Revved up Racer

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Seth Hudson was happy to simply be playing college baseball last year -- but he certainly wasn't satisfied with a freshman season at Murray State that saw him hit just .204.

However, it has been a totally different situation so far this season for the Central High School graduate, who will lead the Thoroughbreds into this weekend's Ohio Valley Conference-opening series against his hometown school.

Southeast Missouri State (7-11) visits Murray State (10-10) for a three-game set, with a noon doubleheader Friday and a 1 p.m. single contest Saturday.

Entering a game tonight at Memphis, Hudson is leading the Thoroughbreds with a .362 batting average (21 of 58) as the squad's starting second baseman. He is also tied for first in runs scored with 15 and has driven in seven runs.

"It's exciting," Hudson said during a telephone interview from Murray, Ky. "I just want to keep the momentum going."

After being lightly recruited despite a standout career at Central, Hudson was more than happy when Murray State came in late and offered him some scholarship money. And it was icing on the cake that he started 31 games, although he struggled offensively as the Thoroughbreds went just 17-35.

"I was kind of disappointed in myself, because I knew I could do better," Hudson said. "But I was just really happy to play college baseball, and to get a starting spot as a freshman, I was thrilled."

Not wanting to duplicate his offensive numbers from 2004, Hudson set out to improve his game. He played for the Cape Girardeau Capahas, the region's highest-level amateur summer team, and also hit the weights hard, adding about 15 pounds to his 5-foot-9 frame that now carries 175 pounds.

"The strength and conditioning program here has really helped a lot, in pretty much all aspects of my game," he said. "I knew it was time to step up this year."

Hudson figures it was his lack of size that pretty much limited his college options after high school, although he's been able to prove himself at every level so far.

"Normally, my whole life my play has taken care of it," he said. "I guess my size kind of held the recruiters off, but I'm happy to be playing, and at the level I'm playing at, Division I."

Hudson said he was a bit disappointed that Southeast did not show much interest in recruiting him, but he has plenty of respect for the strong program coach Mark Hogan has built and doesn't hold any animosity.

"I grew up a SEMO fan. Everybody in Cape is. When I see SEMO, I think of my home town," Hudson said. "It wasn't disappointing because I'm playing college baseball, I'm still close to home and I really like it here.

"There's not any hatred or anything, but I still want to show them what I can do whenever I play them."

Even though the Thoroughbreds have lost five straight games, they appear vastly improved after a rough time last year during coach Rob McDonald's first season.

"We had a horrible year last year. We were young and a lot of people struggled, like myself," Hudson said. "It's like night and day. Coach got rid of a lot of people. He brought in some good recruits, and everybody meshes really well together.

"We've struggled some lately, but the competition has been really tough. We're so much better than we were last year."

Good enough, Hudson believes, to contend for the OVC title, even though the Thoroughbreds were picked tied for seventh in the league's preseason poll.

"I definitely feel like we can compete for the championship," he said. "We're ready to get going this weekend, and playing against SEMO will be a lot of fun."

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