From pain to gain: Hogs’ Shaddy turns things around

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, June 8, 2018
Hunter Wilson (6) of Arkansas gives Carson Shaddy (20) the home run hog hat after Shaddy hit a home run in the 6th inning against Oral Roberts Friday, June 1, 2018, during game one of the NCAA regional at Baum Stadium. Arkansas won 10-2.
Photo by Ben Goff
Hunter Wilson (6) of Arkansas gives Carson Shaddy (20) the home run hog hat after Shaddy hit a home run in the 6th inning against Oral Roberts Friday, June 1, 2018, during game one of the NCAA regional at Baum Stadium. Arkansas won 10-2.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Carson Shaddy had to leave his ego at the clubhouse door this season and it has paid off handsomely for the homegrown product at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

After going undrafted as a junior second baseman last June, Shaddy wasn't happy. The 5-11, 185-pounder wanted to show every major league club that they had made a mistake.

The infielder has battled through emotional pain -- along with a big dose of the physical kind -- to take a .331 batting average into this weekend's NCAA super regional against South Carolina at Baum Stadium.

He's also a proud, new 10th-round draft pick, having been taken with No. 311 by the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

"I think I left my ego at home after last year," Shaddy said. "I sought out a lot of advice from other guys like Benny [Andrew Benintendi]. ... I think I'm just an older guy and I know what's going on a little bit."

It was a strong bounce back season for Shaddy.

"It was definitely worth the wait," Shaddy said. "All the heartache I went through last year, and a little the year before, it's turned out great. When I saw my name, I lost control. I couldn't even see straight I was so happy.

"Just seeing my name was all worth it, and being here. God's blessed me to be a part of this team and the position we're in right now, it's all worth it."

Shaddy made himself attractive to major league clubs by hitting a team-high .395 in SEC play, second only to Ole Miss' Ryan Olenek's .404.

He shot out of the gates with home runs in the first two games of the season and had 9 RBI after the opening weekend. He went 7 for 13 with five extra-base hits and four RBI in a series sweep of Kentucky to open league play, raising his average to .333, and he's been between .327 and .368 the rest of the way.

"He had a lot better year than he had last year," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's been very consistent all year. Last year he got off to a really good start and then it kind of faded and went away.

"This year he's just stayed the same and played great every weekend and during the week and continued to hit. He's been a special player for us."

Shaddy's odyssey at Arkansas has been the definition of perseverance. After redshirting as a true freshman, he played catcher and outfielder and batted .337, second on the team, in 44 games on the 2015 team that made it to the College World Series.

He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right (throwing) arm after that season, then made 34 starts at third base and 19 in center field and hit a team-high .332 on the 2016 team that did not qualify for the postseason. His average dropped to .279, with 8 home runs and 40 RBI as a junior and did not get the hopeful draft call.

In addition to the Tommy John surgery, Shaddy had to deal with a minor knee problem and other ailments during his career. He took a pitch off his left hand against South Carolina on a cold, rainy weekend with a 3-for-7 showing that included 2 home runs and 3 RBI.

The next weekend at Mississippi State he was hit on his right hand by a pitch, which caused him to miss seven games. Shaddy returned from that setback by notching five hits and six RBI in his first three games back. He has 14 of his 43 RBI since the second hand injury, despite having an 0 for 12 run at the SEC Tournament when the hand was aching again.

"It's still painful," Shaddy said. "I found something else that's kind of helped me. The little rings that go around the thumb ... help my hand thing a lot."

Shaddy has played much better second base this year, cutting his errors in half, from 16 to 8.

Van Horn, a former Razorbacks second baseman himself, thinks focusing on one position was beneficial for Shaddy.

"I think he learned how to play second base last year," Van Horn said. "It was just a learning process for him throughout the year, learning how to just instinctively cover the bag, be at the right spot on relays, and turning the double play was probably the main thing, making good flips and pivots to the shortstop.

"Just being a leader in the middle of the field. This year it's come easy to him and he plays it like he's been playing there forever. It's a position that some people think it's a short throw, but there's a lot going on over there and a lot of thinking. You have to be a good athlete to play there and he's handled it really well."

Shaddy is elated to be back on the doorstep of another trip to the College World Series.

"It's a blessing I wasn't taken last year and that I've had a chance to come back and be a part of this team," Shaddy said. "I'm so happy that everything happened the way it did.

"Getting an opportunity to [play in super regional] is huge. But we can't really think about that this first game. We really need to focus on just winning the first game and going out there and playing Hog baseball and hopefully good things will happen for us."

Sports on 06/08/2018

Carson Shaddy glance

Position Second base

Class Senior

Height/Weight 5-11, 185

Hometown Fayetteville

Family Parents Chris Shaddy and Holland Weaver; brother Taylor, sisters Liza and Cate

Noteworthy Ranks third on the team in hitting (.331), fourth in home runs (11) and RBI (43), second in on-base percentage (.430) and first in triples (2). … Has made 47 starts this season, all at second base. … Led team in hitting with a .332 average as a sophomore and ranked second as a freshman (.337). … Named 2013 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Fayetteville High after hitting .426 with 3 home runs and 18 RBI. … Selected as 7A All-State as a junior and a senior.


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