in­sur­mount­able 3-0 lead into the sev­enth against closer Matt Cronin. Cronin mas­ter­fully saved Satur­day’s sec­ond game for win­ning starter Isa­iah Camp­bell like he saved the first for Kacey Mur­phy.

“Ob­vi­ously the big hit­ter of the day was Car­son Shaddy,” Van Horn said.

And ob­vi­ously the Hogs needed their lead­ing hit­ter in av­er­age and home runs, .368 and 9, and sec­ond in RBI, 29, po­si­tioned to get more at bats than the 9-hole hit­ter gets.

So has Shaddy hit his way out of the 9-hole now?

“Well, yeah,” Van Horn said. “Some of the other guys were strug­gling a lit­tle bit and I just thought I needed to get him back up in there. Been think­ing about it for a cou­ple of weeks, but we’ve been win­ning. We won five or six in a row there and then we lost on Thurs­day night and he’s still swing­ing it bet­ter than most, I thought now is the time to do it.”

Though first-year South Carolina Coach Mark Kingston is en­tirely new to the SEC, he wasn’t sur­prised to see Shaddy star.

“What is he a fifth-year se­nior?’ Kingston mused. “Well, he's play­ing like a fifthyear se­nior. Guys that are in col­lege that long, should be pro­duc­tive play­ers and that's what he is.”

No doubt se­nior pride fac­tored into Shaddy both tak­ing it as a chal­lenge and pro­duc­ing so well from Day One bat­ting ninth in­clud­ing home­r­ing with four RBI in the sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over Buck­nell back on Feb. 16.

Af­ter that 14-2 blast­ing of Buck­nell, Shaddy ac­knowl­edged “jok­ing around this morn­ing” though likely with some con­cerns, about bat­ting ninth for the first time open­ing his last sea­son.

“You know that was the last thing I would have ex­pected, was to be in the 9-hole,” Shaddy said dur­ing the Feb. 16 postgame. “It (bat­ting ninth) prob­a­bly was the first since I was a sopho­more in high school. At the same time, like Eric (Cole, the 2-hole hit­ter) said, af­ter the first in­ning it doesn't mat­ter. It's just a num­ber. I'll do what­ever I can to help this team.”

Shaddy has so helped from the bot­tom of the lineup that maybe it’s not a cinch that he’ll per­ma­nently bat closer to the top.

“I think there is a pos­si­bil­ity that I could still be in there,” Shaddy said of bat­ting ninth af­ter Satur­day’s sweep. “Like we’ve all said be­fore I don’t think it’s pro­to­typ­i­cal 9-hole spot in this lineup. Coach re­ally likes me there. So we’ll see what hap­pens.”

Af­ter wast­ing their 13 hits plus the good pitch­ing of starter Blaine Knight and re­liev­ers Bar­rett Loeske, Evan Lee and Cody Scrog­gins by los­ing 3-2 Thurs­day, it seems all the Ra­zor­backs must have felt pres­sure to pro­duce last Satur­day.

“I don’t know about pres­sure,” Shaddy said. “I think it was more about anger. I think a lot of us felt we were right there about to take it from them and were re­ally an­gry we lost that game. It was more anger for us to do what we’re sup­posed to do.”

(Nate Allen cov­ers the Ra­zor­backs for the News Times.)

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