FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - Jack Kenley has waited his turn.
"He wasn’t ready as a freshman, and last year he didn’t get enough opportunity," acknowledges Dave Van Horn.
"That’s probably one of the most difficult things to do in baseball. I know they say hitting a baseball is, but coming off a bench cold, like you are, and trying to do it is incredibly difficult," says Kenley off his limited playing time his first two years.
Now, with a consistent spot in the lineup secured, Kenley is thriving, hitting .324 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs, as well as leading the team in slugging percentage (.571). His teammates have certainly noticed
" I don’t know how many homers I saw him hit before this year, and then he goes off for 12, it’s been unbelievable to watch. Also playing a great defensive second base, which is huge," says Dominic Fletcher.
Until this year, that defense had been Kenley’s calling card. Adding the bat was all a matter of opportunity, says Van Horn.
"He got his shot this year and he’s really taken advantage of it. We wouldn’t be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for him."
Kenley’s journey from little-used defensive replacement to star came to a head Tuesday, when the Detroit Tigers took him in the 8th round of the MLB Draft.
"There’s not much more you could ask for from a guy like Jack, and to finally see all his hard work pay off is awesome," says Jacob Kostyshock.
"It’s always been the goal in the back of my mind ever since I was little-bitty, so the fact that I now have that opportunity is something that has been really special and I’m truly thankful," adds Kenley.
Arkansas finally gave Jack Kenley his chance, and now he’s given them a chance to get back to the College World Series.