Hog calls:

Return of Bonfield, Shaddy plus for UA Arkansas

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, June 17, 2017
Arkansas left fielder Luke Bonfield (17) is congratulated at the plate by third baseman Carson Shaddy Friday, March 17, 2017, after hitting a 2-run home run scoring Chad Spanberger during the first inning against Mississippi State at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas left fielder Luke Bonfield (17) is congratulated at the plate by third baseman Carson Shaddy Friday, March 17, 2017, after hitting a 2-run home run scoring Chad Spanberger during the first inning against Mississippi State at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas baseball Coach Dave Van Horn didn't bother including 2017 juniors Luke Bonfield and Carson Shaddy into the equation two Fridays ago when he talked about coaching a more "athletic" Razorbacks team in 2018.

He can include them now.

Van Horn anticipated that Bonfield (left field/DH) and Shaddy (second base) would be selected during the Major League draft, which took place earlier this week.

They weren't. So both are expected to return as baseball seniors to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Their return doesn't necessarily bode for a more athletic team, at least in Bonfield's case, but it bodes for a better one than without them.

Bonfield and Shaddy are the type of senior leaders that Division I college baseball coaches covet but seldom have. They are proven hitters and teammates who have experienced the ups and downs of starring and slumping as well as playing in the College World Series, on a losing team, and then a resurgent one.

Most collegians with their ability are drafted and signed after their junior year, which is what Van Horn anticipated would happen with Bonfield and Shaddy.

Bonfield was a well-regarded hitting prospect coming out of Skillman, N.J., so much so that the New York Mets drafted him in the 21st round in 2014, even though Bonfield let it be known he was college bound.

Bonfield was not an instant hit with the 2015 College World Series Hogs. He hit .177 in 28 games but earned Van Horn's respect. "I am really proud of Luke," Van Horn said at the time. "Even though he is supposed to be this guy up here, he doesn't feel entitled. He was 'I have to earn my way in.' "

Bonfield earned it in 2016, hitting .304 with 8 home runs, 11 doubles, and 39 RBI in 49 games.

He did just as well this past season, batting .294 with 8 home runs, 9 doubles and 49 RBI while filling the No. 3 spot in the order.

Picturesque afield he isn't, but Bonfield catches what he gets to, committing one error in 2017.

Shaddy, who will be a fifth-year man in 2018 having redshirted in 2014 upon arrival from Fayetteville High, is athletic and versatile. He has caught, played the outfield and second and third base.

Some of Shaddy' defensive versatility stems from trying to fit a square peg into a round hole simply because Shaddy's bat fits any hole in the order. Shaddy definitely had the look of a square peg in a round hole at second base starting the 2017 season.

But Van Horn stuck with him and Shaddy worked overtime. Their patience was rewarded, especially once Shaddy donned eyeglasses. The once struggling second baseman became a consistent one, sometimes even spectacular.

The emphasis on defense may have detracted from his batting average, which ended up at .279 with 8 home runs, 10 doubles, 2 triples and 40 RBI.

He hit .337 as a three-position semiregular in 2015 and was at .332` as a regular third baseman/center fielder in 2016.

Expect these two seniors to be welcomed home, and for them to lead by example and deeds.

Sports on 06/17/2017

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