Now Batting Leadoff

Injury-plagued Arkansas senior Sean Jones got six hits while returning to action as the Razorbacks' lead-off man last weekend and will back at the top of the order Friday night when his team hosts Auburn at 6:35 at Baum Stadium in the first game of a three-game weekend series.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Because of injuries, Sean Jones has become a man of constant sorrow at times during his college baseball career.

Still, he remains a profile in courage.

An injured left wrist crippled his freshman season at Sam Houston State while he was in Huntsville, Texas, for a short spell before transferring to Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, in 2006.

He did rather well in 2007, earning a starting spot in the Arkansas outfield and posting a .282 batting average while hitting 2 home runs with 8 doubles and 17 RBI.

Then, in an intrasquad game this spring, the 6-foot, 194-pound senior outfielder from Houston, broke his left hand.

Mike Bolsinger's fastball hit him square and brought more pain.

Ouch!

"He didn't mean to do it," Jones said. "It's not his fault. It's part of the game."

Jones returned to the starting lineup last weekend as the leadoff hitter at Vanderbilt, much to the delight of Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn, who gladly welcomed him back.

"Oh, it was huge," Van Horn said. "To see him get it going so quickly against Vandy ... his first at-bat, he flared one in down the left-field line, got a double. Lined out to center, singled up the middle, stole a base or two, laid down a couple of nice bunts. Just the things you wanted from the top of the order guy.

"It's definitely a better lineup with Sean in it."

And look for Jones to be in the lineup again when Arkansas opens its Southeastern Conference series against Auburn at 6:35 p.m. today in Baum Stadium.

Since he's been back, Jones is hitting .429 (6 of 14), including that double in Nashville, Tenn., last week.

"It was pretty exciting for me," Jones said. "I was hitting BP (batting practice) last Thursday then we went to Vandy and practiced and stuff and it felt good.

"I had minimal pain in my wrist and hand. Van Horn liked what he saw and he asked me if I was ready to go. I felt like I was as ready as I'll ever be. He said, 'All right, I'm going to put you in the lineup' and he did. I was pretty excited to get back on that field.

"I just went out there and played hard."

Just like he had as a freshman at Sam Houston State, until the wrist injury sidelined him.

"I was out close to three weeks with that stuff," Jones said. "When I came back, I ended up getting a hernia not long after that. That pretty much killed me, killed pretty much my freshman year."

Jones jokingly said he never thought about amputating his troubled left arm which has caused him so much constant sorrow.

"It's there for a reason, helps me hit," Jones said. "So, I still need it."

TODAY'S TICKET

Auburn at Arkansas

WHEN: 6:35 p.m.

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Auburn 18-12, 4-5; Arkansas 16-11, 2-6

SERIES: Auburn leads 31-25. LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 8-1 on April 29, 2007 in Auburn, Ala.

TV: none

ON THE AIR: KFAY AM 1030; KURM AM 790, FM 100.3; KKEG FM 92.1; KHGG AM 1580, FM 103.1; KXIO FM 106.9

LAST TIME OUT: Arkansas defeated Missouri State 7-6 in 10 innings on Tuesday night in Springfield, Mo.


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