Arkansas Senior Takes Final Ride

FAYETTEVILLE - Despite his lack of eye-popping statistics this season, Arkansas senior first baseman Danny Hamblin still has plenty of street credibility in the Southeastern Conference.

And his avenue of success stretches farther than from here to Texas, where he honed his skills as a high school baseball player in a bedroom community of Dallas.

Hamblin, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Rowlett, Texas, continues his farewell tour through the SEC when No. 7 Arkansas meets Auburn at 6 p.m. today in Auburn, Ala.

Opposing teams should be giving him ticker-tape parades and bouquets of flowers because he's finally leaving.

"It's gone by fast," Hamblin said. "It's been a great ride and I'd like to finish it out on a great note. It's been a tremendous time with the amount of great athletes and teammates I've had, the coaches, all the things that has happen has been awesome."

Since arriving at Arkansas, Hamblin has been named a freshman All-American, led his school to the College World Series for the first time in 15 years and played in three NCAA Tournaments.

Despite a slow start at the plate -- at one point he was hitting only .119 -- Hamblin has demonstrated his final season won't end on a boulevard of broken dreams.

In other words, he's back!

"You know, he'll have a game or two and you'll think, 'Oh, what's going on?' but he doesn't let it bother him," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's pretty tough. He knows conference is what it's all about. He's had a great conference. He's gotten a lot of big hits for us.

"Danny has been a big part of our success."

In 44 games this season, Hamblin is hitting .261 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. In 18 SEC games, he's hit .324 with 8 homers and 19 RBIs.

Hamblin, perhaps the best defensive first basemen in the league, could have taken a final curtain call last year after being drafted in the ninth round by the Oakland A's, but decided to return.

So, why come back?

"Why not?," he said. "You look around (Baum Stadium), it's just a great place to play. It's tough not to come here. We have probably the best stadium in the nation, great bunch of coaches.

"And we have the greatest fans."

Among Hamblin's biggest fans are his teammates and perhaps none bigger than fellow senior, center fielder Jake Dugger. Dugger and Hamblin are the two holdovers from that 2004 CWS team which finalized their freshman seasons in Omaha, Neb.

"What can I say about him?" Dugger said. "Dan is one of those players you don't have to worry about as far as his swing. Dan's going to have some success. He's been that way everywhere he's gone.

"It's that confidence he takes to the plate. He thinks he can hit every ball to the wall. Everybody in the dugout has confidence in him that he's going to do something to produce.

"He's got that ability."


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