Carson Shaddy bringing right approach

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: April 16, 2018 at 5:21 p.m. - Updated: April 16, 2018 at 5:31 p.m.
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy walks to first base during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, April 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy walks to first base during a game against South Carolina on Saturday, April 13, 2018, in Fayetteville.

— Carson Shaddy is only interested in helping Arkansas win games, not his stats.

He shies away from talking about his team-best .368 average and nine home runs, two of which came in the Razorbacks' doubleheader sweep of South Carolina last weekend. The second came not long after being hit on the left hand by a pitch.

"Fortunately, he made a couple big swings that helped us sweep that doubleheader," Dave Van Horn said Monday.

In Shaddy's mind, leaving Game 1 would jeopardize his availability for Game 2. So he toughed it out. Hitting coach Nate Thompson, facing his old team on Tuesday, was proud of the second baseman for not only staying in the game, but impacting it.

"He's really tough. Really tough," Thompson said. "That was a huge at-bat at the end of the game that kind of gave us a little more separation.

"He's been outstanding. Carson has had a really good, disciplined approach. He's been driving the baseball and putting good swings on it. He's doing his thing, playing his game and I've been pleased with his progress."

Thompson added that Arkansas has approached at-bats with a good mindset of late, but believes there is another level of competitiveness those in the lineup should continue to strive for.

"I think we're doing a nice job. You always want more. ... Hitting is hard. This is the most difficult skill in all of sports. If everybody could do it, they would."

Van Horn shook up the lineup a bit on Saturday. Casey Martin hit leadoff with Jax Biggers replacing Shaddy in the 9-hole. Luke Bonfield hit third and Shaddy bumped up to fifth. He knew he had to make a move.

He took notice of the tear Shaddy was on and wanted him in the middle of the order. It's nice to have guys who are interchangeable and don't panic when moved up or down the lineup, he added.

"You've got a 9-hole hitter that seemed to be wearing it out pretty much. I just really like his approach," said Van Horn, who plans to have Shaddy in the lineup against Missouri State. "He's not swinging at too many bad pitches.

"That's where he's made his biggest adjustment the last couple years. I just needed to put him in there behind some of our other bigger hitters."

Shaddy, simply, has worked on slowing things down at the plate. In turn, he's picking up pitch spin and enjoying more balance in his stance.

"I don't try to go line-to-line. I try to stay in the gaps," Shaddy added. "Just getting in good hitters' counts has really helped me. Really just trying to stay right-center and middle."

When asked about hitting fifth over the weekend, Shaddy, again, downplayed the spotlight. He'll hit wherever Van Horn slots him.

For Thompson, that's the beauty of Arkansas' offense.

"You don't feel like, honestly, you're at any part of the order throughout the game," Thompson said. "You're in a good position and have a quality batter at the plate and somebody who can really do the job, hit for power or average. You have your 1-2-3 lead off the game, but after that it's another guy up."

Shaddy admitted his hand is still sore. Monday will be a light work day for him, Van Horn said. He has no issues swinging the bat, but fielding is the bigger concern.

"It'll be fine," Shaddy said. "I've played through worse."

Each game is magnified from here on out. The redshirt senior wants to continue making his mark. Tomorrow night against Missouri State is a prime opportunity.

"They've got our respect and we've got theirs," he said. "It'll be a fun game."

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.