Arkansas Senior Polishing Off Career

FAYETTEVILLE — Subject to change, Jake Dugger may be the best outfielder Arkansas baseball fans have seen in many, many years.

He gets to a potential base hit faster than a New York City pickpocket on a crowded street and has the ability to throw out more people than a nightclub bouncer when given the opportunity.

Dugger, a 5-foot-11, 199-pound senior from Omaha, Neb., burst onto the scene as a freshman All-American and led Arkansas to its first College World Series appearance in 15 years in 2004.

Since then, he's become a human highlight reel — last year he was featured on ESPN's Top Plays during a series against Ole Miss — with his can't-believe-he-did-that catches in the outfield.

Dugger has started 16 games this season and is hitting .339 with 3 home runs, 5 doubles, 9 RBIs and 12 walks.

All those statistics matter little to Dugger, who is the ultimate team player, with only one goal in mind.

"The only reason I came back for my senior year is to get back to Omaha and the College World Series," he said. "That's why I'm here this year.

"I wanted to go back home with this team."

Basically, the real "Road to Omaha" starts when No. 9 Arkansas meets No. 24 Kentucky on the road at 5:30 p.m. today in the Southeastern Conference opener.

"My time here, it's gone by terribly fast," Dugger said. "I still, sometimes, don't feel like a senior. I feel like the same guy I was as a sophomore or junior.

"It's been a great 3 1/2 years and we've going to try and end it with a bang."

Razorbacks first baseman Danny Hamblin was in the same recruiting class as Dugger and fully appreciates his fellow senior and what he's done in his career.

"I mean Jake, to describe Jake you just say, ‘Gamer'," Hamblin said. "When he steps between the white lines, he's ready to play ball and he wants to win. Great team guy.

"He's been here almost four years. We've played together, batted next to each other in the lineup. He's a great teammate, better friend.

"Really good guy in the clubhouse."

Arkansas sophomore outfielder Wayne Hrozek sees Dugger as a mentor.

"He's a great outfielder," Hzorek said. "He pretty much taught me everything I know. Last year I came in here, I wasn't that good in the outfield and didn't play much.

"He took me under his wing and made me a better outfielder."









ON DECK

No. 9 Arkansas at No. 24 Kentucky

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. today

WHERE: Cliff Hagan Stadium, Lexington, Ky.

RECORDS: Arkansas (14-5, 0-0 in Southeastern Conference), Kentucky (19-0, 0-0)

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