MAGNOLIA, Ark.—Senior Trevor Rucker is not an intimidating figure at the plate for Southern Arkansas University.
His numbers so far this season tell you otherwise.
Rucker (5-10, 185) is currently hitting .388, with eight doubles, three triples and a team-leading nine home runs and 18 stolen bases. His slugging percentage is .871 and on base average is .523
Naturally there are some statistics Rucker doesn't like to talk about. He's struck out a team-high 16 times in 109 plate appearances, but that's because he's an aggressive hitter.
SAU coach Justin Pettigrew smiles when he hears those statistics, but boasts the numbers that concern him and the Muleriders the most is their 14-1 record in the Great American Conference. SAU is in first place by two games over Arkansas Tech and three over Arkansas-Monticello and Henderson State.
"Trevor is having an outstanding season, and he's been a great leader," Pettigrew said. "We've got him in right field, but he's easily our best outfielder. We have a sun problem at our field and that's the reason we've got him in right."
Pettigrew noted his star outfielder has been noticed by some professional scouts despite his physical stature. He was 5-9 and weighed 160 pounds when he got to SAU four years ago.
Rucker played his first game at George Dobson Field last week against Texas A&M University-Texarkana. The Eagles threw five pitchers in their 10-2 setback, but held Rucker to a single. He was also hit by a pitch twice, marking the 15th time he's been beaned this season.
"Texarkana was just another opponent, we came out and played another good team," the Prescott, Ark., native said. "I just tried to play my game and stick to my approach."
Rucker credits confidence and coaching for his great start this spring.
"That has been a big difference for me this year; we've got a great coaching staff this year," he said. "They've helped me fix some little things that needed fixing. I'm also seeing the ball well."
An engineering major, Rucker hasn't ruled out an opportunity to play baseball professionally.
"My plans after college is all in God's hands, whether he wants me to pursue a career in baseball or start working," Rucker said. "Whatever he want is what I'm going to do."
A leader for sure, Rucker is by no means the Muleriders' only weapon.
Hometown freshman Blake Hall, a member of the Texarkana American Legion team that won last summer's World Series, has been a terror from the leadoff spot for SAU.
Hall is batting .369 with a team-high 9 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs. He's also second behind Rucker with 9 stolen bases.
"Hall has really stepped up for us as a freshman," Rucker said. "He's a big leadoff man and we really need him."
Hall homered last week against A&M-Texarkana.
"Our conference is really stacked this year," Rucker said. "We've got to stick to our approach and the process, and it'll take care of itself in the end.
"For the first time since I've been here our strength is a little bit of everything. I think we can do it all. I think we've got a good ball club this year."