Best Of The Best

FAYETTEVILLE -- Based on his early season body of work, Arkansas sophomore Logan Forsythe might be the best third baseman in the Southeastern Conference.

That's the reputation he's already earned in his first season as a bona fide starter.

Forsythe, a hiccup-quick 6-foot, 195-pound Memphis native, pounces on ground balls faster than cat on a ball of twine.

Through 23 games, he's had 66 chances and made 6 errors, albeit some questionable, while vacuuming up more grounders than a Hoover on a dirty carpet.

Forsythe's "hot corner" doesn't get any hotter than meeting No. 1 Vanderbilt this weekend, beginning at 6:35 p.m. today in Baum Stadium in the SEC home opener for No. 9 Arkansas.

Looking back, the only thing betraying his ability was his inability to hit last year. His batting average -- he played in only 28 games -- was .189 in a reserve role.

Don't look now, but Forsythe leads the team with a .358 average, including 3 home runs and 16 RBIs.

"Yeah," Forsythe said. "I worked on my hitting a lot over the summer."

Still, it's his defense which sparkles most in the minds of his teammates.

Shortstops Matt Willard and Tim Smalling are quick to praise him.

"Basically, I think that's a tribute to his hard work," Willard said. "I know how hard Logan works. I think he's one of the best third basemen in the country. I know he's going to field whatever's hit to him."

Smalling countered:

"Defensively, it's awesome playing on the left side with him. I've never seen people get to the ball like him. He's got great hands, great feet.

"He's got a cannon for an arm."

A year ago, Forsythe was supposed to redshirt, grow and mature into an every day player, but that didn't happen.

"Last year, he wanted to play," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We tried to redshirt him. We had some injuries, forced him into playing a position he really hasn't played. He didn't complain, he wanted to play.

"He's one of the best third basemen I've ever coached. He's got it all. He's athletic, he can run, he can throw, he can hit. He can hit for power, he can steal bases."

Looking back, Forsythe thinks Van Horn made the right decision.

"I mean, either way, I think it was good for me," Forsythe said. "I got to go on all the trips and I just tried to help out the team the best I could. I think it was better for me to play.

"I got to know what the league was about, got to understand some of the players we're playing this year.

"I mean, you play every game, you don't want to go through the motions. You want to prove that's your position. You just have to be consistent.

"Playing third, you're pretty much staying focused on every pitch. You never know ... I mean, every guy might be able to drop a bunt down. We have charts on everyone.

"They get a shot, you've got to be ready to move."


No. 1 Vanderbilt at No. 9 Arkansas

WHEN: 6:35 p.m.

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Vanderbilt (22-1, 2-1 in Southeastern Conference); Arkansas (17-6, 2-1)

Hawgs Daily Top Stories