Freshman Allen produces for veteran RaidersJune 11, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — Anybody who's attended a Southridge baseball game this season has probably noticed the senior-heavy group that the Raiders patrol. They're scattered across the infield, and dominate the team's lineup. Opposing teams might have to pick their poison when pitching to the four NCAA Division I signees that sit atop the order.
There's something else people might've noticed. Batting in the fifth spot this season isn't another one of the eight seniors who have helped make this program a juggernaut, it's freshman second baseman Hudson Allen, who has held his own in a lineup dominated by elder statesmen.
"Obviously, being a freshman, there was still some nerves there, but playing with them, just that they could guide me, it just felt like another season," Allen said.
"I can't imagine it's real easy for a freshman to come in batting in the middle of the lineup with the kind of senior class that we have," Raiders coach Gene Mattingly said. "We've got eight tremendous seniors, and we've got some really good juniors and some really good sophomores. And to be a freshman, to come in and kind of be plugged into the middle of the lineup - probably a lot of pressure."
Allen shared with the Herald some of the advice his senior teammates have given him. They told him to be confident in himself, and don't think he can't do something just because he's a freshman.
One of those seniors, Quinn Barnett, told Allen things aren't always going to go his way, but he has to stick with it and keep fighting.
"You're going to have days where you're going to go 0-for-4, 0-for-5," Barnett said. "And you just got to come back stronger, and kind of get your mind off of the bad things, and just try to refocus."
Mattingly hailed Allen's baseball IQ for his age, in addition to how well he swings the bat and that he plays good defense. Mattingly said Allen has a good head for the game and added that he understands situational baseball.
"All the little things that may not show up in a box score, he's got a pretty good handle on," he said.
Mattingly has noticed the ways Allen has evolved throughout the season. He noted that Allen has gotten more comfortable in his role. Mattingly thinks his freshman is playing with more confidence, that he's more sure of himself that he belongs and added that he's playing at a very high level.
He credited his senior players for embracing Allen and helping him through the transition.
"I know at the very beginning, he was really hard on himself," Barnett said. "Now, whether he strikes out or gets a hit, he comes back smiling, and that's just something that's stuck with me from Hudson. He always has this smile on his face, so that's good."
"As a person, I feel like I've gotten more outgoing with my personality - just being with the upperclassmen," Allen said. "And as a player, I feel like everything's gotten better through the season."
His swing has improved - as it's quick and smooth, and he's able to wait on the ball at the plate more. His mindset is not to do too much, put the ball in play and that's how good things happen.
Yet, it's not Allen's bat, his fielding or his pitching that Mattingly likes the most about him, but his coachability.
"He wants to do what's expected of him," he said. "He works hard at all aspects, and he's willing to learn - he's coachable. He's not a kid that thinks he knows it all. He's willing to listen, he's willing to digest the information you give, and he gives you great effort every day."
The Raiders will look to count on that effort in today's Class 3A Semi-State 4 game against Brebeuf Jesuit at Jasper’s Ruxer Field. He remembers watching his older brother, Weston, help the Raiders make it to the Class 2A state championship game in 2018 and 2019, and Hudson wanted to do the same thing.
Now, he has his chance to keep the line moving with some of Weston's former teammates.
"When I was in the stands watching him, I always thought it was really cool how they won so many games consistently, back-to-back to make it to the state," Hudson said. "So, I'm hoping we can do the same thing."
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