Sweet Swinging Willie Core

Before Ben Soignier began piling up the hits in a record-smashing career at ULM, there was sweet-swinging Willie Core. Soignier made a run at Core's school mark for hits before the two four-year stars ended up deadlocked at 296. Catch up with Willie in this exclusive WarhawkNation interview.

Before Ben Soignier began piling up the hits in a record-smashing career at ULM, there was sweet-swinging Willie Core.

Soignier made a run at Core's school mark for hits before the two four-year stars ended up deadlocked at 296 each. Back home in Folsom, eight years removed from his last collegiate game, Core kept tabs on the chase.

"I've been keeping up with Ben and think he's been a pretty good one," Core told WarhawkNation in an exclusive interview. "I was pretty certain he would break the hits record, and many others. That's just how things shape up."

Last year Soignier eclipsed Core's single-season record for hits with 93. Core, who broke Jerald Clark's Southland Conference career record, saw that mark tumble this year too as Texas-San Antonio's Michael Rockett surpassed him.

So how does Core feel to have company at the top of the record books?

"I'm really kind of honored," Core said. "I guess I could hit a little bit. But Ben has got a lot more tools and I think his baseball career will continue. I'm honored to be tied with him.

"If he would have broken it, that would have been wonderful. As ULM continues to be more successful and set the bar higher, somebody will come along and break those records."

Core said he still follows the program and tries to touch base with ULM coach Jeff Schexnaider a couple of times a year. Because Core's brother played at Louisiana- Lafayette, their father remained an avid Sun Belt Conference baseball fan and updates the family with the latest news from the league.

"I follow them on a weekly basis on the Internet and read articles from the weekends," Core said. "I try to follow as diligently as we can."

Core doesn't know Soignier personally, but he likes what he's heard about him. Both players were able to make splashy debuts as freshmen on their way to building solid career numbers.

"Me and Ben are unique, because not a lot of guys get as much time as freshmen as we did," said Core, whose walk-up music made the opening lines of the Hank Williams, Jr. song "Dinosaur" a local ballpark staple in those days. "You get 50 or 60 hits to start your first year, you don't see that as much."

Like Soignier, Core ended his career with a bang.

In 2001, the third baseman hit .408 with 12 home runs, 15 doubles and 56 RBIs. Hobbled by a bad knee much of his senior season, the Southland Conference's Player of the Year still managed to hit in 31 straight games while setting the bar high for future stars.

After graduating, Core went to work for the LSU AgCenter for five years. Cargill Animal Nutrition now employs him.

"It's been a neat thing," Core said. "It's a brand new field for me. I grew up around livestock, sheep and cows."

Core also married a year ago. "No kids yet," he said. "But it will happen."

Willie Core

Ben Soignier by the numbers (Courtesy Adam Prendergast, ULM Sports Information)

• First Team All-Sun Belt Conference Shortstop

• First ULM player to earn first team all-conference honors in three different seasons since 1971

• Set the ULM career records in hits (296), total bases (478), doubles (63) and at-bats (837)

• In the ULM career record book, ranks fifth in batting average (.354), second in runs scored (222), third in home runs (37), third in RBIs (180), third in walks (128), fourth in stolen bases (48), second in games played (216) and 10th in saves (6)

• 2009 Stats: Batting Average - .376*, Runs Scored - 58, Hits - 85, Doubles -- 22*, Triples - 1, Home Runs - 11, RBIs - 71*, BB - 46*, HBP 14*, On-Base Percentage - .500*, Slugging Percentage - .628*, Stolen Bases - 8, ERA 2.70*, Saves - 2*

• Set the ULM single-season RBI record in 2009 and the hits and runs scored record in 2008. Soignier's 85 hits in 2009 rank fourth best in a single-season, 22 doubles ranks fifth best, 142 total bases ranks fourth best and 46 walks ranks third best.

• Named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team after batting .400 with three doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .679 on-base percentage (eight walks, five hit by pitches). On the mound, made three appearances, 1-0 record, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, .133 OBA

• Finished season with 25 multi-hit games and 21 multi-RBI games

• Preseason Honors

- Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year

- One of the Top 10 Seniors in the Nation by Rivals.com

- Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Watch List

- Preseason All-American by Louisville Slugger, NCBWA, RecruitingCloser.com

• Previous Honors

- 2008 Louisville Slugger All-America Team - 2006 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America Team - 2008 Ping!Baseball All-America Team - 2008 All-Region, All-Sun Belt, All-Louisiana - 2008 NCAA Leader in Runs Scored Per Game - 17th Round Selection in MLB Draft by Florida Marlins - 2006 All-Southland Conference, Southland Freshman of the Year

Warhawk Nation Top Stories