FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - There isn't much that remains from the 2012 Arkansas team that reached the College World Series but Joe Serrano does.
Then, Serrano was a true freshman that got hot at the right time of the year. Now the Tucson, Ariz. native is an everyday fixture in left field for the Razorbacks, but he is just happy to contribute no matter his role.
"My freshman year I was a (designated hitter), kind of a spot outfielder and kind of worked my way into a starting position there at the end of the year," Serrano said. "This year I’ve been an everyday kind of guy and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win."
Even though Serrano came through in big spots during the 2012 run, he wasn't a household name for Hog fans. His numbers have gone up with each passing season though, and he has a chance to end his Arkansas career hitting close to the .300 mark.
"He’s just grown every year," Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal said. "He’s gotten better which is crazy to think about. He came in that freshman year and tore it up in the postseason and did big things for Arkansas."
"Joe’s career has just been incredible," Arkansas outfielder Tyler Spoon said. "He’s probably one of the most consistent players to play here. He’s hit around .300 every year. He’s got clutch hit after clutch hit."
Spoon was a member of the same recruiting class as Serrano but the Hogs right fielder redshirted in 2012.
Midway through the season this spring, coach Dave Van Horn was looking to shake up the Arkansas offense so he plugged Serrano into the leadoff spot. Serrano surged during the SEC tournament and then began the NCAA Tournament by going 9-of-16 including a monster game in the Super Regional opener against Missouri State.
No matter where he's at in the lineup, Serrano is the rock his team leans on.
"I think he’s done a great job of maturing over the years and getting better and now that he’s that older guy, he’s helping everybody else do the same," Bernal said. "He’s trying to teach everybody the ropes and kind of get everybody prepared for different situations that we’re going to be faced with."
Other than Van Horn and pitching coach Dave Jorn, Serrano is the only member of the Razorbacks team that knows what to expect when they take the field on Saturday against Virginia. And he's even more excited this time around than he was the first time.
"It’s what you strive for playing collegiate baseball," Serrano said. "It’s a dream come true going to Omaha and to be able to go twice, especially with two great groups of guys. I just couldn’t be more excited."